State of the Arts – Art needs you!!

Victoria Ward
Victoria Ward

Art needs you!!

As it is Christmas I will keep this post extremely short since I know nobody has time to read anything longer than their children’s toy instructions and whether it will need batteries or not. These past few weeks after my basic income guest post went basically viral, arts news got decidedly dark.

First there was the National Gallery of Canada freaking out over the fact that their funding has not budged in years and that their dwindling audiences is beginning to feel like the end of the world. Then the Ontario Arts Council dropped a bombshell in Peterborough where they were giving an information session (during which they complained that artists aren’t helping raise their profile, really? That’s our job?). They announced suddenly that there would be reductions to operating budgets across the board and that their new strategy for who qualifies for money will now rely on the word “vital”. It’s a word I associate most with organs such as my spleen and colon but I assume they know what they are doing.  Miami Basel proved once again that the commercial art world is a parade of degenerate billionaires and celebrities who are so far removed from anything resembling art & creativity that the art itself could be eliminated from the equation and no one would notice.

Salon_des_artistes_français_1932
The later, less relevant Salon in Paris, 1932. This too will happen to Miami Basel.

Is there hope? Of course. Between 1748 – 1890 Paris held an annual Salon; an exhibition that was a supposed round of up of all relevant work in the current art world. It lasted a lot longer then that but these were it’s greatest years. At the end of the 19th century the art world was Europe and even then it was just a few cities in Europe. The Salon’s picks, what it saw as relevant and how it operated became so onerous to the contemporary artists at the time they set up their own exhibitions and some artists like Van Gogh and Cezanne didn’t bother with the idea at all. Artists rejected the institutionalized approaches, venues and ideas that society wanted them to fit into.

Today artists seem to be falling all over themselves trying to fit into what society tells them is relevant or lucrative. It is a slow form of torture; you will drive yourself mad if you twist yourself into what someone else wants. Artists have to make a decision: want money? Get a job that pays lots of money. Want fame? Well you could shoot someone if that is all you care about. Want personal success that makes you fulfilled? This isn’t easy, in fact it sometimes never happens, if it does to you, you are brilliant. Do you want to be a good artist? Make your work. Help your community and today this includes activism. Get involved, speak out and make the arts an important issue for the next election.

This holiday between getting soaked in rum & eggnog and fighting with an inlaw, think about how important art is to your life and how much it defines you as a person. Is it worth fighting for? because it will be a fight from now on and we need you.

Image from Wikipedia.

Happy Holidays!

State of the Arts will return January 23, 2015.

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