In 2012, Julia Yakobi, an artist friend of mine, and owner of “Canadian Art Concepts Corporation” proposed that three Canadian artists, including me, exhibit their work in Moscow.
The title of the exhibition was “Northern Nature Compilations: Contemporary Canadian Art in Moscow”.
We were extremely pleased when “The Central House of Artist”granted us the use of their world famous European exhibition space and show centre for our exhibition.
It was only through Julia's connections and the uniqueness of our project that this came about.
If you go to www.russianmuseums.info/M1866 you will see what a grand space it is, and how it figures so prominently in the Moscow art scene.
We felt very honoured as this was the first time that Canadian artists had ever been offered an exhibition at this prestigious venue. The exhibition date was set for June 2013.
Now the hard work of fund raising began, as this was not going to be an inexpensive project.
There are so many details to consider eg. shipping the work to and from Moscow, insurance, accommodations for four people for one month, museum expenses, publicity in Canada and Russia etc.
The list went on and on.
We all contributed ideas and energy to the fund raising strategy, and set about to raise the money required for this important, international, cultural event. Julia spent endless hours on developing proposals, and marketing strategies...also flying to Moscow once or twice for extended periods of time to work with the Russian people she knew who supported our project.
Julia contacted various Canadian Government departments asking for help, or suggestions on who to approach. She followed up every lead given, but sadly to say, not one dollar of Canadian money was offered to help us to promote or carry out our exhibition.
The only suggestion that was given was that each of us should apply for a Canada Council of the Arts Grant and maybe that would fund our project.
We all knew that it would not.
Anyone who has applied for government grants of any kind knows that the competition for such funding is extremely stiff. The likelihood of even one of us receiving a grant was not great, so this suggestion gave us little encouragement.
We felt very disappointed that our own government could not see the importance of our exhibition, and give us a helping hand of some sort...but none was offered.
Appeals for financial support to other institutions and private individuals fell on deaf ears as well, and as a group we simply did not have the means to carry out our once in a life time project. It was terribly disappointing...a bitter pill to swallow you might say, but what else could we do?
Much more financial support needs to be in place for Canadian artists to develop and succeed at home and also at the international level.
We must pressure our politicians to do this, otherwise how can our culture develop and remain vibrant?
It is common knowledge that athletes receive funding for training from the government as well as from corporations and private donors, so why can't artists have the same advantage I wonder?
The Arts just don't get their fair share of media coverage either. Compare the number of pages devoted to Arts and Entertainment with the Sports pages in any Canadian newspaper and you will see what I mean.
I brought this point up once with the editor of a large Canadian newspaper and was told ,“Well I guess that people just aren't that interested in art.” I could not believe what I had just heard, and this from a supposedly intelligent, well educated person.
I think that lack of financial support goes back to a general lack of knowledge and understanding of the importance of Arts and Culture in society. Our education system must always support the Arts, and not cut programs when budgets shrink.
The classical Greek model of education was correct to include academic, athletic and artistic components. They recognized that these three areas were vital in order to create well rounded citizens, and we must do the same today in the modern world.
We have such a long way to go to catch up to other countries much smaller than Canada who staunchly support their artists....Denmark and Vietnam for example.
Our Federal and Provincial governments must do more, and a few grants isn't nearly enough. If you don't speak loudly, nothing will change...and that would be a disaster for Canada's creative sector.
The sad thing is that everybody loses!
Believe me, Arts & Culture is not high on our government's list of priorities,
BUT IT SHOULD BE!
Think about this when elections are on the horizon and vote for “Canadian Culture.” Do you want to see the CBC disappear?
This may happen if you don't speak up now, so be vocal!
Speak up for artists and the Arts, otherwise nothing will change, and believe me, we have many wonderful artists in this country. Many of our top artists have been lost to the United States as well as European countries.
They left Canada because “They Had To"!
...there was no work or support for them here. Why should artists have to starve in their homeland?
Cultural events enlighten everyone, and build bridges of good will between nations.
Is this not of great importance today when we see so many conflicts in the world?
Blair T. Paul, all rights reserved
Edited and posted by: Chris MacFarlane Photography
No comments posted.
Welcome to my blog.
I'll be writing on a regular basis about my experiences as a painter over the last forty years. I hope you'll share your thoughts and comments with me - it's a great way to be connected.
Blair T. Paul