The doors to international exchanges have been opened wide with the recent signing of agreements between the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Fine Arts, the Centro Nacional de Las Artes (CENART) in Mexico and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology's (RMIT) School of Art.
"These accords set in place an agreement and a process for faculty artists from across the Faculty of Fine Arts' disciplines – visual art, drama, new media and music – to participate in residency exchange programs with artists from Australia and Mexico," says Dr. Desmond Rochfort, University of Lethbridge Faculty of Fine Arts dean. "Likewise, the accords provide opportunities for artists from Mexico and Australia to work and study in Lethbridge on a residency."
The agreement with Mexico's CENART, signed in November by Roberto Vázquez Díaz, Director General of CENART and Rochfort at a ceremony in Mexico City, provides opportunities for creative residencies in the National Centre's headquarters in Mexico City, as well as in its 15 satellite locations throughout the country. Three additional satellites are also in the process of being developed.
A major strategic investment in culture and the arts by the Mexican government has made these centres into major arts training and cultural facilities. They are designed to focus on creative arts education and research, as well as bring together artists from a variety of creative disciplines and different countries in an environment that combines tradition and the latest technologies.
The Australian residency exchange agreement has a more narrow focus.
"The agreement with the Artists International Residency program at RMIT provides residency opportunities for visual artists and new media artists from the U of L Faculty of Fine Arts," says Rochfort. "The accord also provides opportunities for artists from Australia to come to Lethbridge for a creative residency here."
"Both agreements are important strategic initiatives by the U of L Faculty of Fine Arts to broaden opportunities for international exchange in the field of the creative arts," he says. "Artist exchanges provide opportunities for both creative collaboration and interdisciplinary work as well as the opportunity to work in the context of a different culture."
According to Rochfort, another important component of both agreements is the development of exchanges among Aboriginal, Indigenous and First Nations artists in Australia, Canada and Mexico.
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