Reflecting on a Big Year for Visual Arts in Canada

In 2014, the visual art industry witnessed groundbreaking achievements, changes and new perspectives across Canada. With the year coming to a close, it’s exciting to reflect on this progress that was no doubt a result of countless years of tireless work. Even more inspiring than accomplishments of this past year is the opportunity they ignite for artists and arts professionals in 2015 and beyond.

 

Here are my top 5 highlights of 2014:

 

1.    CARFAC reaches tentative agreement with the National Gallery

Canadian Artists’ Representation / Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC), the organization that developed the Minimum Fee Schedulefor visual and media artists, and the Regroupement des artistes en arts visuels du Québec (RAAV), reached an historical (tentative) agreement with the National Gallery of Canada that will require the gallery to pay artists minimum fees for the exhibition and reproduction of their work. Controversy between the National Gallery and artwork reproduction rights in 1967 spurred the birth of CARFAC as an organization and a long and hairy road of negotiations formally began in 2004. “The parties are proud to have reached this ground-breaking agreement to remunerate living Canadian artists, a historic milestone that will undoubtedly contribute to the long-term sustainability of the visual arts in Canada.” Learn more at www.carfac.ca.

 

2.    National Gallery appoints Katerina Atanassova Curator of Canadian Art

Speaking of the National Gallery, they are extremely fortunate to have progressive curator and art historian, Katerina Atanassova, fill the position of Curator of Canadian Art vacated by Charles Hill. Atanassova was previously the Chief Curator at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg where she, alongside Dr. Anna Hudson, Associate Professor, Canadian and Curatorial Studies, York University and Ian Dejardin, Director at Dulwich Picture Gallery, curated Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. This significant exhibition of Canadian art became the largest in history to travel Europe, solidifying a place for historical Canadian art on an international stage. Read more here.

 

3.    Artscape launches first affiliate in British Columbia

Artscape has become a phenomenon in Toronto, significantly impacting independent artists and arts organizations by providing affordable studio, office and live/work space (plus so much more!) in several areas in the downtown core. At the beginning of December, Artscape officially landed in British Columbia with its first affiliate location, BC Artscape located in Vancouver. Mayor Gregor Robertson stated, “BC Artscape is an exciting new addition to our vibrant and fast-growing creative sector. Vancouver is home to the most artists per capita of any major city in Canada, and this new initiative will help meet our city’s high demand for affordable new spaces for local artists and entrepreneurs.”

 

4.    Emily Carr University granted funding to study the art of data

Vancouver certainly recognizes the importance of incubating arts and culture development and research. The Emily Carr University of Art & Design announced they received funding to support the study of data aesthetics earlier this month. According to the press release, since entering the digital era, people have relied on visual interpretations of data. The wide variety of data collected by governments, corporations and individuals needs to be presented in a way that is easy to understand. Data visualization is a way of finding meaning within large sets of data and making it easier to understand. The prospect that artists can be placed at the centre of solving data communication issues may lead to unprecedented opportunities and a new perspective on the influence of art in other sectors.

 

5.    The Aga Kahn Museum opens in Toronto

The term “Wold Class” has been used to describe the stunning architecture and astonishing collection that makes up the new Aga Kahn Museumin Toronto that opened on September 18. The concept for the museum began around 12 years ago and was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki. The luminescent building is made of Brazilian granite and is home to a massive collection of Islamic art and artifacts that span a millennium. These elements combined with plans for extensive programming will have a significant impact in building strong cultural bridges. Visit the museum’s first two exhibitions, The Garden of Ideas: Contemporary Art from Pakistan and The Lost Dhow: A Discovery from the Maritime Silk Route.

 

All of these milestones plant a seed for a very promising 2015!

Samantha Rodin

Visual Arts Editor, visualarts@lavalab.ca


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