What insights would you gain from a one-on-one conversation with an artist at a different point in their career from you? If they were to share their stories, their love of art and maybe even provide some honest advice?

The Why Art Podcast, a new podcast premiering June 11 at 10am promises its listeners exactly that. In each of the series’ eight episodes, co-founders and hosts Rose Hopkins and Laura Welch have one-on-one conversations with artists at different points in their careers from different art forms all along the same common theme. The podcast is being presented as part of the Hamilton Arts Council’s 2020 Arts Week.

The idea came together when Hopkins returned to Hamilton from a trip abroad and reconnected with high-school friend Welch. The two discussed the idea of creating a podcast together, but weren’t sure exactly what the theme would be. When the Arts Council announced funding opportunities for events during Arts Week, the two refocused their efforts.

“And that’s when we brainstormed the two main questions- why do you do art, and why is it important?” says co-host Welch on the formation of the podcast.

In addition to the central questions that guide the discussion of the podcast, Hopkins, Welch and the guest artist also discuss individual creative processes, their individual career paths and topics of interest to the guest artist.  

“Through those conversations, we’ve been able to talk about some really important topics that are important to the artists we talk to, but also to Laura and I too.” says Hopkins. “So we’ve been able to talk about gender inequality in the arts; we’ve talked about diversity and inclusion; we talk to artists of colour; we’ve talked about money, sustainable careers. So it’s been interesting to have those kind of conversations through the lens of an artist.”

When selecting artists to participate in the podcast, Hopkins and Welch knew they would need to look beyond their own theatre experience in order to create episodes that would be valuable to the entire arts community. Welch drew upon personal contacts in the visual arts community, and both hosts reached out to artists in the music and dance community to try to ensure a variety of disciplines, experiences and perspectives could be offered. Their hope is that the podcast highlights the similarities among artists of different disciplines, rather than the differences in medium.

“I know from my conversations with painters, that I’ve learned a lot about my work as an actor.” Reflected Welch. “And I just knew that those conversations were really valuable across disciplines, so we made sure to have a wide spectrum of artistic disciplines represented so we could all learn from each other.”

Each episode is approximately thirty minutes in length and features a different artist. The first season, in which episodes will be released on a daily basis beginning on June 11, consists of eight separate conversations. Episodes can be downloaded or streamed through major podcast platforms, including Spotify, Google Podcast and Apple Podcast. For those unable to listen during Arts Week, episodes will continue to be available on these platforms, in addition to the podcast’s website.

At this point, there is no plan to record future seasons or episodes. When asked about the series’ future, Hopkins and Welch acknowledge the challenge of creating any work of art long-term, and that both an investment of funds and time need to be committed to in order to make the podcast sustainable on a longer term basis- like many of the art that they discuss on the podcast. However, the benefit of the series is something that they are quick to reflect on, and hope that listeners will be equally proud to carry into their work after listening to these new perspectives.

“Talking to all of the artists made me feel really refreshed and excited about the possibilities of what art can look like in Hamilton, especially when we have conversations with each other and connect with each other across disciplines and across career levels.” Says Hopkins. “I would like to do more of that in my work and in my life going forward.”

The Why Art Podcast Season One Schedule

June 11- Mayumi Lashbrook
June 12- Rebekka Gondosch
June 13- Emma Smith
June 14- Karen Ancheta
June 15- Josh Taylor
June 16- Jody Joseph
June 17- John Terpstra
June 18- Gemma New

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