This summer, I completed an internship with Arts in the Margins (AIM), a non-profit dedicated to building healthy, self-sustaining communities via the creative arts. Among many of its other goals, AIM works to creatively and financially support artists and organizations that are a part of historically marginalized communities.
As a U4 Honours English literature student with a minor in History, I was drawn to the internship because I am interested in learning how art can support community-building and activism. I wanted to see how acts of learning, creating, and enjoying art can be made more financially accessible, especially with inflation and the Quebec’s government recent tabling of Bill 31. I learned about the different types of provincial and federal grants available to organizations like AIM, hurdles of the grant system, and how to maneuver around such barriers. A part of my internship was conducting research that will help AIM apply for a federal grant. For this project, I sorted and analyzed statistics on anglophone minority communities in Montreal.
As an Arts student, a challenge I faced was conducting statistical research. This was different from the research work I’ve done in my English and History classes; at first, I stuck to my comfort zone and read a lot of sociological and historical papers without facing the numbers. However, I knew that statistics would ultimately help me clarify my objectives, find more recent data, and thus create more accurate analyses. The first step I took to tackle the discomfort was watching a StatsCan video tutorial—from there, the large swaths of data felt less daunting. With new spreadsheet skills in hand, I started getting somewhere.
During my first month with AIM, I did front-of-house duties and collected the emails of interested audience members for AIM’s newsletters during the many concerts that they co-presented. It was a privilege to see international and local musicians perform, including Safia Nolin, Marisa Anderson, Willy Mitchel, Bridget St. John, and the Sun Ra Arkestra —these nights were definitely a highlight of my internship. I also got to see how presenters like AIM support touring artists before and after their performances. While sitting in on a board of directors meeting, I heard AIM’s team discuss the environmental impact of touring musicians and how grants can be used to fulfill expenses of care, such as childcare, to make artists’ lives easier when performing.
AIM is a very young organization—it was exciting to help start its first social media accounts with Lisa, the other intern working at AIM this summer. This also meant that Peter and Eric gave Lisa and I a lot of flexibility in our responsibilities—I felt comfortable taking on projects that I felt drawn to. For instance, some other tasks that I decided to perform included writing a land acknowledgement for AIM and creating a database of community organizations that AIM could potentially partner with and/or support in the future.
I am not receiving academic credit for this internship, but I will definitely carry the perspectives I learned while working at AIM with me during my last semester at McGill and in my future career endeavors, specifically its ethos of care towards the artists and communities it works with. I expanded my knowledge of experimental music as well as key organizations and venues central to Montreal’s music scene. Importantly, I’ve met so many wonderful people in the city who are dedicated to supporting artistic invention and spaces for cultural expression. You will definitely see me at AIM’s future events!
I am incredibly grateful to David Tarr and Gisele Chevrefils for their financial support. Without it, I would not have been able to live and work in Montreal this summer.