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Call for Rural Representatives for Digital Strategies Workshop: July 20 – 22, 2018

Call for Rural Representatives for Digital Strategies Workshop: July 20 – 22, 2018

Thanks to all of you who gave feedback on our upcoming workshops on writing in the Digital Age. We had a chance to speak with many of you during our recent AGM and conference, and also received a lot of messages from writers throughout the province helping us understand what you want us to focus on during the workshops.

We have outlined our proposed plan below. Please let us know as soon as possible if you have questions or concerns. The Canada Council’s schedule does not give us much time to complete our work, but we want you to have the chance to provide feedback on the process.

The process is designed to accept and incorporate feedback at any time, so even if you cannot attend any of the meetings, we will acknowledge and record your input, and incorporate it into our work.

Most of the member feedback focused on three areas: copyright, social media/marketing, and internet access in rural regions. The workshop structure is designed to make progress in all three areas. Also based on member feedback, we will ensure that our approaches focus on benefiting writers first and foremost, and that we  implement approaches that are bold and new, and not merely replicate approaches used by others. Our plan is to put the WGA in a leadership role in the national conversation about writing and publishing and hope to share our approach with other organizations across the country.

Our workshops will primarily address three areas:

1.     Copyright: The government has announced that they will be changing Canadian Copyright law and have asked for input from artists. We plan on submitting a formal brief explaining the needs of writers. There are several areas of the new law that we will address, but primarily we are concerned with proper attribution and remuneration for our writers.

2.     Social Media / Marketing: Many of our members complained about the added work required if they are expected to become their own marketers, which takes time away from writing. We will be launching a program to help support an approach that will allow for greater impact, with less effort. Importantly, this strategy does not involve everyone having to use social media, rather that social media be used to serve writers and writing, and not the other way around.

3.     Internet Access: With members distributed throughout the province, many of us do not have access to reliable broadband. We are working to find near term solutions to fill the gap between our current challenges and the government’s stated goal of having ubiquitous broadband throughout the country. Alberta has one advantage when it comes to addressing this problem: we have a high speed fibre optic network called the SuperNet that was put in a few years ago. It connects the entire province and we are working to find ways that existing network could be used to feed hubs and get connection to our members.

Proposed Plan

We have to move quickly in order to meet the deadlines for reporting. Canada Council’s answer came back late this year, but the reporting deadline still has to be met. We apologize for the challenge to your summer schedule.

Workshop 1 will be held in Edmonton as a central location. Regional workshops will be arranged according to the wishes of the regional group and / or its representative. In our planning we discussed the idea of representation from Southern Alberta, South Central, North Central, North West, and North East. With members in so many cities, we have the opportunity to decide where meetings occur, but we will work to ensure meetings happen in enough areas to provide as much access as possible.

  • Workshop 1, July 20 – 22, 2018: Representatives from throughout the province will meet in Edmonton to craft the approaches to each of the three key areas. We will have an informal welcome and set of demonstrations on the Friday night, and Saturday and Sunday will be full work days, ending at dinner time on Sunday. This weekend will be led by Dr. Patrick Finn, Associate Professor at the University of Calgary’s School of Creative and Performing Arts and keynote speaker at the WGA’s recent conference, and Owen Brierley, Executive Director of Edmonton Digital Arts College.

  • Regional Workshops: Representatives will return to their regions, and host meetings with members in their area, explaining the proposed approach, and getting notes for improvements, then submitting a report to the WGA. Dates will be determined by local representatives and writers from the respective regions, with the knowledge that a report of their work needs to be submitted one week prior to Workshop 2.

  • Workshop 2, August 24 – 26, 2018: Patrick, Owen, and WGA staff will reconvene in Edmonton to use the input received from regional meetings and work to implement the programs. Portions of the workshop will be shared live online with the membership, but representatives do not need to commit to dates. We will provide assistance for members in regions with poor broadband access to participate in the live share.

Who Should Attend

Workshop 1 is designed as working sessions that prepare attendees to return to their regions, work with local members and report back. One representative per region is best for the workshops, but as many as possible at the regional meetings is encouraged. Our Canada Council grant will cover the cost of travel and accommodations for the representatives who come to Edmonton for the workshops. Funding will also be provided for the regional meetings. If you are interested in being a representative for your region and can commit to the July 20 – 22 workshop, please let us know as soon as possible.

How to Participate

You may provide feedback at any time. Messages will be entered in the formal record and be shared with the group, although we will not share names or identifying information without prior consent. All members will receive updates from the workshops and feedback will be included in the process.

For more information, or to submit feedback, interest, and availability for the workshops, please contact Giorgia at [email protected].

We are grateful to the Canada Council for the Arts for making this initiative possible.

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