Hello! Goodbye! Dance Party July 6

Join us in celebration and dance to say goodbye! to UNIT/PITT’s outgoing ED Kay Higgins and hello! to our new ED Brit Bachmann! We’re gonna raise $$ to help pay for health care benefits, and also dance our asses off to the selections of DJ Because I Said So. Cash beverages, nice people, good vibes.

Sat, July 6, 2019. 9pm to 2am.

$5-15 sliding scale, no one turned away.

Volunteers needed! Email [email protected]

 

Beginning her tenure in 2010, Kay Higgins has led notable projects such as UNIT/PITT Radio, the 2055 Project for UNIT/PITT’s 40 Year Anniversary, the return of Wrong Wave Festival and ISSUE Magazine, the Art  & Community Reading Group series, the #tearitdown2018 poster project, and more recently the relocation of UNIT/PITT to 8EAST in 2018.

In May we welcomed multi-disciplinary artist, writer and former Editor-in-Chief of Discorder Magazine Brit Bachmann, whose practice includes ceramics, radio art and community organizing. Brit is committed to instigating critical public dialogue, and working with diverse and emerging artists and writers to continue UNIT/PITT’s trajectory for many years to come! 

Hello! Goodbye! also marks UNIT/PITT’S one-year anniversary at 8EAST with NOW Society. Hello! Goodbye! will raise funds towards health care benefits which UNIT/PITT’s Board of Directors have identified as an ongoing priority for the well-being of UNIT/PITT’s staff, and to ensure equitable and sustainable growth and higher working standards within the organization and more broadly, within the non-profit arts sector. 

 

Land Acknowledgement

UNIT/PITT is grateful for opportunities to host events and artist projects, though we respectfully acknowledge that our activities take place on the traditional, unceded and stolen lands of the the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlil̓wətaʔɬ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations.

Accessibility

UNIT/PITT is located at 8 East Pender Street in Chinatown, Vancouver. It is on ground-level, no stairs. Our main door measures 34 inches and swings inward. The bathroom is not wheelchair accessible. There will be seating available. Please contact [email protected] to make arrangements to accommodate your needs.

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2010-2019

Public procession from Rereading the Riot Act, a series curated by Anakana Schofield for UNIT/PITT in 2011.

This is almost certainly my last post on the Pitt site. I was the one responsible for the day-to-day affairs of the Pitt starting in early 2010, after some sudden cuts in provincial arts funding, when we were presumed dead by many in our community. Following the shutdown of the Helen Pitt Gallery’s Alexander Street location in late 2009, a dedicated board of directors kept the organization alive, and I was hired in February 2010 to take care of “administration, maybe two days a week” as it was explained to me.

What this gave me was a chance to envision a relaunch of the Pitt, not starting with a blank slate obviously because there was (at that time) 35 years of history behind every move the organization made, but a re-imagining that drew on the parts of its history that seemed to be needed in the moment where we found ourselves.

If you’re expecting me to write an accounting of the things that followed, my apologies. Anyone who would like to see a list of the exhibitions, publication launches, talks, and public actions that happened while I was here can consult our Past Events page, which is reasonably complete. I’m not going to count the number of guest curators, artists, poets, first solo exhibitions and projects, and everything else. (I think it’s a reasonably high number, but really, I’m not counting. It seemed like a lot.)

Here’s what I want to talk about instead: what are our obligations as artists and cultural workers in an era of increasing inequality, environmental collapse, and rising fascism internationally?

No, it’s not an easy question. I don’t have the answers, but it is important that we carry on this discussion, which is already in progress in places, as a group — as maybe, a collective of collectives — and keep trying new strategies and tactics and reflecting on ones we have already tried.

We are trained in art school, and by received ideas about genius, to regard ourselves as being involved in solitary labour, waiting for a big opportunity that will enable us to vault to the next tier of the art world where our individual virtue will be recognized. In other words, almost all of us are being set up for failure and also being set up to consider that failure our own.

This is not what I believe. I believe, based on everything I have seen in my past decades of being involved with the creation of art and music and poetry, that culture is something that we produce collectively. For every exalted genius, there are dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of artists and cultural workers doing the work that enables them to occupy the top of the status pyramid.

One thing we often fail to realize is that the collective structures of art production contain untapped power. If we could refocus even part of the energy we currently spend on maintaining the system that creates individual (usually male) genius as its apex product, and devote it to some of the truly awful problems facing us, wouldn’t that be a good thing? This is part of the promise of artist-run culture, a promise that remains unfulfilled whenever artist-run culture serves as a feeder system and free curatorial research resource for the “legitimate” world of public art galleries and international art dealers, and whenever artist-run culture insists on mimicking stale administrative and corporate structures.

I believe that the most important potential of artist-run culture for affecting the world around us is collective potential. Whether we can learn to work more effectively together, respecting above all the diversity of our community and the wrongs that need to be redressed, is an open question. Best of luck, plus love and respect, to new Executive Director Brit Bachmann, and the board of directors, in working with this question.

Bye for now.

Kay

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Announcing Brit Bachmann as Executive Director of UNIT/PITT

“There are few organizations on the West Coast as radical and calculatedly unpredictable as UNIT/PITT Projects, thanks to Kay’s leadership. I am excited to build on UNIT/PITT’s legacy with programming and community initiatives that interrogate the very structure and purpose of artist-run centres, and serve to support emerging artists and organizers.”
– Brit Bachmann, incoming Director of UNIT/PITT Projects

UNIT/PITT Projects’ Board of Directors is excited to announce Brit Bachmann as the organization’s new Executive Director. Bachmann is a multi-disciplinary artist and writer whose practice includes ceramics, playwriting, radio art and community organizing with a history of reinvigorating arts organizations, instigating critical public dialogue and working with diverse and emerging artists and writers. Bachmann is the outgoing Communications Coordinator for Capture Photography Festival and the Communications and Marketing Assistant at The Cinematheque.

Bachmann is well known for her inimitable work as the Editor-in-Chief at Discorder Magazine (CiTR 101.9FM) from 2015-2018 where she led a critical rebrand of the magazine, shifting its focus from music to community activism, social justice, creative writing and visual art. She prioritized Indigenous, queer, POC and women’s voices and highlighted issues around harm reduction, sexual assault, racism, accountability, labour, and housing.

In keeping with UNIT/PITT Projects’ ethos of “unruly criticality”, Bachmann will also bring her experience as a researcher on gentrification in Vancouver and the Downtown Eastside with W.W.A.S., and as a co-organizer of Bite The Hand That Feeds, a forum on art and developer money held at 221A in 2018.

Bachmann’s induction to UNIT/PITT Projects marks the end of Kay Higgins’ time as Executive Director, a position that she has held since 2010. The board is especially indebted to Higgins’ tireless work in establishing UNIT/PITT Projects as Vancouver’s leading space for radical critical discourse. Her dedicated leadership, community presence, and relentless support for emergent practices through experimental programming and rigorous publishing initiatives stand as a legacy the board wishes to recognize.

Notable projects initiated by Higgins during her tenure include UNIT/PITT Radio, the 2055 Project for UNIT/PITT’s 40 Year Anniversary, the return of Wrong Wave Festival and ISSUE Magazine, the Art  & Community Reading Group series, the Ill Repute and What Future series of commissioned works, the #tearitdown2018 poster project, and more recently the relocation of UNIT/PITT Projects to 8EAST in 2018. Bachmann’s directorship coincides with the first year of UNIT/PITT Projects’ shift to a new non-exhibition model of programming.

“I was extremely fortunate to have the support of UNIT/PITT’s board, membership, and community during my tenure as director, and of all of the artists, curators, and volunteers who agreed on the need for spaces and organizations that do something other than reproduce stale administrative models and timid culture. I’m very pleased that Brit Bachmann is now there for the Pitt’s next round of risks, transformations, challenges, and successes.”
– Kay Higgins, outgoing Director of UNIT/PITT Projects

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Call for applications: Executive Director

UPDATED: APPLICATION DEADLINE IS NOW APRIL 5, 2019

UNIT/PITT Projects is a non-profit artist run centre dedicated to the promotion of experimental contemporary art that addresses social, political, cultural and critical issues.

Founded by art students in 1975 as the Helen Pitt Gallery, the Pitt has provided crucial early-career support for hundreds of Vancouver artists, as well as presenting music, dance, and film. Since our re-launch in 2011 as UNIT/PITT Projects, the Pitt’s programme of exhibitions has been augmented by adventurous programming that did not require the four walls of a conventional gallery, including broadcasting, public processions, publishing, street posters, lectures, screenings, festivals of art bands, and performance. Building on the success of our non-gallery programming, in 2018 UNIT/PITT relocated to 8 East Pender Street and shifted its focus to supporting and presenting innovative projects by new artists, directly reaching a wider public outside of the gallery system.

URL: unitpitt.ca

General Description
The Executive Director (ED) supports the organization’s mandate and public position, and shares responsibility for the overall mission and vision with the Board of Directors. The ED also runs and maintains the shared physical space at 8 East Pender and the gallery’s relationships with donors, foundations, members, artists, patrons, stakeholders, and the general public. The ED will ensure that the core values of UNIT/PITT Projects are honoured and expressed in all of its operations: fair treatment of artists and cultural workers; support for emerging artists and emerging practices; active opposition to all forms and expressions of bigotry, oppression, and inequity; and valuing the fusion between visual art, music, dance, literature, DIY culture, critical theory and social activism.

The ED is not afraid to take risks, and has a dedication to radical critical inquiry, queer inclusiveness, gender and class consciousness, Indigenization, and racial equality. The ED should be highly motivated to pursue fundraising and grant applications, and should have extensive familiarity with local art communities. The ED is responsible for developing key connections to determine, develop,and coordinate the annual programming of UNIT/PITT Projects.

The ED is also responsible for managing all day-to-day operations, and establishing the curatorial direction and strategic planning of the organization. The ED reports monthly to the Board of Directors, providing them with budget tracking and updates on personnel, programming, and administration. The ED will be the sole staff member employed at UNIT/PITT Projects at the time of hire.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Strategic planning
  • Curatorial research
  • Working with artists and curators for the development and presentation of new projects within the presentation space at 8 EAST and beyond the physical facility
  • Financial management including budget planning and tracking, and liaising with accountant
  • Fundraising duties, including writing grant applications and reports, and donation appeals
  • Hiring and supervising the work of interns, co-op students and volunteers when applicable
  • Managing contractors, suppliers and service providers
  • Building UNIT/PITT Projects’ community reputation via networking, development and community engagement
  • Attending Board of Director meetings to provide programming and budget updates Stocking and operating the storefront and office as required

Additional Duties
May be delegated to short term staff and volunteers if resources permit.

  • Planning and hosting events
  • Communications: publicity, advertising, basic graphic design, social media, website maintenance and mailing list updates
  • Other duties as required

Qualifications

  • Exceptional communication and coordination skills
  • Proven ability to write and report on grants, manage finances and work within budgets
  • Proven ability to solicit individual donations
  • Proven success with art programming
  • Proven experience in project management and meeting deadlines
  • Detail oriented and organized
  • Public speaking and interpersonal skills
  • Critically relevant curatorial experience with knowledge of diverse communities
  • Excellent understanding of artist-run centres and non-profit policies and requirements
  • Analysis of and experience in working within social justice frameworks
  • Experience in public relations, media relations, communications and community outreach, is an asset
  • A post-secondary education in an arts related field is an asset
  • Ability to work independently
  • Ability to work flexible hours

Position Details
Position: Executive Director
Location: UNIT/PITT Projects at 8 East Pender St.
Term: Full-time, permanent 32 hours/week. Evening and weekend work as needed. Flexible schedule.
Compensation: $40,000 annual salary, 3 weeks paid vacation.
Start Date: May 1st, or as soon as position is filled
Application Deadline: Applications will be accepted until the end of the day on April 5th, 2019.

To Apply
Please forward your application as a PDF to [email protected] including:

  • Cover letter outlining your interest in this position and relevant experience
  • C.V.

Those shortlisted for an interview will be asked to share their vision for the first 6 months of programming, a writing sample, and references.

This position is subject to a six month probationary period.

UNIT/PITT Projects welcomes and encourages applications from members of under-represented groups and communities in the arts. UNIT/PITT Projects is located on unceded Coast Salish territory, including the lands belonging to the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ/Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

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What Next?

It’s the last day of the year, and charities are sending you last-minute appeals for donations. If you would like to donate, we definitely encourage that! (And if you can’t spare a big amount, please consider a small monthly donation, which is easy to set up — we love those!) But the purpose of this post is actually a little bit different.

#tearitdown2018 “didactic panel by Unit/Pitt

In 2018, the Pitt began another transformation, from a gallery-as-platform to a platform that no longer needs a gallery.

We did this because the world around us demands more interventions by artists, and contemporary culture that can be found outside of the familiar tropes of exhibitions. Contemporary art is possibly not for everyone — it’s difficult, founded on philosophy and history that is unfamiliar to many people, and on the experimental edges it may not even be recognizable as art sometimes.

But contemporary art, and new culture in general, is needed, and artists need room to develop ideas and ways of working in order to make art. If we want to provide this room, we need to stop treating artists as independent contractors who deliver a fully-realized exhibition or project and then disappear back into the studio. And if we think that contemporary art is needed, we have to provide meaningful access to it. The passive model of putting work on the walls, opening the gallery doors, and waiting for people to arrive is inadequate for giving people meaningful access to contemporary culture.

So we’re moving beyond that. We have given a hint of what the future looks like this year, with projects like Non-Regular, the latest iteration of Wrong Wave, and #tearitdown2018, and the opening of the 8EAST social space. We’re moving out of the gallery, and reaching a larger public in new ways; we’re promoting critical awareness of social problems in a way that we hope has tangible outcomes; and we’re still UNIT/PITT, irreverent and full of surprises.

Please follow us in 2019 and see what else we have in store. One more thing: I have been director of the Pitt since 2010, and have taken it through a revival and two transformations so far, but my time is drawing to a close. We’ll be announcing a new director in early spring if everything goes well.

Thanks for your support. We hope we see you, and you see us, in 2019!

Kay Higgins, Executive Director

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