Harsh Commentary on Arts Advocacy in Saskatchewan

This post is a series of outtakes and rants that I wrote in tandem with my article “SAA focuses on funding cuts to the arts: Meeting comes up short on strategy” in May 2007 for the June 2007 issue of the CARFAC Saskatchewan Visual Artists newsletter. I had gone to the meeting organized by the SAA (Saskatchewan Arts Alliance) on assignment from my editor, to report on the outcome of the plan “to develop a strategy for improving the dismal state of provincial funding for artists, arts organizations, cultural industries and heritage.” Thinking about the meeting and what was discussed caused me no end of irritation for two weeks, until I finally decided to write everything down. Then I edited. Below is the stuff that didn’t make it past my politeness filters, in all its pugilistic glory. The article that I submitted to my editor is posted here. You might want to read it first, for reference.

I didn’t see the discussion as having been terribly effective in achieving the stated goals of the meeting. It was more of a bitch-and-brainstorm session than a constructive strategic meeting. As such I have no concrete strategy to report on because none was decided upon.

In my opinion the SAA needs to develop a set of desired outcomes rather than spend energy on reactive strategies to the chronic underfunding of the sector. In this way the desired outcomes will drive the strategy. At the meeting I talked about finding champions within government who could carry our torch without dropping it, of developing a culture of conspicuous consumerism of arts and culture as has been done in Britain, of adopting strategies from other sectors where lobbying is successful, of the uphill battle in trying to gain credibility in a demographic which is suspicious of “high culture” to begin with: peasants and protestants.

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Arts Alliance Complains About Funding, Discusses Options

This article originally appeared in the CARFAC Saskatchewan Newsletter in June 2007. It was titled “SAA focuses on funding cuts to the arts: Meeting comes up short on strategy”, and billed as “commentary by Ed Pas.” The headline was assigned by my editor and to my mind is a bit inaccurate. But it’s difficult to encapsulate everything I cover in my rant/report so I’m willing to cut him some slack.

On May 1 the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance (SAA) hosted a general meeting of the arts community at The Refinery in Saskatoon. The SAA is a non-profit coalition of arts organizations whose mandate includes advocating on issues such as public funding of the arts, freedom of expression and artists’ working conditions.

The meeting was held in “response to the inadequate and demoralizing allocation for the arts in the [March 2007] provincial budget.” The goal of the meeting was “to develop a strategy for improving the dismal state of provincial funding for artists, arts organizations, cultural industries and heritage.” (Note that in the context of this article, I’ll use the terms “arts” and “artist” broadly to include visual, literary, performing, and media arts.)

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JackPine Press Chapbook Project With Lia Pas

Lia and I have had our proposal to create a chapbook accepted by Saskatoon-based JackPine Press. We’ve been sitting on this information for a few weeks now, and have already told a number of people about it in person, but due to overwork and a certain amount of inertia hadn’t gotten around to announcing it on either of our blogs. Here’s the scoop.

The working title of the book is Cryptic Species, and will consist of Lia’s1 poems and my drawings. Thematically, we plan to integrate the anatomical- and body-centric themes of Lia’s recent work with some of my drawings that have a macabre and less metaphysically-serene quality than the work most people usually expect from me. That’s right: dark, moody, and a bit clinical.

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Art Conservation: Supplementary Material

This post contains supplementary material and/or clippings from my article about permanence of artists materials, published in the May 2007 issue of the CARFAC Saskatchewan Visual Artists Newsletter. That post can be found here: http://edpas.net/303/. I was originally planning to include information about conservation issues with digital printmaking, but that will have to wait for a future post.

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Conservation of Artists Materials: Workshop Notes and Impressions

This article originally appeared in the CARFAC Saskatchewan Newsletter in May 2007.

I attended the Permanence of Artists’ Materials: Paintings and Works of Art on Paper workshop presented by the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) in Saskatoon in March. The workshop was given by two CCI conservators: Debra Daly Hartin, a specialist in paintings, and Sherry Guild, whose expertise is with works on paper. The CCI is an agency of the Department of Canadian Heritage, and was created to promote the proper care and preservation of Canada’s cultural heritage and to advance the practice, science, and technology of conservation.

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Debut at Darrell Bell Gallery

Since January I’ve been dropping hints and/or telling people that Saskatoon’s Darrell Bell Gallery had agreed to represent me. But I hadn’t wanted to make an official announcement until there was something to show for it. Now, after what seems like months of preparation, my work is finally on display.

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John Scalzi on Escaping Poverty

John Scalzi is a best-selling science fiction writer, who has an excellent blog that I’ve been following for a few years. Many months ago he wrote a piece called “Being Poor”. I just checked his site to discover that he wrote it in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In any case, this week he’s doing his annual “Reader Request Week,” where rather than writing whatever he feels like writing, he writes on a topic that his readers request. Today’s post is a response to the question “What advice would you give to someone who wants to help folks who are poor (either specific individuals they know, or poor people in their community in general) become not-poor?”

While this topic isn’t specifically directed towards artists, I did find that there were many resonances with what I perceive to be success factors in a creative career.

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Garage Art

Late last fall I began my fixation with disseminating my work. I tried to think of some strategies for presenting my work given my knowledge of the venues in Saskatoon and my potential for access to them. Simply put, I didn’t feel that there was a venue that would host my work in the short term. I figured that I needed a garage gallery.

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Studio Activities: Oct 2006-Mar 2007

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll have noticed that since returning to Canada I’ve been posting here slightly more frequently than when I was in England in 2005-2006. Aside from the obvious reason of my not having internet access at home in England, I was simply too busy with other creative and writing projects. Now that I’m reliably online again, I’ve tried to write a bit more regularly. I was hoping to post weekly—as opposed to the daily posts of my final 4 months in Japan—but have been writing so much other stuff that I simply haven’t had the energy.

My success at regular blogging has been mixed, with clusters of posts rather than a set interval ones. What I’ve found recently is that I get a critical mass of ideas swimming around in my head, and am forced to work through them in my blog posts in order to clear my mind for actual work. I think I’m on a two-week cycle, but hopefully I’ll be able to tame this particular beast into something more regular and a little less invasive of my daily routine. As well, I’ve been really busy. But this time it’s been a different kind of busy-ness than that of England.

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