SPOTLIGHT PRESENTS

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BRENT MASON

Songwriting in the Old North End

We Are The ONE

Recap the story and the project for us, what did you do?

I worked with members of the community, facilitated by Sean Simpson at the Nick Nicolle Centre, and wrote and recorded a song based on a gathering we had in July. Sean took a series of photographs of old north enders and printed them out large scale. They have since been installed on various buildings in the old north end. 

Did you discover that your existing skills contributed to this process and to collaborating? How so?

My skills as a songwriter and my experience working in high schools with students and helping them create definitely served me well during this process! Taking a wide range of narratives and boiling them down into a cohesive piece of work is a product of listening to what is truly being said - getting to the heart of the matter, as it were. It's something I've come to value in what I do.

What new skills or capacity did you develop through this process that will help you with similar collaborations in the future?

I've learned that the more you involve other members of the community, the more ownership will be taken up by that community. Working with Sean at Nick Nicolle truly expanded the foul lines of what was possible with this project.

Has this process contributed to your artistic or professional development? In what ways?

 

I think Spotlight has made people aware of this element of what I do - working with others to create- who may not have been aware of it before. I also feel I am recognized and respected in the community for doing something of value and integrity.

Tell us about the people you collaborated with.

I was surprised at the passion and love for their community the participants displayed- it made it all that more important to me to do something that they would approve of and appreciate.

Were there unexpected results? In the artwork, in the relationships, etc?

It was amazing that Sean at Nick Nicolle had a printer for murals, that Kit Hickey and Housing Alternatives would be so enthusiastic in wanting them up on their buildings. The response to the song, which was played after a CBC interview with Sean and I was amazing as well. Lots of people with anecdotes about the area. I worked with a couple of musicians during the recording and think it came out well. I would collaborate again!

Are you more or less inclined to undertake another cross-sector collaboration after this experience?

I would definitely do something like this again!

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