CENSURED IN CANADA was originally launched in 2014 to create a space for Canadian-based artists & works marginalized and rejected by Canadian festivals and institutions – whether it was due to a lack of the “right” credentials / connections; or the work challenges aesthetic / cultural / social norms of Canada. The seeds of the festival began in 2013, when art-ivist Stephen Chen (aka Dissonance Productions) set out on a year long quest to explore opportunities for independent work free of cliquish / commercial / institutional / funding pressures. Yet despite being productive and successful internationally at doing so, he found his work constantly rejected by Canadian festivals and organizations.
I realized there were many like me; artists ineligible for funding, artists with unique or contrarian voices, artists without the right credentials, artists without the right connections, artists struggling to create and to be heard. In short, the “rejects” from Canadian festivals and institutions. Having lived in exile for over 10 years from a country sans democratic expression, I find the disconnect between the openness / diversity / multiculturalism that Canada promises and the lack in its cultural forms and institutions rather galling. I had to do something about it. – Stephen Chen