Special Issue: Visual Arts Summit

Volume: 6 Issue: 10

Legacy ID (armUID): 
This special issue of the Arts Research Monitor provides a brief summary of some key issues explored at the Visual Arts Summit, held in Ottawa from November 25 to 27, 2007. The first gathering of its kind since 1941, over 450 people assembled to engage in discussions about the visual arts in Canada. Participants included artists, collectors, art dealers, arts writers, publishers, art historians, teachers, critics, curators, corporate leaders, arts service organizations and public sector funders. A more thorough summary of the Summit proceedings, prepared for the Canadian Museums Association and the Summit partners by Hill Strategies Research, will be available in the spring of 2008.
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  • The 2007 Visual Arts Summit opened with the announcement that the Canadian Art Museum Directors Association (CAMDO), Canadian Museums Association (CMA), Canadian Artists' Rights/Front de representation des artistes canadiens (CARFAC) and le Regroupement des artistes en arts visuels du Québec (RAAV) had reached an agreement regarding exhibition fees for professional artists.
  • Some major themes explored at the Summit include:

    • Artists, Art Practice and the Arts Market
    • Gallery Collections
    • Public Engagemen
    • Education and Visual Literacy
    • Policy, Politics and Funding
  • In the context of dismal earnings statistics for visual artists, it is not surprising that the issue of the need for artists to make a living was a key theme of the Summit.
  • How does a nation acquire and display its art collection? Collections policies were discussed at length at the Summit.
  • Statistics were presented showing that the percentage of Canadians visiting an art gallery increased substantially, from 19.6% in 1992 to 26.7% in 2005. However, the cost of admission to art galleries was seen by some participants as a barrier to audiences. For some, access means commitment and connection to the community.

  • A number of participants indicated that more can be done to make Canadians – especially children – more visually literate. "Images are everywhere, but people aren't necessarily visually literate."
  • Participants perceived a disconnect between the burgeoning visual arts activity and the lack of awareness and limited funding from the municipal, provincial and federal levels. "Art is a societal project but not a government priority."
  • Other interesting themes explored at the Summit include:

    • Diversity
    • National Narrative
    • Media Coverage and Publications
  • Before closing the Summit, a statement was prepared to further a collective agenda for the visual arts.... Art is the face of Canada...