Tania Cañas is a Melbourne-based theatre maker, facilitator and researcher all within community driven settings. She is the Arts Director at RISE Refugee, Australia’s first Refugee and Asylum seeker organisation run and governed by the community. Tania’s passions include books, particularly those written by writers of colour about navigating social and political spaces. Two of her favourite quotations are: “nothing about us, without us” and Michel de Certeau’s “what the map cuts up, the story cuts across.” A third quotation that inspires Tania’s work is from the Kenyan scholar and playwright Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s: “The ever-continuing struggle to seize back 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.