Swallow-a-Bicycle’s Draft Guiding Principles

Update: January 2018

After two years of work with New Pathways for the Arts, Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre has adopted a new Art Manifesto as of January 2018:

Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre creates productive discomfort. We engage with power structures, shining an interrogation light in society’s eyes.

We endanger the eardrums of the status quo by amplifying the voices of outcasts, misfits, diverse communities and artists who face barriers.

Art is how we do this. Art is awesome, and fun to make.

We hold ourselves accountable for the discomfort we create, to the communities we encounter, and to ethical working practices.

We learn and mutate as we engage with different sites, communities and artistic practices.

We don’t just swallow bicycles. We swallow complacency, conventions, problematic issues and sometimes cookies.

See below for some more background on how the Art Manifesto was developed, and for a previous draft!


Original post:

Swallow-a-Bicycle is participating in New Pathways for the Arts, a program for arts and culture organizations in Calgary. The program is supported by Calgary Arts Development and designed and delivered by EmcArts. The program helps organizations like ours strengthen our capacity to adapt in response to the uncertain and increasingly complex challenges facing the nonprofit cultural sector right now.

In the current phase of New Pathways – Incubating Innovation – we have questioned assumptions about how we operate, and have developed a draft of new guiding principles for the organization.

The draft principles are as follows:

Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre fearlessly engages with power structures and the status quo. We absorb, interrogate, reflect and defy the patterns of dominant culture. We create productive discomfort, ask provocative questions and hold a mirror up to society. We prioritize the ‘now’ – urgent issues that need agitation.

Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre amplifies the voices of outcasts, misfits, diverse communities and artists who face barriers. We hold ourselves accountable for the discomfort we create; to the communities we encounter; to ethical working practices; and to curiosity and learning.

We flexibly learn about and engage with different sites and artistic practices. Art is the necessary membrane through which all of the above is achieved.

We are in the midst of testing and revising these principles, and we expect to have a finalized version ready to share in Fall 2017!

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