Local to Global: Making It Outside The 6ix - Nia Centre for the Arts

Local to Global: Making It Outside The 6ix

By Alica Hall, p
Posted on June 15, 2019

Sara Elgamal, an international filmmaker and Kazeem Kuteyi - a cultural curator and co-founder of New Currency sat down with us and shared how they went from being Toronto-based creatives to working with artists and brands in the US and Europe. 

The international landscape can be a frightening thought, especially when venturing off outside your comfort platform. But all the world’s a stage, and making it outside the 6ix can be a smooth transition when and if you are prepared.

Despite working in different disciplines, Kazeem and Sara have similar approaches to building relationships with creatives in other cities. They both stressed the importance of doing research to find like-minded people and building meaningful relationships - with no expectations of working together. A lot of times, these connections evolve into working relationships. Sara moved to London, England, which allowed her to expand her network and produce branded content and produce amazing videos for artists like Sampha.

Kazeem has produced events and parties in London, Paris and Berlin. He is a big fan of travelling to cities to do research - learning about the people, places and brands that are contributing to the community he would like to work with. His motto 'Buy flights, not Jordans' - is a mantra to live by if you want to take your art to the international stage. 

Whether you are an entrepreneur, an early or mid-career artist, the opportunities of connecting with like-minded individuals or organizations that crave for something new, are endless. It requires you to have the passion and the drive to not only expand your platform but to also ask yourself: how far are you willing to go?

When you’re thinking about going international, weigh out your reasons and ask yourself, what scares you the most: going or staying?


The following key points are steps to consider when weighing out your options of going from local to global.


Have practical goals:

  • How does your art/work stand out from the crowd?
  • Find out what is required when travelling to a certain area
  • Find out how much you should save for the duration of your stay
  • Connect with agencies to help you secure part-time work
  • Discover the similarities you share with the organization you want to connect with
  • Find out if there is someone you know in the specific area you plan to travel to that can help you get started
  • Be ready to offer something in return. The journey is brighter when both parties return the favour 
  • Be willing to invest in yourself and take risks


Be Where You Need To Be: 

  • Travel to cities that expose the particulars of your interests. If you are a painter, research cities that showcase art exhibits
  • If you want to collaborate with a particular artist, find events that they host or are featured in to make solid connections.  


Be Realistic

  • Be realistic about your work level and follow your own pace. Opportunities will only be lost if you lack effort
  • Hard work is key to being recognized 
  • Continue to create and strengthen a portfolio that demonstrates the style and manner of your ideal client/collaborators 


Five tips on building international connections:

  1. Be willing to invest in yourself and take risks.
  2. Be realistic about your work level - make sure you are prepared to take on new projects and collaborations; opportunities are more likely to get lost if you lack effort. 
  3. Create a portfolio that demonstrates the style and manner of your ideal client/collaborators. 
  4. Build reciprocal relationships with like-minded creatives, always bring something to the table!
  5. Do your research: there are residencies, grants and government programs that can help you move or work internationally. Save your pennies and make sure you have enough resources to live for a few months.


When you align yourself with organizations and collaborators who have similar values it can change the course of your career!


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