The first M:ST festival in 2001 was organized with the idea of celebrating performative art in Calgary by presenting works from local artists alongside established and emerging artists from across Canada and around the world. The organization was originally conceived to produce this biannual festival in response to the rapidly expanding local performative art community’s growing need for support. Since then M:ST has brought the works of over 250 artists to the Southern Alberta area, including Calgary, Lethbridge, and Banff.
The term “performative” describes practices that originate from a visual or media arts discourse and involve the live presence of the artist. Presenting a wide range of media, M:ST’s programming is responsive to issues in contemporary art, encouraging discourse crucial for the growth and progression of performative practices and promoting dialogue through panel discussions, artist talks, and interactive workshops.
Since its infancy M:ST has been uniquely collaborative, working closely with arts organizations and businesses in the region to create an interactive and synergistic environment for artists, community partners, and participants. This structure has allowed the festival to represent each organization’s mandate and audience, while providing opportunities for cross-disciplinary and inter-organizational exchange. The result is an unprecedented participatory environment where artists and audience can experience contemporary performative work outside of traditional festival models or gallery settings.
M:ST acknowledges that we stand on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot and the people of the Treaty 7 region, which includes the Siksika, the Piikuni, the Kainai, the Tsuu T’ina and the Stoney Nakoda First Nations. The City of Calgary is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III. Amidst the ongoing social, cultural and environmental effects of colonialism, we are committed to dialogue and collaboration with Indigenous artists and communities as part of our mandate to foster performative art practices in Southern Alberta.
The mission of M:ST is to ensure that performative art practices are recognized and sustained in the Southern Alberta region. M:ST is committed to presenting performative works from a variety of disciplines that reflect current issues and practices in contemporary art. M:ST’s role in presenting professional, high quality cultural experiences continues to grow, increasing opportunities for education and critical discourse surrounding contemporary performative practices.
We are dedicated to fostering the evolution of performative art practices based in Southern Alberta through collaboration and dialogue with diverse local, national, and international creative communities.
Our mandate is supported by five core values:
Artistic integrity: We value and support the autonomy of the artist.
Critical engagement: We value artistic measures that challenge, disrupt, and destabilize.
Border-crossing: We value practices that work between disciplines and interrogate the (performative) spaces between body, media, and object.
Collaboration: We value situations and practices that connect artists, organizations, and ideas towards fostering diverse and accessible spaces for performance artists and allies.
Social responsibility: We value and are accountable to our territory, ethical ecological responsibilities and social context.
We effectively enact these values through:
Education: We broaden our community’s knowledge of contemporary art and critical issues though workshops, panel discussions, and artist talks.
Resiliency: Contributing to the resiliency of our field with publications and archival documents.
Advocacy: We fight for the rights of performance artists, and supporting work from artists of diverse backgrounds, cultural communities, languages, and experience levels.
Professional Development: We provide professional development opportunities for emerging artists, students, and recent graduates through internships, employment opportunities, volunteer opportunities, mixers, and other resources.
Equitable compensation: We pay above and beyond CARFAC standards for artist fees, and work to ensure a safe and supportive professional context for artists.
Accessibility: All of our programming is free and open to any interested member of the public, and we are dedicated to providing bilingual literature where possible.
Our mainline event is a biannual performative art festival, which takes place over several weeks across Calgary and the Southern Alberta region. The M:ST Performative Art Biennial is packed with thought-provoking performances, informative artist talks, panels, interactive workshops, and exhibitions, presenting a multitude of both international and Canadian artists and collaborative groups. In the Fall of 2018 we celebrate almost two decades of M:ST festivals with M:ST 9.
As the only festival of its kind in Southern Alberta, M:ST continues an important tradition of supporting performative art in the region. With each Biennial, M:ST continues to maintain the unique collaborative structure of previous festivals, and benefits from the participation of public art galleries and academic arts institutions as venues and co-presenters of a critically acclaimed performative art festival. M:ST Festivals are organized and produced with the dedicated support of our partner organizations. Our current partner organizations include:
Alberta College of Art + Design, Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers, Contemporary Calgary, CJSW 90.9, EMMEDIA Gallery & Production Society, Luma Quarterly, The New Gallery, Trap\door Artist Run Centre, TRUCK Contemporary Art in Calgary, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Stride Gallery, and Untitled Arts Society.
In between each festival year, M:ST is actively communicating with partner organizations and planning events throughout the year. Off-season happenings include one-off performances, exhibitions, and fundraisers, as well as sponsorships and partnerships. M:ST is constantly looking for ways to challenge the precedence of arts programming strategies, seeking new ways to present performative artists and their work and access broader audience.
In 2017, our interim programming included WILD: Fabricating a Frontier – a 7 day mini-festival in partnership with Contemporary Calgary and the Calgary Underground Film Festival, which featured the work of Adrian Stimson, Postcommodity, Deanna Bowen, and more – among other successful events.
Expanding on an organizational interest in preserving histories and legacies, educating, and supporting artists’ work through printed matter, M:ST is dedicated to the production and dissemination of artist publications, catalogues, and other texts. As one of our strategies for content accessibility, many of our publications and other texts are presented in both English and French for our bilingual and French-speaking audiences.
Recent publications include The 7th Sense | Le 7e Sens, published in 2017 by M:ST and Sagamie edition d’art, and Adrian Stimson: The Life and Times of Buffalo Boy, published in 2009 by M:ST and TRUCK Contemporary Art in Calgary, as well as our upcoming publication Rita McKeough: Works, produced by M:ST in partnership with TRUCK Contemporary Art in Calgary and EMMEDIA Gallery & Production Society, releasing in Fall 2018.
An easy way to stay involved and up-to-date with M:ST happenings during our festival season as well as during the interim year is to join our mailing list! To sign-up, simply go to our MailChimp Signup page.
A membership to the M:ST Performative Art Festival Society entitles the individual to all of our mail outs, updates, job postings, the ability to vote at our annual AGM, and discounts on select publications and other merchandise. Memberships start at $10. Email us at [email protected] to get started!
M:ST has been, but it wouldn’t be a success without our amazing volunteers! M:ST is constantly seeking those interested in lending a helping hand at M:ST performances, exhibitions, and fundraisers. Volunteer positions include bartending, event set-up and strike, and special projects assistance, as well as board membership. To inquire about current volunteer opportunities, applying to become a board member, or to be placed on our volunteer queue, email us at [email protected] with the subject line ‘M:ST Volunteering’.
As a not-for-profit, charitable organization, M:ST depends government grants and Alberta Liquor & Gaming Commission funds. We are always looking for opportunities to pass these funds on to our artists through diverse opportunities and fair, above-standard pay, as well as to the community through free and accessible events.
If you support our mission and would like to donate, your contribution will support facilitation of our M:ST Biennial (including M:ST 10 in 2020), as well as our off-year programming such as performances, exhibitions, residencies, and special projects.
If you would like to support M:ST’s mission to foster creativity and bring fresh and innovative performative art programming to Southern Alberta, please visit M:ST Festival on Canada Helps
If you are interested in donating but would like to learn more about how your contribution will benefit M:ST programming and operations, or if you are interested in contributing in other ways, please email us:
Desiree Nault (Artistic Director), [email protected]