Dear Spirit of Christmas Past, I know that Christmas is over for this year, but it appears a few items are missing from under the arts tree. I’m sure they fell out of the sleigh. No problem, we also honour orthodox Christmas on January 7, so there’s still time.
An arms-length arts council: I know, I know. You’ve heard it before. In fact, some Liberal MLA elves reintroduced the bill in Parliament this November, but like the kid in A Christmas Story who really wanted the Daisy Red Ryder BB gun taught us, if you ask often enough, Santa does come through. And we promise, if we do receive an arts council (we want the one that every other province in the country has, please) we won’t make any more Grinch references about a certain former culture minister-turned-premier “whose head wasn’t screwed on quite right. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. But I think that the most likely reason of all. May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.”
Cash: Be nice to the Sobeys for making their national visual art award—$50,000 to a promising artist under 39—an annual event, starting in 2007. And put an extra special something in Mathew Reichertz’s stocking for being this year’s Atlantic Canadian finalist. Also, those Mayor’s Cultural Awards are an awesome idea. Maybe you could add one for visual artists.
Really Santa, we don’t want to be a bother. As Sally from A Charlie Brown Christmas says, “Make it easy on yourself: just send money. How about 10s and 20s?” Or, what about some nice, affordable studio, office and gallery spaces. Preferably all in the same building. Even better, re-open Bloomfield Centre. Questions? Read and learn:
Lucy Van Pelt: “I know how you feel about all this Christmas business, getting depressed and all that. It happens to me every year. I never get what I really want. I always get a lot of stupid toys or a bicycle or clothes or something like that.”
Charlie Brown: “What is it you want?”
Lucy Van Pelt: “Real estate.”
More art on the street: September’s Go North! festival, a day-long studio and gallery tour, brought people into the city’s north end (much like your north pole, only noisier, with fewer hoofed animals), following the citrus-coloured flags to over 45 art-friendly locations, including Viewpoint Gallery, Eyelevel Gallery, Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre and many more. Did you check out all the cyclists on the ghostly Aeolian Ride? We’d like to see this happen all over the city. Think of it as Miracle on Gottingen Street.
More art in homes: According to the Griswolds, “The most enjoyable traditions of the season are best enjoyed in the warm embrace of kith and kin.” Indeed, so is art. We love homebodies Gallery Deluxe Gallery (6015 Willow) and Anchor Archive Zine Library (5684 Roberts) and the trend toward more residential art shows and performances.
Participation in cultural decisions: No offence to anyone on the Commonwealth Games Cultural Advisory Committee, but it’s packed with the same ol’ names, and not a lot of representation from the visual arts community. No one likes to feel left out during the holidays, Santa, or during the biggest event this city will potentially experience since “Gold Digger” tore up the Common. Remember in Scrooged when they tried Crazy-Gluing antlers on the mouse? If you don’t want staples stuck in rodents’ heads, you might want to leave a little creativity under the trees of event organizers, and anyone else who makes bureaucractic cultural decisions.
Great art: Oh Santa, you never fail in this category. It’s like the trusty socks and trashy celebrity mag I always find in my stocking. Last year kicked off with a show from your hood—definitely the biggest of the year—Idea of North, a multi-venue exhibition of media artists from Canada, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. With emerging and senior artists well represented in commercial and public galleries through the rest of the year, you deserve that plate of cookies and milk.