Banff Centre for the Arts
Aboriginal Streaming Project
(Banff, Alberta, Canada)
Since 1933, the Banff Centre for the Arts has proven itself to be among the most important centres dedicated to the professional development of Canadian and international artists. Its primary objective is to offer a stimulating environment for fostering artistic creation.
Jacques Perron © 2003 FDL
From May 15 to 17, 1999 the Banff Center Media & Visual Arts Department organized an event called Synch or Stream: A think tank on audiovisual media . The goal of the summit was to reflect on the real time streaming of audio and visual content on the Internet. How is this technology being used; if it isn't being used, what are the obstacles; what future potential does it hold? The participants, hailing from all around the world, shared their experience in the matter. The subjects that were discussed included different practices (tactical considerations, political uses, net.radio, artist projects, chatting, etc.).
Based on the discussions that took place during this summit the project supported by the foundation, Aboriginal Streaming Project, continued on the 18th and 19th of May with the goal of benefiting from the information shared by applying it specifically to aboriginal communities and their needs. Several subjects were on the agenda: to assess the situation of aboriginal radios, to develop an infrastructure for Internet streamed radio in aboriginal communities, and to organize a practical workshop in the year 2000 to introduce aboriginals to the possibilities of real time streaming on the Internet.
These encounters were part of the Banff Center's program dedicated to aboriginal arts the mandate of which is to promote the growth of aboriginal communities and the networking between these communities; to explore artistic practices as a means of cultural survival; and to introduce aboriginals to new media, radio, writing, publishing, the performing arts and theory.
Among the positive consequences of the event, let us mention the creation of "Aboriginal Internet Radio.network" (AIR.net). Among the participants there was Howard Jones, the director of iHAC (International Humanitarian Aid Communication) a UK non-governmental organization that supports different communication projects since 1994. Jones set up the first Internet server in Sarajevo, and he is also the architect of CORE, a confederation consisting of interFACE, Pirate-Radio and British Telecom that explores the educational aspects of Internet broadcasting by putting emphasis on youth-oriented content. Attentive to the exchanges between participants and the discussion concerning a market study to set up a network of radios, Jones offered 16 computers in order to launch the project. A declaration of intent was to be drawn up before the iHAC would approve the pilot project.
AIR.net consists of an association of community and independent radio stations spread around North America that belong to aboriginal owners. The intention of AIR.net was to organize a network of Internet radio stations by using streaming technologies. Basing themselves on the experience of the pilot project the aboriginal communities were able to evaluate the feasibility and the pertinence of the implementation of these technologies within their communities.