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Guest Curators

Starting this year, we will work with guest curators from different parts of the world. Our guest curators are our eyes and ears in their own country, continent and/or community. From now on we plan to have different guest curators for each new ICAF edition. This way ICAF will not only be international in terms of its festival programming, but also in the very heart of the organization. For the upcoming ICAF-7 (themed ‘Movement’) we are proud to announce that our guest curators are: Dr. Matt Jennings (Northern Ireland), Tania Cañas (Australia) and Bonnie Chan (Hong Kong). We can’t wait to see you in 2017!

Tania Cañas

“It is not our responsibility to change our narratives to fit existing ideas of art; rather, art must change to accommodate our narratives."

Tania Cañas is a Melbourne-based performer, facilitator and researcher all within community driven settings. Her passions include books, particularly those written by writers of colour about navigating social and political spaces, and quotes. Two of her favourites are “nothing about us, without us” and Michel de Certeau’s “what the map cuts up, the story cuts across.” A great way to summarize Tania’s work is Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o’s quote “The ever-continuing struggle to seize back their creative initiative in history through a real control of all the means of communal self-definition in time and space.”


According to Tania, a good community arts project is one that provides autonomous, self-determining and self-actualising spaces; spaces that are not only community engaged but community driven. A good community arts project understands that practice is political and considers the social criteria as the artistic criteria. A good community arts project is not working for community, and sometimes not even with, but as community, exemplifying a praxis of “nothing about us, without us.” Tania sees her role as guest curator as someone who is the sensory extension of ICAF. She sees this role as particularly important as an Australian community practitioner, as Australia is cartographically distant and thus sometimes isolated from global discourse. Read the full interview with our assistant programmer here.

Matt Jennings

"Community art is anything that reminds us that all art comes from culture and all culture comes from sharing."

Matt Jennings is an actor, musician, writer, director, scholar and community arts facilitator currently living in Northern Ireland. He is also lecturer in Drama at the University of Ulster. Matt imagines his role as guest curator to be sharing the discoveries and benefits of his work as an international practitioner and researcher of community arts. He invites people who are creating work that makes a real difference within their local communities to share this work with people from other communities - to begin conversations, to make friends, to spark ideas, to start arguments, to blow our minds or change them, to break bread, taboos, barriers and the chains of personal and social limitation.


According to Matt, a good community arts practice supports the political, cultural, social and economic development and autonomy of communities and the people that create them. The potential benefits of good community arts practice are social, personal and aesthetic. These benefits can include more secure and cohesive communities and an enriched quality of life, and the celebration of cultural diversity, shared identity and the imaginative possibilities of creative play. Good community arts can support the development of cultural democracy and the idea that art can be created by anyone and everyone, not just the sanctioned elite; the discovery and nurturing of new artistic voices, perspectives and forms; of pioneering changes in relational, participatory and interdisciplinary arts; and the creation of art by, for, with and/or about its audiences and co-creators. Read the full interview with our assistant programmer here

Bonnie Chan

“ICAF is a chance for us to gather the power of the arts to bring change in a broader sense: not only in our own local communities, but to the world." 

Bonnie Chan is a theatre practitioner, performer and researcher originally from Hong Kong and currently based in London. Although a bit nervous, Bonnie is already expecting some miraculous chemistry to happen between all the different people and art forms. She's glad that this time ICAF can hopefully bring more artists and communities from Asia to the festival, including those from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Korea.



According to Bonnie, a good community arts project sparks some kind of change. The change can take place on the level of the individual, for example for a person who participated in the project, or on the level of the society. This level she believes to be more important, since the impact can be bigger and more sustainable. Read the full interview with our assistant programmer here.