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Re‐visioning the Visual Arts

Summary Report

November 26, 201426 November 2014

Visual arts and museums

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Based on discussions at the Kingston Colloquium of the Visual Arts Alliance in 2011, this position paper attempts to identify “ways to make the visual arts more central in the lives of Canada and Canadians”.

The colloquium heard from Jeff Melanson, then co-CEO of the National Ballet School, who presented three key points:

  • There is a decrease in art programs in the education system despite evidence of “a direct correlation between exposure to the arts in school and involvement later in life”.
  • “The arts tend to segregate themselves, which creates barriers for the public.”
  •  Attracting private sector funding is critical to the success of arts organizations, as growth in private sector fundraising has outpaced public sector funding.

Five key themes emerged from the colloquium debates:

  1.  Regarding the place of artists and creativity, a need was expressed to “affect artists’ ability to earn a living”, in part by “examining the working relationships between artists and galleries to see how they can be made more productive”. The paper identified improving the livelihood of artists as the “biggest challenge and opportunity”.
  2.  “The centrality of the authentic visual arts experience” was highlighted, with a focus on the need “to find new ways to make the visual arts real and appealing to Canadians”.
  3.  Visual arts education was emphasized, with the report arguing that “real innovation is needed” in order to “develop awareness and appreciation of the importance of the creative experience in human development and in achieving a full and rewarding life”.
  4.  Regarding the “public perception of the visual arts”, the report argues that more effective ways must be found to communicate and promote “the excitement of Canadian art so that the public does not feel mystified by it”.
  5.  The importance of visual arts markets was stressed, including finding “ways to increase sales of visual art works at home and abroad”.

Based on these findings, it was recommended that the Visual Arts Alliance create “three task forces to address impacting public arts education, creating a national arts appreciation campaign and improving the arts economy”.

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