Sensorium researcher receives Banting Fellowship

December 11, 2015

Sensorium researcher receives Banting Fellowship

Post-doctoral researcher Mary Elizabeth (M.E.) Luka has been awarded a prestigious Banting Fellowship to conduct research within the Sensorium Centre for Digital Arts & Technology in the School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design.

“By providing an incisive analysis of how they are materially and socially networked, M.E. Luka’s research is pushing theories of global cultural citizenship into promising new directions,” said Kenneth Rogers, the School’s associate dean, research. “We’re proud to have her here at AMPD as a  Banting Fellow.”

Mary Elizabeth (M.E.) Luka

Mary Elizabeth (M.E.) Luka

Luka’s Banting research project is titled “From creative citizenship to globally networked cultural collaborations: Imagining culture, identity and creative work today.” It uses the concept of creative citizenship to investigate how civic, culture and business sectors are networked in the digital age, including the intricate ways that governments, universities, corporations and social enterprises connect. The concept of creative citizenship established by Luka’s previous research helps analyze cultural industries and creative labour policy and practices. New approaches to cultural production emerge through knowledge sharing, policy activation and creative practices that address social goals, resource limits and opportunities.

Luka’s research is crucial to help cultural workers shape their careers and lives, for employers to cultivate inspiring work environments both within and outside of the culture sector, and for governments and universities to effectively generate deeper civic, creative and business engagements and commitments – all redefining what it is to be Canadian in a global, digital era.

“The bottom line is about contributing to a more sustainable and creative work and life environment,” said Luka. “By investigating specific sites of cultural collaboration, I want to better understand best practices for project and investment evaluations. It’s important to look at how we apply our resources – especially human resources.

“Economic outcomes, like jobs created or business revenue, are easy metrics to capture, but we also need to think about: how healthy is our society? What is our cultural identity? And what is the state of our creative capacity? These areas are hard to measure and important to figure out.”

MaRS Centre, South Tower 101 College Street, Toronto

The MaRS Centre, 101 College Street, Toronto

Some of the key hubs, incubators and research centres Luka plans to investigate are Sensorium itself and the ways in which the School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design connects to the Schulich School of Business at York, as well as to MIT Media and Open Documentary Labs in Boston, MA through Sensorium; the former ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation at Queensland University of Technology in Australia and its current Creative Industries partnership structure; Toronto’s MaRS and/or the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto and New York; Ryerson University’s ‘zone learning’ and pan-university collaborations with Simon Fraser University and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology building on the successes of Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone; the Montreal-based creativity/sustainable entrepreneurial C2MTL conference partnership; and a UK site to be determined in part by a visit to Goldsmiths University’s Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship. This set of sites will be contextualized by research on measures of success promoted by international initiatives such as TED Talks, boasting over a billion views of its widely shared short, inspirational lectures recorded on video; the Tamarack Foundation, a Canadian social enterprise galvanizing collaboration on social issue solutions; and/or, an international, virtual social enterprise supported by global design company IDEO, linking crowdsourced solutions to global social issues.

York Cinema & Media Arts Professor Janine Marchessault, former Canada Research Chair in Art, Digital Media and Globalization, is supervising Luka’s research.

From Janine Marchessault's Land|Slide Possible Futures. Laura St. Pierre, Urban Vernacular, 2013. Sculpture, Photo Intervention. Photo: Will Pemulis

Image from Janine Marchessault’s Land|Slide Possible Futures project. Laura St. Pierre: “Urban Vernacular”, 2013. Sculpture and photo Intervention. Photo: Will Pemulis

“I benefit from Janine’s interrelated network of connections, and vice-versa,” said Luka. “I’m also looking forward to working with her on the development of funding proposals and structures for the proposed Canadian Moving Images Archives Network (CMIAN), a national network of public, independent and university-centred archives of digital and analogue media to be based at York’s Sensorium. Grounded in the digital humanities as well as experimental filmmaking, CMIAN will support a series of innovative, exploratory case studies that curate and present Canadian films, experimental media works and the policy required to enable a 21st-century approach to living media archives.”

A Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar, Luka received a Governor General’s Gold Medal for her doctoral dissertation at Concordia University on the meaning and potential of “creative citizenship”. As a cultural industries management consultant, she has supported clients such as Strategic Arts Management, Canadian Public Arts Funders and the Canada Dance Festival.  She is a founding member of Narratives in Space + Time Society, the current Chair of Arts Nova Scotia, and an award-winning producer and director of digital media whose credits include the 10-year project CBC ArtSpots.

The purpose of the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships is to build world-class research capacity by recruiting top-tier Canadian and international postdoctoral researchers at an internationally competitive level of funding. Seventy fellowships are awarded yearly through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada. The fellowships carry a value of $70,000 per year for two years.