Her work has been seen across Canada within companies such as Banff Centre, Canadian Opera Company, The Confederation Centre of the Arts, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Theatre New Brunswick, Against the Grain Theatre, Ghost River Theatre, Obsidian Theatre, Workshop West Playwright Theatre, Odyssey Theatre, Native Earth and Cahoots Theatre, among others. As a designer and design educator, Snezana collaborated with the University of Alberta, Dalhousie University, Keyano Collage, George Brown Theatre School, Banff Centre and Glenn Gould School. Currently, she is Professor of Design at the University of Toronto. Pesic is recipient of Betty Mitchell Award for outstanding lighting design and production, Prix Rideau Award nominee for outstanding set and costume design and was shortlisted for the Pauline McGibbon Award for emerging theatre artist (Ontario). She is a graduate of the MFA program in Theatre Design at the University of Alberta and the BFA /MFA programs in Costume Design at the University of Belgrade, Serbia. With her work, she participated in numerous international exhibitions, including Prague Quadrennial (2007, 2011 and 2015), and World Stage Design in (2009 and 2013). Snezana designed and curated the Canadian National Exhibition, Individuality and Interconnection, at the Prague Quadrennial 2019. Under her leadership the Canadian National Exhibition was honoured with a prestigious international award (Prague Quadrennial 2019 Award for Excellence in Performance Design), recognizing the work of exhibiting designer Michael Levine. Snezana is a member of Associated Designers of Canada (ADC).
Abstract name: BEYOND ARTISTIC PRACTICE: CANADIAN SCENOGRAPHERS IN TIMES OF COVID-19
My paper explores a dramatic shift in the position of Canadian scenographers during the COVID-19 pandemic and analyses the most recent changes within the Associated Designers of Canada (ADC), a national organisation that represents 65-70% of Canada’s designers. The paper is predominantly focused on the emergence of mutual support among designers under our current pressures, as well as on socio-political changes and the structural reorganisation of the association. My observations were generated through my work as a designer and educator at the University of Toronto, as an active member of ADC, and as Curator of the Canadian National Exhibition at PQ2019. In response to COVID-19, Canadian theatre companies cancelled their 2020/21 seasons, officially closing their doors until fall 2021. Scenic designers immediately lost 18 months of work without any certainty for the future. Design practice and creative process almost entirely disappeared, except for occasional, limited excursions into digital media. In these novel circumstances, a new solidarity is emerging within the design community, cultivating a sense of mutual support throughout ADC regardless of their membership status. The use of online platforms has allowed designers to gather and communicate regardless of their location. Through frequent meetings, the future of our profession is being discussed in tandem with the position of scenographers in the larger theatre landscape. During this moment of hardship, a fundraiser was organised among the ADC membership to monetarily assist colleagues in need. The Association organized bi-weekly workshops that functioned as social events and wellness check-ups, allowing scenographers across the country to get to know each other better. In the socio-political context, our most recent events addressed systemic racism in the US and Canada and the latest, robust incarnation of the Black Live Matters movement. The ADC is now seeking to undertake concrete steps to create a safe and welcoming space within the design community for all Canadian BIPOC designers. The ADC is also considering options for supporting, mentoring, and educating young designers from less privileged backgrounds. As a curator of the Canadian National Exhibit at PQ2019, my exhibition concept addressed the necessity for diversity in Canadian design. These recent actions show a new level of determination from the organisation to open up to non-white scenographers. On a structural level, my paper will take a hard look at our fraught future exacerbated by a general feeling of neglect by both government institutions and theatre companies. The ADC membership voted to take a major step towards institutional change by starting negotiations to join the International Association of Theatre Stage Employees (IATSE), a much larger, more empowered organisation. The union of ADC and IATSE would be the most radical innovation in the history of the organisation, that may have significant impact on the designer’s position in Canadian theatre.