This fall, with the support of the School of Fine Art and Music at the University of Guelph, Guelph Arts Council is pleased to once again launch the Guelph Emerging Artist Mentorship Project (GEAMP). It will be the 10th iteration of this highly successful program that supports emerging artists in their critical transition to professional life.
Guelph visual and media artists, musicians and cultural managers can apply now until Sunday, September 19th at 11:59 pm online at guelpharts.ca. The project pairs emerging creatives with established professionals in the community. Emerging artists and mentors will engage in 4-6 hours of mentorship sessions throughout the months of October and November, sharing experiences and perspectives. This is an opportunity to connect with a like-minded creative while acquiring valuable first hand knowledge of creative careers, and more specifically, the Guelph arts community.
Previous mentors have included curators, arts administrators, practicing artists, composers and established musicians who are important members of the Guelph arts community. Mentees have gained valuable insight into starting an arts business, writing a CV, recording an album, building relationships with commercial galleries and sustaining a creative life.
With applications now open, we wanted to catch up with a past GEAMP mentee participant to see what they have been up to since completing the program in 2021.
Nina Platiša was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia. She is a lifelong pianist who began composing music at the age of seventeen. Nina’s dynamic music is emotional and introspective, spanning various forms from solo piano to electro-infused soul. Her debut album Za Klavir: For the Piano is a collection of original compositions for solo piano. The pieces combine minimal, contemporary, and classical roots with elements of traditional Balkan folk music. Za Klavir was recorded at Port William Sound in Mountain Grove, Ontario and was released in April of this year.
Nina was mentored by local musician Jeff Bird.
Time spent with your mentor can be conducted in a variety of ways such as meetings over coffee, attending local exhibitions (some in the past have even made the journey out to the Toronto arts scene), Zoom meetings, email, and much more. In Nina’s case she was afforded the opportunity to visit Jeff’s studio, which resulted in hands-on experience with the basics of at-home recording and production. Nina explained that having someone in the industry as a mentor was an invaluable experience that gave her a real advantage that formal education or online resources sometimes lack.
Mentorship programs such as GEAMP offer participants the opportunity to take charge of what they want to learn. Perhaps you are a visual artist with a large body of work and experience exhibiting your work but want to improve your grant writing skills. Maybe you’re a recent Theatre graduate looking for tips on landing auditions. At the time of her participation, Nina was working on a larger body of work (her debut album Za Klavir: For the Piano, since released), and Jeff’s real-world learned experiences helped prepare her for the project’s release. She already possessed formal musical training but the program helped her to learn about the recording and production process, and also gain valuable knowledge and resources for preparing for a big release and how to source venues for shows.
The GEAMP program welcomes emerging artists in any stage of life that wish to engage in meaningful experiences with mentors and other mentees to further their artistic careers. Nina told us that around the time she submitted her application she had recently moved to Guelph and was in a quiet stage of her artistic career. She had only released a few smaller works but was still in an emerging state. She explained to us that her initial draw to the program was the hope that through her mentorship and interactions with other participants she might make some new friends and possible collaborators in the Guelph community.
The relationships that form from mentorships are arguably some of the most special and have the strongest impact. In fact, Nina told us that the most unexpected thing she took away from the program was a friendship with her mentor.
We asked Nina what advice she had for emerging artists thinking about applying for the GEAMP program. She urges emerging artists to not be afraid of trying new things for fear of failing because taking advantage of programs such as GEAMP usually result in taking away at least one meaningful thing even if it is just a “little boost.” She also stressed that the one-on-one guidance that you get from a relationship with a mentor is a very unique experience that has long lasting benefits.
All Guelph artists who are interested in participating in GEAMP are encouraged to apply online. Emerging visual artists, musicians, and cultural managers should complete this form, and experienced artists who wish to share their knowledge and be considered as mentors should complete this form. The Guelph Emerging Artist Mentorship Project is curated to ensure that there will be meaningful interactions between each matched pair. To the best of our ability, mentees and mentors will be carefully selected and paired together based on common interests, goals, experiences, as well as commonalities in artistic practices and endeavors.