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Other Themes

March 16, 200816 March 2008

Special Issue: Visual Arts Summit

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Other interesting themes explored at the Summit include:

  • Diversity
  • National Narrative
  • Media Coverage and Publications


The growing diversity of Canadian society was discussed at the Summit, in terms of both access and interpretation. The diversity of the student base at art colleges gave one participant hope for the future.

Some participants noted that Aboriginal art is poorly represented in many public collections. Research, scholarship and curatorial expertise are needed in order to go beyond simply adding a few pieces to an existing collection. “The history of Canadian art should be re-examined.”

One participant asked: “How many Aboriginal curators are currently working in a Canadian public art gallery? Of those, how many only because of dedicated Canada Council funding? Of those, how many were hired after the funding ran out?”

National Narrative

Is there a national narrative in the visual arts? Some participants perceived a need for one, while others did not see one in Canada. On one hand: “Cultural nationalism is what we need. We should not be afraid of the word ‘nation’.” On the other hand, other participants did not perceive a national narrative in visual arts in Canada. Rather, contemporary art was seen to be more about individual artists and their personal narratives.

Media Coverage and Publications

Participants noted the crucial importance of the media for the success of visual arts exhibitions. “If the public does not hear about exhibitions, they won’t attend. Cultural reporting is limited to entertainment news, especially on television. The only exhibitions that do receive coverage are blockbuster exhibitions. Contemporary art should receive such coverage.” One participant wondered whether the lack of media coverage will affect the number of art collectors. However, another participant noted that Air Canada’s En Route magazine recently had a 20-page article on Canadian art and collecting.

In general, many participants perceived a need for more publications about individual artists and key periods in Canadian art history.

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