Every spring for the last five decades, the Cowichan Valley Arts Council on Vancouver Island has invited the public to a showing of work by island artists and this year is no exception.
The Cowichan Valley Fine Arts Show, which runs May 5 to 22, will feature 160 pieces by island artists that are all for sale. But this year, art buyers and enthusiasts need not leave their couch to get their art culture fix. The entire exhibition is being moved online due to COVID-19 concerns.
“It’s exciting because we are actually going to be able to reach more people,” said council president Janet Magdanz Monday on On The Island.
Magdanz said artists will not only upload images of their work, but many will also provide video of them working in their studios, an intimate bonus audiences would not get at the Cowichan Community Centre in Duncan, B.C., where the art fair is usually held.
Magdanz said a digital tour also makes it easier for people who could not typically get to the gallery and she would like to try and continue having exhibitions also available online even after the pandemic passes.
Artist applications still open
However, there are some drawbacks to a digital show.
“I like to be in the presence of the art. I think that that will be a sad loss,” lamented Magdanz, adding she will also miss the groups of school children who come and tour the spring show.
But there will still be a people’s choice award to vote on, and all of the art, both by emerging and professional artists, will be available to purchase.
Artistic media can include painting and sculpture, fibre arts, photography and painting.
Applications for artists opened April 15 and close April 26 at midnight. Any Vancouver Island artist over the age of 16 is eligible to apply. Art exhibited must be for sale.
Art will suffer if online displays are the norm – Asia Times
Almost 15 years ago, a group of artists, filmmakers, curators and critics came together at the Oberhausen Film Festival in western Germany to discuss the introduction of a new technological medium: YouTube.
How would watching film and video online differ from regular venues such as cinemas or the Oberhausen festival itself, which played an important role in European art-house cinema?
Would films be meaningful in the same way – watched alone, in poor resolution, on a computer – rather than on the big screen by a community that had come together to see them?
“They’re like photocopies,” said the curator, Stuart Comer. Comer, now chief curator for media and performance at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, argued that while watching videos on YouTube was not the same as watching 35mm film on the big screen, home viewing served a different function, and there was room for both.
It’s interesting to think back to that debate now. Many of the early qualms around online viewership have since been ironed out. The quality of streaming has gotten better. Museums and artists run dedicated channels, instead of the free-for-all of early YouTube days when historical films were often altered – edited, overlaid, given new soundtracks – and passed off as original.
We now know that audiences will watch a film from start to finish. This had been another fear, that without the social contract of buying a ticket and sitting in a cinema space, spectators would dip in and out, catching glimpses rather than following a story.
In 2020, with the Covid-19 lockdown, we are lucky to have YouTube, Netflix, Vimeo and other streaming and sharing platforms, but we should also be grateful that the platforms have been around long enough to generate material made for online consumption.
In most cases, we are now not watching “photocopies” of films transferred to the small screen, but works made for the small screen in the first instance.
It is unclear whether the traditional art world – the one of paintings, installations and sculpture – is now in a transition similar to that of the film industry a decade ago.
Museums are digitizing whole rooms of paintings; commercial galleries and art fairs are hastily constructing online selling platforms; and Google Arts & Culture, a digitization project reaching back to 2011, is being recommended by schools as a lockdown activity.
Will these be seen as photocopies, a temporary fix until the era of social distancing subsides? Or will art organizations, some of which have been buoyed by a stratospheric rise in online audience figures, continue these platforms once lockdowns end?
The answer won’t be driven by fidelity to the experience of seeing work “in the flesh,” but by economics. Museums and galleries will face significant budget shortfalls when they begin to open up, whether because of a curtailment in public funding, reductions in private donations or months of loss of revenue.
Exhibition commitments will come stacked upon one another as postponed shows are folded in among future programing, while works meant to be lent out to one place might be needed elsewhere or back home (or might just be too expensive to ship).
Online exhibitions will most likely persist for some time to fulfill these logistical needs – and they might well continue afterwards as an inexpensive strand of quantifiable audience engagement.
But we shouldn’t be lured into thinking that online engagement is a consequence-free decision. Like most instances of outsourcing to technology, online exhibitions mean job losses: the technicians, the restorers, the authenticators, the shippers, the insurers, the guides and the guards who enable the public showing of precious objects.
These roles support others: the technician might be an emerging artist, the guide a student, while conservators and guards might support families at home. Artworks might be digitizable for those who simply want at look at them, but not for the people who make their living in the trade. The art world hinges on the buying, selling, preserving and showing of material goods.
The economic impact goes beyond the art world. For years the trump card of the arts, when it was making its case for public support, has been its economic multiplier effect. For every £1 spent on the arts by Arts Council England, the government recoups £5 in taxes, the Arts Council found in 2015.
The “Bilbao effect,” pertaining to the economic transformation wrought on the northern Spanish city of Bilbao after Guggenheim Bilbao was established there, has dominated numerous city development strategies in the decades since – including, arguably, that of Abu Dhabi. And the argument continues to be made by international consultants, who show how visitors head to F&B outlets, gift shops and hotels after viewing museum exhibitions –benefits likewise not likely to be recouped digitally.
What the crowd in Oberhausen was concerned about all those years ago was YouTube’s effect on its community of filmmakers, curators and critics. As museums and galleries move to online exhibitions, they need to understand that they are risking much more than the loss of authenticity of experience.
This article was provided by Syndication Bureau, which holds copyright.
Art school in Penticton forced to vacate historic home during pandemic – CBC.ca
A 60-year-old arts school in B.C.’s Okanagan is scrambling to find a new home after the Penticton school district opted not to renew the lease.
The Okanagan School of the Arts says it’s being booted from the historic Shatford Centre in Penticton, B.C., where it’s rented space for community groups and hosted art, music and theatre classes for the past 10 years.
The school has leased the building from Okanagan Skaha School District 67 for the past decade.
The district has asked the school to clear out by June 30 when the lease ends. Kim Palmer, the school’s executive director, says it faces the “enormous task” of emptying the building within weeks.
The school, she said, is filled with valuable and specialized equipment, including pianos, commercial kitchen appliances and art supplies.
“At the moment, we don’t know where it will go,” she said.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of the school in March, eliminating its rental and programming revenue.
The school leased the century-old building for a dollar a year but was responsible for maintenance, utilities and insurance. When discussing the June lease renewal, the arts school asked the district to cover $80,000 in operating costs and keep the site running for the community.
Palmer said, in response, the district told her the lease would not be renewed and to vacate the building by the end of the month.
She said the province’s emergency order protecting small-business tenants from eviction during the pandemic does not apply to the school, given its yearly $1 lease.
Priority is spending on students, district says
School District 67 chair James Palanio said the district can’t afford to keep the school afloat.
The arts school has spent about $2 million on maintenance over the past 10 years but more is needed and the district can’t afford it, he said.
“We just can’t spend anywhere other than on the kids,” Palanio said on CBC’s Daybreak South.
Palanio said the district is not evicting the arts school. He said it failed to provide insurance information in January when the lease renewal came up. The school only submitted its proposal in late May, he said.
“We have our own deadlines to meet as well,” he said.
The district has no plans to sell the building, Palanio said, and will be eyeing future plans for the site in late fall.
Palmer said the arts school is also looking at other locations.
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