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6 Degrees Calgary

Thursday, March 14, 2019
09:00 – 17:00
Jack Singer Concert Hall Lobby at Arts Commons


“Everything is art. Everything is politics.”— Ai Weiwei

Divisive forces are influencing attitudes, actions, and policies for the worse. The idea of artists as change-makers, and cultural institutions as important societal connectors is more vital than ever. Through the arts we express our cultures, our identities, our views of the present, and our visions of the future. It’s how we tell our stories, and introduce people to new places and spaces.

To navigate the politics of division, we need to have a new kind of conversation about how society deals with fundamental questions of belonging, inclusion, and social connection. We need to talk about our many identities, our many languages, and our many histories, from new arrivals to people who have been here for thousands of years. We need to talk about arts and culture as a shared and shareable language. Calgary, as a vibrant, creative, and ever-evolving city, has much to share about the complexities and challenges of real inclusion, and the role of culture and the arts in fostering belonging.  

6 Degrees is a global conversation about citizenship and inclusion. We involve the brightest minds and the boldest methods, bringing thinkers, doers, artists, politicians, and activists together in a unique forum.

Join us for a full day of engaging and interactive conversation and action on the role of culture and the arts in building inclusive societies.



360: Where We Stand
What is the role of culture in the face of division? We know that cultural institutions, and the creators within them, are important connectors. They share stories and histories, they express identities and values, and they help us make sense of who we are. There are many programs, policies, people, and projects that work to welcome, connect, and enable the discovery of new perspectives. What can we learn from them about how we can better serve our communities? How does culture connect us to each other, and why is that so important?

360: Where We Go
Culture is a shared and shareable language. It can turn connection and community into empathy, understanding, and genuine belonging. It holds countless ways to bridge divides, but how do we push further? What can we do better? How can inclusive culture be a tool for change? It’s time for a new vision.

Change your language, change your thinking. For centuries, coffeehouses have been meeting spots for lively debates about current events, politics, art, and culture. By interrogating the language we use around inclusion, belonging, and culture, we look to change minds and policies alike. Have your say in defining the terms that matter, and informing the conversations of the day.

Making Spaces
Arts and culture can push boundaries, can teach, and can create spaces for many voices. But, too frequently, cultural institutions and programs are not focused on welcoming a broad diversity of voices. Who decides what is exhibited, curated, and performed? The design of a space or its contents? The intended audience? And what can it look like when institutions try  to include as many voices as possible in each of these decisions? Join this session to explore how to build ideological and physical spaces for people to see themselves reflected in the cultural life of Canada.

Breaking Barriers
Culture is a clear path to inclusion, but there are many systemic barriers that prevent cultural institutions, policy-makers, and creators from making the sector truly inclusive. What are they, and how can we creatively work through them? Are there examples of projects or processes we can emulate? From other industries? From each other? Join this workshop focused on redesigning policy and practice, and co-creating a resilient and inclusive arts and culture sector.

What’s Next?
For our final 360, we bring forward key conversations and outcomes from the day of conversations at 6 Degrees Calgary. Calling on any and all in attendance, we open the circle: everyone is a participant, all voices are equal. Together, we frame what we’ve discovered as a group, and decide what the next steps should be.



09:00 – 09:30
Welcome and warm-up
360 Stage
with Adrienne Clarkson, John Ralston Saul, and Elder Wolfleg

9:30 – 10:45
360: Where We Stand
360 Stage
hosted by Rachel Giese
with Wedad Amiri, Stephen Borys, Jan Derbyshire, Mii-Sum-In-Iskum (Justin Many Fingers), and The Honourable Ricardo Miranda

10:45 – 11:15

11:15 – 12:30

Upper Lobby
hosted by Abdul-Rehman Malik and Scott Young
with Wedad Amiri, Francis Boakye, Pam Krause, Julia Matamoros, Lachlin McKinnon, Nirmala Naidoo, Esmahan Razavi, Salima Stanley-Bhanji, Rabah Swaidek, and Ryan van der Marel

Making Spaces
The Hub
hosted by Irfhan Rawji
with Col Cseke, Janice Price, and Yasmine Mohamed

Breaking Barriers
Founders Room
hosted by Ellen Close
with Christine Armstrong, Mark Hopkins, Landon Krentz, Patti Pon, Marivic Prospero, and Jenna Rodgers

12:30 – 13:30
Upper Lobby

13:30 – 14:00
Exchange shareback and Performance
360 Stage
Abdul-Rehman Malik
Performer: Priscille Bukasa

14:00 – 15:30
360: Where We Go
360 Stage
hosted by Rachel Giese
with Shadrach Kabango (Shad), Antonio Martínez Velázquez, Sage Paul, and Jenna Rodgers

15:30 – 16:00

16:00 – 17:00
What’s Next? and Closing Remarks
360 Stage
hosted by Abdul-Rehman Malik
with Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul

17:00 – 18:30


  • Wedad Amiri, founder and CEO, Afflatus Hijab (Canada)
  • Francis BoakyeVP, Strategy, Centre for Newcomers (Canada/Ghana)
  • Dr. Stephen Borys, Director and CEO, Winnipeg Art Gallery (Canada)
  • The Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, 26th Governor General of Canada and Co-chair of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (Canada)
  • Ellen Close, playwright, director, and actor (Canada)
  • Col Cseke, Artistic Director, Inside Out Theatre (Canada)
  • Jan (JD) Derbyshire, artist, producer, inclusive designer, and educator (Canada)
  • Rachel Giese, journalist and author of Boys: What It Means to Become a Man (Canada)
  • Mark Hopkins, Artistic Director, Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre (Canada)
  • Shadrach Kabango (Shad), rapper and Host of Hip Hop Evolution (Canada)
  • Pam Krause, President and CEO, Centre for Sexuality (Canada)
  • Abdul-Rehman MalikPostgraduate Associate at Yale University and Program Manager at Radical Middle Way (Canada/US)
  • Antonio Martínez VelázquezSpokesperson, Secretary of Culture of Mexico (Secretaría de Cultura de México) (Mexico)
  • Julia Matamoros, Partnership Officer, Cultural Access Pass, Institute for Canadian Citizenship (Canada/Mexico)
  • Lachlin McKinnon, Co-founder, Prospector Executive Search & Consulting (Canada)
  • Mii-Sum-In-Iskum (Long Time Buffalo Rock) Justin Many FingersArtistic Director, Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society (Kanawa Nation)
  • The Honourable Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism of Alberta, and Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Calgary-Cross (Canada/Nicaragua)
  • Nirmala Naidooveteran journalist and politician (Canada)
  • Sage Paul, artist, designer, and innovative leader for Indigenous fashion, craft, and textiles (Canada)
  • Patti PonPresident and CEO of Calgary Arts Development, arts champion (Canada)
  • Janice Price, President and CEO, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (Canada)
  • Marivic ProsperoCareer and Employment Associate Director, Centre for Newcomers (Canada/Philippines)
  • Irfhan Rawji, founder and CEO of MobSquad, board member of the Institute for Canadian CitizenshipChair, Board of Governors, Glenbow Museum (Canada)
  • Esmahan Razavi, community organizer and activist (Canada/Saudi Arabia/Turkey)
  • Jenna Rodgers, director, dramaturge, and Artistic Director of Chromatic Theatre (Canada)
  • John Ralston Saul, award-winning essayist and novelist, and Co-chair of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (Canada)
  • Salima Stanley-Bhanji, CEO, Humainologie, award-winning filmmaker and lawyer (Canada/Australia)
  • Rabah SwaidekCommunity Engagement Coordinator, Centre for Newcomers (Canada/Libya)
  • Ryan van der Marel, environmental strategist (Canada)

Click here to see the full bios of 6 Degrees Calgary speakers


Click here to read our March 12 op-ed in the Calgary Herald

Click here to read our news release announcing 6 Degrees Calgary