Fogo Island Arts (FIA) is a residency-based contemporary art and ideas organization that supports research, production and exchange for artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians, curators, designers and thinkers from around the world.
Since 2008, FIA has brought exciting emerging and renowned artists of today to Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada to take part in residencies and to present solo exhibitions at the Fogo Island Gallery. FIA also produces publications and presents programs on the island and in cities across Canada and abroad, including the Fogo Island Dialogues interdisciplinary conversation series, as part of its international outreach. Combining contemporary art, iconic architecture and social innovation in a singular setting, FIA is a world-class organization that is uniquely rooted in community.
FIA builds on the resourcefulness and creativity of Fogo Islanders, whose lived experiences provide a vital framework for the organization’s activities. By facilitating collaborations and connections between a local and international network of practitioners and thinkers, FIA aims to provide relevant insights on questions of human relationships with place, nature, financial capital, and one another.
Crucial to FIA’s mission is the conviction that art and artists have the capacity to instigate social change and offer new perspectives on issues of contemporary concern. Fogo Island itself is society on a small scale, where all the challenges of our digitally mediated connections, our fraught relationships to the natural world, our integration within global economic, social and political currents are present in condensed form. Equally at play are the shared culture and profound connections of a close-knit community, a thread of relationships developed in tandem with a specific place. As such, Fogo Island is a significant location to test ideas and practices through FIA’s creative opportunities and research inquiries.
With an international outlook and motivation to tackle global and local concerns, FIA is a unique organization that champions the work of artists and the development of contemporary ideas that engage with diverse social and political concerns of our time.
FIA is a charitable program of Shorefast, a registered Canadian charity with the mission to build economic and cultural resilience on Fogo Island and to serve community well-being by building and sharing new models of economic development that are based upon the inherent cultural and physical assets of a place.
Fogo Island Arts was conceived as a continuation of Fogo Island’s deep-rooted relationship with art that emerged through the National Film Board of Canada’s (NFB) Challenge for Change program of the 1960s and 70s. A participatory project that used film as an instigator of social change, Challenge for Change led to the hugely influential Fogo Process films, which documented Fogo Islanders’ way of life and shared concerns, empowering communities to act together to determine their future.
Building on this legacy, FIA was established in 2008 as one of Shorefast’s founding projects. It forms part of a holistic set of charitable programs and social businesses that aim to build economic and cultural resilience on Fogo Island.
Fogo Island is an outport community: a small, remote coastal settlement unique to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Fogo Islanders are people of the sea who have made their living by fishing the frigid and often unforgiving waters of the North Atlantic.
A non-capital-accumulating society until the latter decades of the 20th century, Fogo Islanders sustained themselves for generations by fishing as families and relying on an unrelenting sense of resourcefulness fed by a profound love of place. This history of relative isolation and self-sufficiency has shaped Fogo Islanders and the Fogo Island of today, and continues to inform the island’s economy and culture.
While Fogo Island is a settler community, its territory is part of the ancestral homelands of the Beothuk, and the island of Newfoundland is the ancestral homeland of the Mi’kmaq and Beothuk. FIA also recognizes the Inuit of Nunatsiavut and NunatuKavut and the Innu of Nitassinan, and their ancestors, as the original people of Labrador.
FIA pledges to reflect a diversity of identities and perspectives in our programming, including international residencies, exhibitions, public programs and other initiatives. We commit to continually examine structures of power and decision-making within and beyond our organization with an aim to actively embody the values of inclusivity, equity and accessibility in everything we do.
We welcome conversations regarding how FIA can champion a wide range of practices, ideas and identities.