Narrative Change Lab 2021

2021 Applications Are Now Closed

THE INITIATIVE

In November 2020Inspirit Foundation launched the inaugural Narrative Change Lab. This national initiative supports underrepresented communities in the development of pop culture strategies that advance equity, and shift narrative power in the arts and media sectors. We believe the stories we encounter through mainstream cultural production of television, film, music, art, and journalism can better reflect a pluralistic society. The Lab is an opportunity for creative leaders to collaborate and imagine new ways to right historical omissions, fight hateful stereotypes, and seed new stories in the Canadian pop culture landscape. We are inviting applications for a ten-month Fellowship to co-lead the 2021 Lab with Inspirit. Learn more about our inaugural theme and how to apply below.

2021 THEME: REIMAGINING MUSLIM NARRATIVES

Our 2021 theme will focus on Muslim communities in Canada and their narratives.

The first Muslims arrived in Canada in 1854. They brought with them their stories, cultures, foods, weaving them into the fabric of Canadian identity. But Muslims have never been seen nor treated as equal Canadian citizens. In the two decades since 9/11, Islamophobia has spiked nationally and globally, despite increased efforts by both Muslim and non-Muslim communities to educate the public on the systemic discrimination and racism faced by Muslims in countries around the world.

Here in Canada, a 2018 Environics Survey concluding the following: “Of all the distinct groups in Canadian society today, Muslims are most widely considered to be the ‘other’ because of where they come from, associations with terrorism in other countries, and specific religious practices like head coverings.”

These stereotypes are reflected throughout the Canadian arts and media landscape; we see content depicting Muslims consistently failing the ‘Riz Test.‘ Opportunities for Canadian Muslims to frame their own stories and experiences have been few and far between. This needs to change.

LAB UPDATES

We are pleased to introduce the jury for the 2021 Narrative Change Lab. We welcome Pacinthe Mattar, Omer Ismael, and Khadija Aziz as our external jurors for the Lab. Our three external jurors were chosen through an outreach and application process and they bring strong experience in the arts and/or media sectors, pop culture, and deep knowledge of and engagement with Muslim communities in Canada. Learn more about the exciting work they are doing and their interests in this Lab.

Pacinthe Mattar
[Phonetically: pah-SENT MAT-tar]
Journalist, Writer, and Producer
@Pacinthe

My life can be summarized by this Georges Simenon quote: ““I am at home everywhere, and nowhere. I am never a stranger and I never quite belong.” Growing up between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and Toronto between cultures, different worlds, in between languages and communities, it was so rare to see that kind of experience reflected in art, literature, and news.

I’ve always been drawn to stories of being on the periphery, of being both at home and homesick simultaneously, no matter where. Stories that don’t fit neat, clean narratives. I also grew up seeing how often women, and Muslim women specifically, are written about, spoken for, and how little space or agency they are given to write, create and shape stories about their own lives. That’s what drew me to a career in media and storytelling, and now as a juror for the Narrative Change Lab.

Khadija Aziz (She/Her)
Textile Artist & Educator
www.khadijaaziz.com

I am a Toronto-based textile artist and educator currently pursuing an MFA at Concordia University. My commitment to community engagement through arts is rooted in inclusivity, accessibility, and intuitive learning. From my experience in facilitating public narrative workshops through the Institute for Change Leaders, I have learned to incorporate storytelling and narrative-building exercises into my community education practice to empower more people to take pride and ownership of their personal stories. As a South Asian immigrant artist, I am familiar with the challenges faced by marginalized professionals in creative institutions and the industry.

This Lab is important to me because I want my younger cousins to see more diversity in the arts so that they can focus on building their narratives rather than justifying their experiences.

Omer Ismael
Program Manager and Strategist
Digital Main Street
@omerismael

I am a program manager and strategist committed to addressing community change through arts, technology, and entrepreneurship. For over a decade I have led programming at several non-profit organizations, museums, and festivals where I designed training programs and strategic partnerships that worked to serve newcomers, youth, and young professionals across Toronto. Arts and culture have always been a powerful way for me to address issues present in my community and throughout my career. I’ve designed programs that leveraged different forms of artistic expression to address issues ranging from anti-black racism, equity, and youth violence prevention.

I use art as a tool to address issues of inequality, just as mass media has been used as a tool for perpetuating stereotypes of Muslims and adding fuel to the fires of Islamophobia. And, through the Narrative Change Lab, I am excited to be a part of the process of undoing these narratives and rebuilding narratives of Muslims, by Muslims themselves.

The three external jurors will be joined by Inspirit Manager of Programming, Angie Balata, to review applications for the Fellowship position. We received an overwhelming number of applications and now the jury has the difficult job of sorting through candidates who work within and have deep knowledge of the arts and/or media sectors, a passion for pop culture, and lived experience and connections within Canadian Muslim communities. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed mid to late January. A Fellow will be chosen by the first week in February 2021.

THE INSPIRIT NARRATIVE CHANGE LAB FELLOWSHIP

Applications are now closed. The jury will select a 2021 Fellow who works within and has deep knowledge of the arts and/or media sectors, a passion for pop culture, and lived experience and connections within Canadian Muslim communities.

The Fellow will receive a $65,000 stipend to co-lead the Lab with Inspirit from February-December 2021. The expected time commitment is approximately 25-28 hours per week.  Inspirit will also provide additional funds to cover the associated costs of running the Lab.

DELIVERABLES

The Fellow will:

  • Collaborate with Inspirit to convene and facilitate a multi-disciplinary cohort of Muslim practitioners to develop innovative approaches to counteract and go beyond Islamophobic tropes within Canadian pop culture;
  • Generate creative strategies and solutions to amplify diverse Muslim-led pop culture narratives through public arts and media events/projects;
  • Provide research and insights into the current landscape of Muslim impact and engagement in arts/culture and media in Canada; and,
  • Elevate public dialogue and awareness of critical issues within Muslim communities and the broader public around Muslim identity through associated public and community engagement activities.

Please note: The final design and deliverables of the Lab will be mutually agreed upon with Inspirit during a kick-off phase in February 2021.

FELLOWSHIP CRITERIA 

The Fellow will demonstrate:

  • Deep experience and knowledge of the arts/culture and/or media sectors in Canada;
  • Experience using storytelling and pop culture tools to shift narratives and advance social change;
  • Knowledge of and experience in multiple storytelling platforms and/or disciplines, including, but not limited to: web, podcast, print, film, television, and radio; and/or, visual arts, performance, music, comedy, etc.
  • Commitment to civic engagement and strong relationships in a diversity of Canadian Muslim communities;
  • An ability to collaborate with others, and develop and maintain positive working relationships;
  • Experience and demonstrated skills in engaging and facilitating groups.

Additional skills and characteristics:

  • Based in and eligible to work in Canada;
  • Eagerness to listen and engage diverse perspectives of others;
  • Self-starter with strong project management skills;
  • Exceptional research skills;
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, and the ability to convey information effectively for a variety of audiences;
  • An understanding of systems and strategy development;
  • Comfort with risk and exploration in an emergent and highly experimental process.

TIMELINE

  • Applications open: November 11, 2020
  • Application deadline: December 7, 2020
  • Selection process: December 9, 2020 – January 14, 2021
  • Shortlisted candidates notified and interviews: January 18 – 22, 2021
  • Selected Fellow notified: February 1, 2021

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the deadline to apply for the Fellowship?

Applications to the Narrative Change Lab are now closed.

Can I apply with another person?

Applicants must apply individually.

Who can apply?

In keeping with Inspirit’s commitment to equity, we encourage self-identifying Muslims from across Canada with relevant experience to apply. We are committed to all forms of diversity and welcome applications from all racial, ethnic, and sectarian backgrounds. We also welcome candidates with disabilities, as well as all genders and sexualities.

Accommodations are available upon request for candidates with disabilities taking part in all aspects of the recruitment and selection process. Please contact us at 416-644-3600 or info@inspiritfoundation.org to discuss how we can assist.

How do I know if I’m qualified?

We are looking for applicants who demonstrate:

  • Deep experience and knowledge of the arts/culture and/or media sectors in Canada;
  • Experience using storytelling and pop culture tools to shift narratives and advance social change;
  • Knowledge of and experience in multiple storytelling platforms and/or disciplines, including, but not limited to: web, podcast, print, film, television, and radio; and/or, visual arts, performance, music, comedy, etc.
  • Commitment to civic engagement and strong relationships in a diversity of Canadian Muslim communities;
  • An ability to collaborate with others, and develop and maintain positive working relationships;
  • Experience and demonstrated skills in engaging and facilitating groups.

Additional skills and characteristics:

  • Based in and eligible to work in Canada;
  • Eagerness to listen and engage diverse perspectives of others;
  • Self-starter with strong project management skills;
  • Exceptional research skills;
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, and the ability to convey information effectively for a variety of audiences;
  • An understanding of systems and strategy development;
  • Comfort with risk and exploration in an emergent and highly experimental process.
What kinds of arts and/or media experience are you looking for?

We are considering participants from all artistic practices and media backgrounds.

What Is the Lab NOT?
  • This Lab is not intended to be an academic study or major research report on the Muslim arts and media landscape in Canada. Although some research on the current Muslim landscape is necessary, it should not be considered the final product for this Lab.
  • Individual project funding.
  • Individual skills training workshops. The Lab is not intended to focus on individual or group skills training.
  • An account of all the obstacles facing Muslim creative and content creators, without practical solutions being offered for these obstacles;

The main aim of this Lab is to consider and identify solutions for multi-layered Muslim narratives to access the pop culture space. What type of initiatives will support Muslim narrative-making in Canada? How do we achieve shifts in narrative power for Muslim communities in Canada?

What deliverables are there?

We view this project as a collaboration between Inspirit Foundation and the Lab Fellow. While we have identified some general deliverables, we expect that final deliverables will be further developed by the Lab Fellow in collaboration with those participating in the Lab. Broad deliverables include:

  • Collaborate with Inspirit to convene and facilitate a multi-disciplinary cohort of Muslim practitioners to develop innovative approaches to counteract and go beyond Islamophobic tropes within Canadian pop culture;
  • Generate creative strategies and solutions to amplify diverse Muslim-led pop culture narratives through public arts and media events/projects;
  • Provide research and insights into the current landscape of Muslim impact and engagement in arts/culture and media in Canada; and,
  • Elevate public dialogue and awareness of critical issues within Muslim communities and the broader public around Muslim identity through associated public and community engagement activities.

Please note: The final design and deliverables of the Lab will be mutually agreed upon with Inspirit during a kick-off phase in February 2021.

Can I apply for project funding through this Lab?

No. While our other work focuses on funding projects and organizations that align with our goals and activities, this Lab is not a granting program. Rather, we are taking a step back to consider what initiatives are needed to access the pop culture space, which types of initiatives will support the intersection of narrative-making and pop culture, and how to achieve shifts in narrative power for Muslim communities.

For funding inquiries, please email us at grants@inspiritfoundation.org.

What support will Inspirit provide?
  • As a Fellow you will receive a $65,000 stipend to co-lead the Lab with Inspirit from February-December 2021. The expected time commitment is approximately 25-28 hours per week.
  • Inspirit will also provide additional funds to cover the associated costs of running the Lab.
  • Research and travel budget (to be determined)
  • Stipends for participants in the Lab for the duration of the Lab
  • Administrative support from Inspirit Foundation
Can this be my full-time job?

The expected time commitment is approximately 25-28 hours per week.

The stipend does not cover health or other benefits, and the Fellow will not be Inspirit employee.

This project will not prohibit the Fellow from taking on other work, but the Fellow will be expected to meet monthly mutually agreed upon deliverables to Inspirit.

Will I be an employee of Inspirit?

No. The Fellow and Lab participants will be engaged as independent contractors of Inspirit.

What if I have questions that haven’t been answered here?

If you have any questions that have not been answered here or need any clarifications, please email Angie Balata at grants@inspiritfoundation.org.