BIG small Talk is a chance to introduce the Harbour Collective members that work behind the scenes. Sasha Kucas sits with Liz Barron for a fun conversation full of BIG small Talk.
Liz Barron is the dream weaving, grant writing, finder of money, Manager at Harbour Collective. As we sat down for some delicious Indian food in Winnipeg, she discussed how Harbour came to be, what she is working on right now, her truck, Smith, and love of Opera.
Tell me about your role at Harbour.
My very good friend Cecilia Araneda and Jason Baerg, and I got together in Toronto, and we thought, you know what we need? We need to do some labs for Indigenous moving image makers. So we formed the Collective, applied for a digital grant, and were successful. Our first lab, Wascana was a partnership with Sâkêwêwak and Sask FilmPool that took place in Regina. It was that lab and partnership that lead to other opportunities. We have had a film lab in Meech Lake with DARC and Gallery 101. We did a film lab in Ottawa with just ourselves with support from Asinabka Film and Media Festival and Gallery 101. In 4 years, we have written grants for just under a million dollars.
What are you working on right now?
Coming up, Harbour Collective has a film festival in Regina with Sask FilmPool and Sâkêwêwak. DOCKED will mark the end of our digital grant. When we started this digital grant, we were to be gathering Indigenous artists across the country by doing a needs assessment – what do they want, what do they need, and how do we best serve artists within the community- artists that work in moving images- experimental, drama, shorts, and documentary. Then the pandemic happened, and with restricted travel, we worked with our officer at Canada Council and got an extension on our projects specifically for the filmmakers’ engagement piece. That is going to take place in Regina. Jason, Cecilia, and I did interviews individually with artists across the country. Harbour is bringing together all the artists we engaged with and, that can come to Regina.
If you could possess a superpower, what would it be and why?
OMG, I would want to be invisible so I could cruise through everything and listen to people. I am not a fan of people. So invisibility would be good. I could join in conversations, not as a participant but eavesdrop on people and conversations. I could like scare people, and they would believe in ghosts and stuff.
What would you do with that information?
Well, nothing, I just want to know about it.
With what animal do you identify?
AHH, Well, I am a Leo. I am a lion, not just a LION but a vicious man-eating rip the guts out draw blood lion.
What would you do if you won 30 million dollars?
I would start a foundation. I would give 5 million dollars to Manitoba Opera. It will be a million a year over five years. I wouldn’t care what they spend it on, like, I wouldn’t care. Spend it all, it doesn’t matter. That would be that. I would also give some to Gallery 101, to DARC in the hundreds of thousands, um.. yeah. MAWA would get money. It would be all arts organizations, and the only major presenting one would be Manitoba Opera. Other people could support the symphony and the ballet. That’s not my jam.
Why the Opera?
OMG, I SO love the Opera, and I think being able to go and sit in that space and listen to those singers with those great sets and costumes sucks you in. They are such beautiful, tragic stories, beautiful, tragic stories.
What do you think about before falling asleep?
Ahh, so I usually make my list for the next day with everything I have to do. What did not get done in a day is added to my list for the next day. Yeah, I make lists. Yeah.
Liz is one busy woman. When given a chance, she is driving around in her truck Smith, with her dog Lucy in the back, gleefully singing to Prince, AC/DC, and Nickelback – yes, Nickelback and NOT Barry Manilow.
One of the original founders of Urban Shaman Gallery, a contemporary Indigenous artist run centre based in Winnipeg, Liz Barron has been working within the arts sector for over 20 years. Her skills in managing large scale projects with various Indigenous cultural practices has developed through two major historic initiatives. Barron was the Director for the Métis 10, a Vancouver Olympic project featuring ten Metis artists and a permanent installation and was the program manager for Close Encounters: The next 500 years, an exhibition featuring more than 30 Indigenous artists from around the world and working with four curators. Barron is a registered member of the Manitoba Métis Federation.