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Tough Times for the Arts in BC

The current arts funding crisis in BC has reignited embers of debate that have been recurring as long as our forest fires. I recently attended a closed-door rally for artists and arts administrators held at the Museum of Vancouver to strategize an industry response to the government's recent draconian cuts to arts funding in BC.

I was in a room with a whole bunch of people facing a future without revenue they were certain was theirs, furious with a government also facing a future without revenue they were certain was theirs. Ironic, eh?...Read more

Curatorial and Entrepreneurial Leadership

I once read a list of ten principles of organizational behavior. The last one was "the punishment of the innocent"; the second to the last was "the rewarding of non-participants". These are the only two I have remembered because they reflected, to a considerable degree, my professional experience plus a wicked sense of humour.

Well on Canada Day, my cynical soul was spectacularly uplifted when I heard from a friend that while I was away, curator and Vancouver resident Ian L. Thom was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada. He was cited for "his contributions as a curator of Canadian art and as an advocate for British Columbia artists." Sometimes the right people are rewarded....Read more

Taking Time

I've had to face the facts. No one has been more surprised at the success of my book, Artist Survival Skills, than I. I was stunned to see the book go into its second (modest) printing - the result, mostly, of the interest of Opus customers. And for that, I thank you sincerely. But beside the sales success, I have been extremely pleased with artists' response to it....Read more

Public Governance

When I was a teenager, I witnessed the hijacking of a hospital.

For most of my life my mother lived peacefully and well cared for in a residential facility administered by the hospital next door. Her life was unsettled one year by a rush of dramatic changes in policy that also affected the costs of her care. All the changes came about because of a 100% change in the membership of the board of directors of the non-profit society that governed her residence - a board elected at that year's annual general meeting (AGM)....Read more

Marketing Brilliance

I met artist Gary Sim through Emily Carr University (www.sim-publishing.com/home.htm) and I think his recent "Salon" was a very good one. Here is Gary in his own words (edited for brevity):

"It was actually quite a complex affair, thrown together in a three-week period. It greatly helped to have already done a huge amount of work on my collection (inventory: titles, dates, costs, images, condition assessments)....Read more

Moral Rights of Artists

I was born an arts advocate. The arts have been a huge part of my life since I could walk and talk. At first, my focus as an advocate was the general public. As the managing director of one of my community's theatres and the curator of its publicly funded art gallery, my programming goal was to earn the arts a huge audience amongst my fellow citizens.

After a decade of advocacy as programming, I got very involved in arts advocacy that involved the education and lobbying of politicians. I wanted more money and a healthier legislative framework in which and with which to make art. But I saw governments and parties come and go and nothing changed. Also, I realized that no matter how much the arts meant to me, I would not base my voting on a party's arts policies alone....Read more

The Controversial TAR Agreement

Call me stupid, but I don't get it. I don't understand why some contemporary artists risk demanding a monetary advantage that makers of other items do not get. I am talking about the "Agreement of Original Transfer of a Work of Art" (TAR) that is gaining in popularity with some artists around the world. I can see how artists might jump at the chance to use the TAR agreement, but there are things to consider before you download a copy....Read more

Peers & Professionalism

Professionalism is so hard to define in the visual arts. What makes an artist a professional? I have read many definitions that have focused on percentages of income, critical and financial success, education, experience, (the Canada Council definition being the most often cited), but one characteristic of most professionals I know is the desire to network with peers. There is nothing like ongoing peer assembly to take one forward....Read more