Because we still need art to live, the Sobey Art Award's long list just dropped

Each of the 25 nominees gets a $25,000 purse.

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Jordan Bennett's 2019 Art Gallery of Nova Scotia showcase, Ketu' elmita'jik, paired quillwork objects with painted murals for a dizzying array of shapes and colours. - RAW PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO
  • RAW PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO
  • Jordan Bennett's 2019 Art Gallery of Nova Scotia showcase, Ketu' elmita'jik, paired quillwork objects with painted murals for a dizzying array of shapes and colours.
While every April the Sobey Art Award (the biggest prize in Canadian art) crowns new royalty with the release of its long list, 2020 feels a little different: This year, the jury behind the prize is forgoing its usual five-artist shortlist and corresponding exhibition. Instead, for the first time ever, everyone on the jury-selected long list of 25 Canadian artists will receive a $25,000 purse (and equal bragging rights).

This is a huge gain for the artists in question, as many galleries and arts organizations from coast to coast remain shuttered and unsure of what's next, leaving creators of art without easy access to an audience or funding.  In simple terms, more money to more creatives means more art keeps getting made.

More great news? Halifax and Nova Scotia cleaned up, with five of the 25 artists living and creating here—including Halifax-raised artist D'Arcy Wilson, whose work focuses primarily on colonial interaction with the natural world; Halifax-based multi-disciplinary artist Lou Sheppard, who is making the long list cut for the second year running; Halifax interdisciplinary artist Melanie Colosimo; and, of course, the region's top vis art power couple—Jordan Bennett and Amy Malbeuf—rep Terence Bay with a nod each (Bennett's 2019 Art Gallery of Nova Scotia show, Ketu' elmita'jik, blended mural work with historical artifacts to bring Mi'kmaq history and artifacts home).

Next up: How do we convince the jury that this new way is better, anyhow, as it helps more artists keep going?

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