National AI Programming for Artists and Cultural Workers: Community Consultation Data (GTA)

National AI Programming for Artists and Cultural Workers: Community Consultation Data (GTA)

UKAI Projects will be offering national programming on artificial intelligence for artists and cultural workers through the support of the Canada Council for the Arts in 2024. We will be offering a residency for artists in Montreal in August and one for cultural workers in Calgary/Banff in September 2024. We will also be delivering workshops, exhibitions (and parties) in Vancouver, Whitehorse, Halifax, and Toronto. There will be online workshops and talks as well. There will be a national gathering in October which we can’t wait to share more about.

It’s an ambitious project and we are working with Caroline Sinders and others to bring the programming to light. Caroline Sinders is a critical designer and artist who works at the intersection of technology, art, and research, focusing primarily on the impact and implications of artificial intelligence (AI) on society. Her work is known for exploring the intersections of machine learning, human rights, data, and politics, often through the lens of design and user research. Sinders' projects typically investigate how online harassment, algorithms, and social media platforms impact public and private life, aiming to identify and mitigate negative outcomes of technology deployment.

The essence of the programming revolves around acknowledging the substantial impact that artificial intelligence is poised to have on our technical, economic, cultural, and social lives. Recognizing the vulnerabilities and opportunities that the cultural sector faces in light of advancements in generative AI tools, UKAI is leveraging our past work and expertise to deliver an intensive suite of programming, which will unfold across the country, featuring both in-person and online workshops, residencies, intensive training sessions for administrators, and a national gathering for the field.

UKAI has been deeply immersed in AI since 2018 and are excited to bring some of these lessons to artists across Canada.

In service to this work, we hosted an in-person gathering on January 23, 2024 at our Adelaide and Spadina location to begin to ask artists, creators, neighbours, and cultural workers what they thought about the changes brought about by artificial intelligence.


The data collected from the event provides insights into the concerns, opportunities, and ethical considerations artists have regarding AI integration into their practices, at least in the Greater Toronto Area. The findings reveal a nuanced landscape where AI's benefits are closely intertwined with ethical dilemmas and financial uncertainties.

Key Findings:

  • Financial Redistribution Concerns: Artists are keenly interested in how profits will be redistributed in the AI-driven future. Questions about ownership, contribution to AI outputs, and ensuring fair compensation indicate a critical concern about the economic models that will emerge.
  • Beneficiaries and Sufferers: There's a clear dichotomy in who benefits and who suffers from AI's growth in creative fields. Surprisingly, middle-class creators and artists leveraging their skills outside their practice appear in both categories, suggesting a complex interplay of benefit and risk.
  • AI as a Collaborative Team Member: The idea of AI not just as a tool but as a team member suggests a desire for a deeper integration of AI into creative processes. This includes a unique blend of optimism and caution towards AI’s role in creative outputs and ethical boundaries.
  • Ethical Complexity: Ethical concerns span a wide range, from the theft of original content and fairness to existential questions about AI's role in society. Many worry about AI replacing sensitive jobs, like therapists, highlighting deep unease about AI's potential to supplant deeply human roles.
  • Creative Practice Expansion: AI is seen as a gateway to expanding creative outputs, automating tedious processes, and providing new tools for exploration. This suggests artists are ready to embrace AI for efficiency but are also eager for it to open new creative avenues previously inaccessible.

Implications for Programming Design:

This will evolve over time, as more regions and practices are consulted.

  • Address Financial and Ethical Education: Offer workshops that demystify AI’s economic models, intellectual property rights, and ethical use. This should include how artists can monetarily benefit and safeguard their work against exploitation.
  • Facilitate Ethical Dialogues: Create spaces for discussing the moral implications of AI in art, focusing on consent, bias, and equitable technology access. Programming may include ethical AI design workshops.
  • Expand Technical Skills: Provide upskilling opportunities in AI tools and platforms, focusing on both their creative application and understanding their underlying mechanisms, biases, and data ethics.
  • Foster Community and Advocacy: Encourage the formation of artist communities around AI to share knowledge, advocate for fair practices, and collectively navigate the AI landscape in arts.
  • Highlight Human-AI Collaboration: Showcase examples of successful AI integration into artistic practices that emphasize collaboration over replacement, illustrating AI’s role in enhancing creativity rather than diminishing the artist's role.


The data points to a creative community at a crossroads with AI, poised to explore its potential while deeply concerned about the ethical, financial, and societal ramifications. Future programming must balance these aspects, empowering artists with knowledge, skills, and a collective voice to shape an AI-integrated future that respects artistic integrity and fosters innovation.

Full Notes - Data Collected

SECTION 1 - Money

What questions do you have about AI and the financial side of your practice?

  • Socio-economically beneficial if you use it for your own purposes wisely? 
  • How can I find out what parts of my data to leverage? 
  • How can I use AI to leverage my skills? 
  • What happens when our financial source realizes you are the middle person?
  • Transparency: balance data and overwhelming with data. 
  • How profit will be redistributed? 
  • AI as open sourcing model
  • Percentage of artists' influence and contribution to output. 
  • What is the purpose of AI? 
  • How has it created new income streams? 
  • What opportunities are there to solve problems? 
  • What is the purpose and value (of AI)? 
  • What sort of skills are needed? 
  • How do we stay up to date? 
  • Will adequate compensation be given to artists who contribute to training data/provenance models?

Who is going to benefit financially? Who is going to suffer with the growth of AI in creative fields


  • Whoever is open to learning how or which tools to add to your toolbox. 
  • The people who know what AI is best for and use it wisely. 
  • People can be motivated through intrinsic rewards and community. 
  • Time equals money. AI can give you time. 
  • I would be interested to see a world with universal base income, AI/machine/automation doing much of the work, and we get to play, indulge, relax, live, connect with each other, in person and face-to-face. 
  • AI communities stealing art from artists. 
  • People/communities who learn to use AI for their practices. 
  • Build on AI, collaborate as you go. 
  • Middle-class creators
  • Artists leveraging their skills outside of their personal practice
  • The owners of the AI/code


  • People having less leverage will suffer most. 
  • Licensing - auto-generated graphics, stickers, fonts, but not for art's sake. 
  • Contractors, freelancers, majority, no unions, worker protections 
  • Graphic designers. Graphics, fonts, photoshop, non-unitized industries, freelance and dominated industries. 
  • Grant writers. 
  • How will the profits be distributed? 
  • Business models which rely on compromised digital security. 
  • Incumbent first mover. 
  • AI will get trained on AI generations and get worse 
  • Freelancers illustrators designers artists without unions will suffer
  • Middle-class creators
  • Artists leveraging their skills outside of their personal practice (both categories?

How might artists/creators need to reframe their work or their position to sustain themselves?

  • The difference between things that need to be made versus things you want to create. 
  • Art for art's sake versus art as a product.
  • Royalty system for artists, workers, and AI systems. 
  • Being on a team with the AI.
  • Not exhausted by creating everything.
  • Special touches by humans. 
  • Copyright issues - How much can you make with small edits? 
  • Universal Basic Income 
  • Royalties and percentage of influence, maybe exaggeration of style to extremes, more identifiable, plus licensable. Even now, hyper-pop conglomeration of many genres and stylistic conventions in intense snippets. 
  • Wholes not parts, human element, human empathy. 
  • Generative AI art companies restructuring the way they obtain the art the AI uses in their database. 
  • Payments for artists to sign up for an AI system. 
  • Creators of AI systems know where their data is coming from. They should be more transparent regarding that. 
  • Experiences versus consumption. 
  • Emphasize the humanity that underlines what they create
  • Using AI as a supplement to their practice. 
  • Royalties via provenance.

How could programming support the financial side of your practice as it relates to AI?

  • Brian Eno movie (unique each time)
  • Help with up-skilling, how to make the most of current AI tools or at least understand the whole AI ecosystem. 
  • How can AI leverage my skills? What skills do I need that can be leveraged? 
  • Keep yourself updated. 
  • Has to be made/want to create a burden. 
  • Reduce financial barriers/credits for some of these tools. 
  • Collaboration, being able to work with artists and inspire each other/build with each other. Usually very helpful in terms of creating more money when you're in it with others. 
  • Understanding metadata.

SECTION 2 - Data and Ethics

How do you feel when thinking about or working with AI?

  • Tool for people, anyone to use, accessibility - worried about barriers to access
  • Free dopamine 
  • Cranking out content as a writer
  • Individual versus individual versus institution. 
  • Excitement and skepticism, 
  • Empowered
  • Connected
  • Optimistic 
  • Under-informed - what it creates is based on biases in training data
  • Intrigued
  • Censorship in art. Should output be censored? Restrictive but deep fake issues create harmful content, etc. 
  • Ethics of creative chain. 
  • Too many people can use. Frustrating. 
  • Motivated. 
  • Tedious - needs lots of iteration 
  • Expensive 
  • Conversational as interesting user for ideation ultimate rubber duck 
  • New level of performance forces everyone to be better 
  • No stopping the interface intermediary 
  • Tension with privacy and knowledge. 
  • Wondering
  • Uninformed
  • Confused
  • Lost/overwhelmed how to integrate - as TA, own bias/judgement detecting. 
  • There's definitely a line not to cross in academic context - using AI is plagiarism. 
  • Editorial law is acceptable. AI is not part of the creation process, only correction/edit. 
  • Tools used for good and bad. 
  • Do we limit/censor the truth? 
  • When I think about AI, I am optimistic that it is a powerful tool for everyone once we have to pay for better AI models. Will there be an ethical issue in accessibility? 
  • Working with it, great at writing projects. Use it as an editor for image projects, visual, hard to get what I have in mind, often working around AI models. 
  • Replacement for profit of sensitive jobs. Therapist. 
  • A little lost about it, where is the line? Bias and assumptions of who can create what? Bringing social constructs into question.

What ethical concerns trouble you the most with AI?

  • Theft of original content, misunderstanding of fair use 
  • The potential lack of wisdom
  • Who owns the algorithm and who does it serve?
  • Singularity and humanity
  • AI simulators (dating, therapy)
  • Time goes into AI
  • AI creates sci-fi, moderation, what happens when people are pushed aside. 
  • Value system. What happens when it's prompted by generosity? 
  • Power of ideology. AI is becoming bigger than ourselves. 
  • We've given AI the keys to society, should it get agency. 
  • Limits of creative practice and censorship.
  • Just because you can create an image/a world, should you?
  • Consent and representation. 
  • Will all the research already done on the social/political implications of AI or shady histories of potentials be helpful given how fast things are moving? 
  • How are social contracts affected? 
  • More inequity for labour division x compensation. 
  • Data-sets, your most valuable non-material position might be your data. 
  • As groups of large data, we can judge the best ideas and changes. 
  • What values are driving the ideas? 
  • The ages of sentience/AGI/consciousness. 
  • Powerful, connected to internet, nose-packed programming. 
  • Max Tegmark advocates for AI safety and a pause on AI development. 
  • AI can be a collaborator or worse
  • People lose their ability to think for themselves. 
  • Energy use cost barriers.

How might artists shift the direction AI takes?

  • Advocacy through creation. 
  • Put soul in AI. 
  • By envisioning new ways of using it, the shift of direction goes down in terms of the types of outputs. 
  • Will shift legal regulation if they demand adequate compensation for art that was used for training. 
  • Nobody knows who sets the tone? 
  • What direction is it going in? 
  • Show its absurdities/limits fast. 
  • Make speculation to those who develop it. 
  • Drop potential trajectories. 
  • Show environmental/climate impacts. 
  • Unionizing. 
  • To write demand/edit language to articulate to certain regulatory bodies. 
  • As open-source collaborator, data sets compiling plus training with different designs. 
  • To write code/change AI itself even with no technical background. 
  • Artists will want to take things out of AI. AI designers will meet these demands most of the times. 
  • Music producers using AI to create data for them. Finding samples. Automatic remastering. Writing grants. 
  • Artists want to be creative. AI art will not replace the creative process

How could programming support you to understand and respond to the ethical issues attached to AI’s growth?

  • Programming morals and human values
  • Education on current copyright system and analysis thereof
  • What is a creation or original idea and is what AI creates that? 
  • Allowing/teaching artists how to use AI in their practice. 
  • By getting more comfortable in understanding how AI works, artists will inevitably be able to understand these ethical issues. 
  • Make the questions tangible and salient. 
  • Make the wider assemblage on AI more visible/articulate. Connect current AI to its history. 
  • How to integrate into your process. Workshops with interactive portions to practice. Stage events to meet other people working in AI or in similar practices.

SECTION 3 - Creative Practice

 Where might AI fit into your creative practice?

  • Expansion 
  • Education/automation
  • Computer vision, rapid prototyping, being able to create images that I don't have the skills to
  • Lover's barrier of entry for many fields
  • Automating the creation of music template in DAWS
  • Writing grants, writing contracts to IP, creating samples. 
  • Creative problem solving
  • Knowing the workings of AI, why are certain decisions made? 
  • Speculative features, modifying different parts and seeing outcomes
  • Different test interfaces 
  • AI as seen in healthcare, policing, art, writing, education
  • Mixing/mastering tracks, how much value, own time, sound engineering
  • Already existing plugin with machine learning
  • Social media X marketing posts
  • AI to translate idea functions
  • Automating mixing/mastering 
  • Automating template for creation 
  • Using AI for the parts of your practice you don't enjoy. 
  • Creation of sounds that can inspire your music, AI programs that produce sounds based on a certain genre, VFX sounds generation for different projects. We can build the sounds we want. 
  • Splitting tracks using AI. 
  • How can you solve the problem with AI? 
  • Business and community development plus UX for business, 
  • Writing about climate, 
  • Understanding dynamics of setups, events plus places. 
  • What kind of values in convo with the AR 
  • Ask AI to complete the story and seeing what elements of the story changes? 
  • How do AI agents imagine and shape the future? Feedback loop, something to think about
  • Biased answers of AI
  • How do you make the model interpretive? Ways to make AI more transparent
  • People to know why the AI made this decision
  • Interpretability varies based on practice.
  • Healthcare 
  • AI as a springboard for ideation, give predictions, functionality, and effectiveness with workflows. 
  • Automating template creation for DAWs, Photoshop etc.

 Where might AI allow you to take your practice?

  • Increased output, lyrics, themes, emotions, etc. 
  • Automating sampling/finding inspirations, not creating them
  • Free up attention for other steps in creative process, AI is collaborative labourer
  • What are our limits, drop automation, plus personal expression
  • Understanding AI data sets, open sourcing, 
  • Offloading some responsibilities, mixing, mastering, etc. 
  • Feed synchronized for DJs, collaboration, framing, and complete. 
  • Mastering/creation of parts. 
  • Simply, being able to curate the exact sound you want using AI 
  • Using AI to analyze content and produce trigger warnings. 
  • Lighting. Beat matching the songs, changing colour according to the song 
  • Using AI to busk. AI reads the song being played and determines colour plus movements based on the song's vibe - allows cover, etc. 
  • Need purpose and value 
  • I like it as a medium more than a tool. 
  • Use it to understand yourself. 
  • Learn from AI and feed it back to it
  • Maybe co-collaborate to make audio/visual work. 
  • The artists and the scientists are each seeking truth, using tools and technology, courage to venture into the unknown. AI can help us on our journey.

 What new creative directions might become possible?

  • Would love to do work like how Refik Anadol does. 
  • Scale, scope, iteration. 
  • AI generators being more diverse in their data sets
  • Busking but automated. 
  • AI generated art and personalized feeds. 
  • Collaborations. 
  • Rapid prototyping needs more creative output. 
  • Using ChatGPT to learn how to do technical stuff I previously wasn't able to do. 
  • Create music but not as a musician.

How could programming support you to integrate AI into your existing or potential creative practice?

  • Tool demos, use cases, installations, breakdowns, etc. 
  • Seeing what others are doing, how, and why.
  • Learn about how other artists use it/novel implementations. 
  • Learning about how to leverage own data sources for personalization. 
  • So many tools, how do I use? Who's making stuff? How can I talk to them? 
  • Investment/research. 
  • Want the AI to be an assistant 
  • How-to, intro to the ocean of tools
  • Provide space/tools to practice/play. 
  • Bring together people at various skill levels together for exploration of tools. More than one tool/mode at a time. 
  • Residency with workshops - time/space to create and share. 
  • Use AI as a collaborator, analyzing data and translating those data sets. Statistics. 
  • How to collect data
  • More tutorials on AI personalization, local AI implementation, personal AI sovereignty. 
  • As an artist, our role is to use tools in new, unexpected, and different ways. would be great to learn how exactly other creatives are using AI. 
  • How to make your own LLM and AI to use your own data sets. 
  • Demystify the magic of how does it work.

SECTION 4 - Administration

What aspects of your overall practice would benefit from automation?

  • Automating my calendar, figuring out tasks for you
  • Grants, contracts, legal jargon, emails
  • Personal editor, ask it to critique it and be harsh about it
  • Using AI for scheduling
  • A different style of writing
  • Writing for art, social media, self-marketing, setting up protection for partnerships
  • How do you let artists be their authentic selves without giving up privacy/marketing?
  • AI prioritizing “safe” music
  • Artists faking authenticity for more traffic
  • Automate a style of post
  • I use it as a personal editor to proofread and evaluate my work.
  • Written work like resume, project applications, often getting a new perspective, can help reduce word count and make work more concise
  • Grant writing for non-language focused artists, branding/marketing
  • AI agent, finding and promoting to audiences
  • Promotion of artists, tons of good art that is hard to get people out there to see it
  • TikTok bringing us some genres back, better algorithms 
  • Help to save time in order to be able to live and do things that without AI, we wouldn't be able to do

What advantages/disadvantages do small, decentralised creators have as compared to larger institutions?

  • AI scheduling, what kind of creative stuff you can do
  • Motion
  • Promo material, leverage AI to do basic stuff, chess pieces, generative content, advertisement, saturation of the spaces with generative content
  • Larger places affect small ones. Large teams are hard to pivot
  • You can't innovate if you're dealing with daily shit
  • Small teams take bigger risks to stand out
  • Saves time
  • Larger groups you have to teach people
  • Not tied to contract, freedom to do what you want
  • More agile, can adapt and pivot faster
  • Not tied to contracts
  • Can afford to take bigger risks
  • Out of industry
  • AI bubble
  • Not funded by a legal corporation. 
  • Less money
  • Reputation worries, and lawsuits for large orgs. 
  • Expensive
  • Out of the public eye

How might roles and duties evolve with greater integration of AI?

  • How to use the AI tool as opposed to the work itself. 
  • More disposable jobs disappearing. 
  • AI going over results of a task and report things that humans might miss. 
  • Roles turned to supervisors. Human factor is very important. 
  • AI needs to be more reassuring, slow, empathetic, 
  • Scared of going to a doctor, can go to AI
  • Customer service, most of customer service is replaced by AI. 
  • Others will eventually catch up to AI once we find all its possible use cases.
  • AI generated images, good for digital audiences waiting to push moments of visual art.
  • Downside due to faking certain things: fake images of people, events
  • Medically trained AI: speed up evaluating scans results allow more time with healthcare professionals 
  • Some things need to be slowed down 
  • The human touch/empathy side

How could programming support you to reduce aspects of your practice that are less fulfilling and give more time for work that you find rewarding?

  • Aid in building systems to handle various administrative tasks. 
  • Understanding what admin is and what it's for, how it scales, when to outsource. 
  • Emails. 
  • AI to write emails so you can focus on other things. Writing a proposal for you. 
  • AI to do outline for essays for homework. 
  • AI in lighting, programming, and lighting admin. Generative lighting and AI runs programming.
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