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Visual Artists as Entrepreneurs and Marketers
September 2013
Visual Artists as Entrepreneurs and Marketers

Audain Art Museum
June 2013
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November 2012
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Equinox
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From glacial meltwater to contemporary art

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Professional curators of contemporary art were once as scarce as hen's teeth

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Gallery owners have their eye on East Vancouver

Equinox Gallery
February 2012
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November 2011
Nothing is certain but death and taxes

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Hope springs eternal


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The Hotel Waldorf
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Education for the eye,
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Fine art inkjet prints
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Gallery Views

Vancouver: a visual arts scene takes flight
(part two of a three-part series)

By MARYSE DE LA GIRODAY
nano@frogheart.ca

Rendering by Suisman Urban Design of the new Emily Carr University of Art + Design Great Northern Way Campus

Rendering by Suisman Urban Design of the new Emily Carr University of Art + Design Great Northern Way Campus

Artists, administrators, city bureaucrats, politicians, educators, art galleries, the city’s denizens and the real estate industry have collided to create what could be an extraordinary moment for Vancouver’s visual arts scene.

As the recipient of a $400,000 grant made possible by a community amenity contribution (CAC) of $4.5 million from developer Rize Alliance, grunt gallery is one of the beneficiaries of the city’s policy of encouraging real estate developers to contribute cash or something in kind to arts groups in exchange for rezoning.

Glenn Alteen, program director for the artist-run grunt, which is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, says, “Now there’s more of everything – more artists, more galleries, more opportunities. It’s one of the biggest changes I’ve seen. Thirty years ago it was all much smaller.”

In grunt’s case, the hope is to use the funds to pay off the gallery’s mortgage, freeing the centre to expand and explore new types of exhibitions. (As of August, the city is being sued over the development in question, and monies from Rize’s CAC have yet to arrive.)

“The public and the city have been very supportive. And, artists have created other kinds of opportunities for themselves too,” says Esther Rausenberg, executive director of the city’s Eastside Culture Crawl (Nov. 20–23, 2014). Held in November of each year, the event dates its history back to 1994. By 2013, the “crawl” was hosting over 430 artists who opened their studios to 20,000 attendees over four days across three neighbourhoods. The event has spawned imitators in the artistic community and beyond. In October 2014, the technology community instituted a Young Innovators Crawl.

Emily Carr University of Art + Design is preparing to leave Granville Island for one of the last undeveloped tracts of land in Vancouver, the Great Northern Way Campus (jointly owned by the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Emily Carr, Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia).

Most city residents are unaware that as Emily Carr nears its 90th anniversary in 2015, it boasts one of the largest visual arts research programs in the country, with two Canada Research Chairs and $3 million in research grants annually.

For an institution with 2,200 students, faculty and staff, this move to the east side of town represents a seismic shift in the city’s field of gravity. “We think this area will be a new cultural precinct,” says Emily Carr president Dr. Ron Burnett, “where new businesses catering to our students and the community and new student-created businesses will emerge.” Burnett anticipates the move will happen in 2017 (Canada’s 150th anniversary). An announcement about the project architects is expected before Christmas 2014.

The city’s other big institutional move, by the Vancouver Art Gallery, is far less certain, with approximately $245 million still to be raised ($150 million by the end of April 2015). While the city has donated land, the provincial government has cast doubt on its committing of funds, and the federal government appears unmoved by an August 2014 submission. Nonetheless, executive director Kathleen Bartels and her board have hired architects to develop a plan while a new Asian art initiative could bode major new funding sources for Bartels’s efforts.

Clearly, the city’s visual arts scene is poised for flight. Whether it will soar no one quite knows.

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