Priscille Bukasa

Priscille Bukasa

A spoken word artist finds community as a Cultural Instigator

Cherie McMaster

Sometimes following your creative path opens up new and unexpected opportunities. Such is the case for Priscille Bukasa — a spoken word artist and writer who started her career in marketing and social media management. Now working as a teaching artist and an arts facilitator, Bukasa is also a member of the Cultural Instigators and was a recent facilitator at Calgary Arts Development’s 2023 Living a Creative Life Congress focusing on Art for Social Change. However, it all began with her discovery of poetry in junior high school.

“I really enjoyed just writing. And it was mostly for myself… It wasn’t until later on, at the near the end of high school, (that I) started sharing my poetry with other people, with my teachers,” she says. “My sister really introduced me to spoken word poetry, and that was through… (a recording of) Def Poetry Jam… and I just sat there and started consuming all this poetry and all this spoken word. So from there I just started performing.”

From churches to Black History Month events and open mic nights, Bukasa began making connections in the art community. Finally in 2021, Bukasa made the switch to become a full-time artist, giving up the stability of a regular 9-to-5 job to focus on her art and a new endeavour: art for social change.

“The trade off (is) just waking up and being able to do what I love and being immersed with a community and people who are so inspiring,” she says. “The Culture Instigators that were doing the work really shifted my thought and I’m like, this is where I want to be and this is where I want to continue working.

“You say, ‘I’m an artist’ (and people) either shake their head or they’re genuinely curious. It doesn’t really matter what people think because I have so much joy doing this.”

Bukasa sees her work as an opportunity to address difficult issues and make an impact on community through art. “I just think that sometimes it is hard to have conversations about difficult topics in just a general way of like, hey… what do you think about racism? What do you think about that? You can’t just bring it up to people. So doing it through the arts is a way to welcome people in, to allow people to feel like it’s a safe space and now ask questions about it.

“And so that is what Art for Social Change means to me.”

Tune into this week’s Storytelling Podcast to hear more about Priscille Bukasa’s spoken word poetry and her work striving to make change through art.

About The Storytelling Podcast

Sharing diverse stories of creativity in our city, The Storytelling Podcast shines a spotlight on artists and projects that connect Calgarians to the arts. Part of The Storytelling Project, this series raises awareness about Calgarians who, by living creative lives, are making Calgary a better city, affecting positive change and enriching others’ lives.

Have a story to share? Email us at submissions@calgaryartsdevelopment.com.

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