Response: How do you measure art and culture in Prescott-Russell?

I read the article on “How to Measure Art in Prescott-Russell” in the Dec. 13 issue, and I realized that a big omission had been made. The Artist was left out of this equation! – Me! – the Conseil des arts Prescott Russell Arts Council (CAPRAC) member! Speaking just for myself, as a long-time, hard-working, visual artist, I wonder if I was deliberately omitted in order to foster the idea that CAPRAC should be absorbed into someone else’s organism so they could get more money?

So, I offer myself as the artist to voice an opinion on three items: CAPRAC’s “usefulness”, Russell Mayor Leroux’s idea of “support”and Mr. Greenwald’s concerns on “making money”.

I have lived in Prescott-Russell for over 25 years and I have been an active artist for over 60 years. The only art association I found in the area was the Association des Artistes Clarence-Rockland (AACR), a small informal group of earnest artists, whose membership is accessible mostly for the residents of Rockland and they are helpful. I was looking for wider contacts, and was happy to find assistance at the Maison des Arts, in Embrun. Although it is not strictly a gallery, it did help me gain exposure in a lovely, heritage place. When CAPRAC announced its launching in 2014, I attended and signed for membership. I was favorably impressed with the professionalism of the presentation, the quality of the catering, the expertise of the live musical group, the number of exhibitors both in tourism/business and the extended variety representing visual and craft art and the presence of gallery curators from the region. The standard for this opening was set with high quality professionalism, and I was interested, as this is the standard I experienced in Montreal vernissages when I lived there.

Membership with CAPRAC brought me widespread opportunities to exhibit, share and sell my works, and in every instance, a staff and volunteers of high calibre organized the events. These events helped raise artists above the old “amateur” level elevating many, undiscovered, from obscurity.

I was richly rewarded for my support and continuing membership. These are some of the far-reaching, high caliber events and opportunities I was invited to: 2015 Finch International Plowing Match and Rural Expo. Almost 100,000 people were estimated to have attended and I had two valuable days of high velocity exposure. I spoke with visitors from Brussels, Germany, and Australia, who looked at the paintings, patently observing that Prescott-Russell is not a culturally deprived area.

I note here that the “ making money” concern is not CAPRAC’s but the “secondary” benefits “down the line” are “metrically” measured in bringing together the money-seekers, the money-generators and the artists, thus “facilitating” the artists’ contribution to the “metric” total! So Mr. Greenwald finds his answer, I hope.

Once more, thanks to one of CAPRAC’s Info-letters in collaboration with the Tourism and Business tab of its activity, a call to artists was announced for the Sugar Shack Festival of March 2016 at Drouin Farm in Casselman, where a good deal of money was generated. I also found calls to juried competitions for the prestigious MIFO gallery, among others.

Then, CAPRAC’s announcement for “The Peoples’ Forest” sent out by Boisés Est, which led my work to be shown in the prestigious Le Chenail Gallery and a press conference in Hawkesbury. All of which attracted visitors, interest and money, certainly adding “value” to the two small salaries paid.

Another sterling opportunity for me, again thanks to membership with CAPRAC, came in Dec. 2016 when the Maison des Arts in Embrun, hosted SHOWCASE! The hall was full! Talk about “support”!

I was also at the Canada Day of 2016 on the island in Hawkesbury, filled with activity and tourists who undoubtedly brought in money for the entire region.

Info-letters from CAPRAC found me accepted as a contributor to the Arbor Gallery’s famous Art Scramble, an event that brought tourists and participants who visited Vankleek Hill restaurants that evening again, bringing money or, “secondary benefits”.

Finally, among these memorable events, I had the joy of participating in the 150 Reasons to be Canadian this year. In Rockland’s River Rock Inn, I spent two days talking and networking with many people, some from Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. I saw hundreds of people streaming in, for 2 days, visiting this exhibition and they looked at 150 artworks, musical video presentations, handcrafted works of excellence, performances, and paintings.

These tourists also visited nearby stores, restaurants, hotels, parks, churches, and sports arenas – surely proving the “secondary benefits manifesting value” improving the quality of life etc.

Now in fairness, I admit that CAPRAC came into existence in Nov 2014. As I see it, the “benefits” have been well marked, and for less than 4 years of energy, I think it generated a high level of stored power and this always brings “returns” with time. So much for that question.

Now, for Mr. Leroux’s head count of … “barely 30 people in the room”: Consider these facts: one – many artist-members don’t have baby sitters for evenings; and two – I know personally that not all artists own a car! His “barely 30 in the room”… and “showing poor support” (as this was not a municipal banquet, he may
have found attendance poor by comparison).

However, I guess no one told him that Russell High School had refused participation in CAPRAC’s offer of exposure for its young artists in the 150 Reasons to be Canadian. Many other schools in Prescott-Russell joined in with enthusiasm, thereby generating a great deal of “support”!

Finally, as to the report’s comment … “offering support to artists without… being the deliverer”…I am confused as to which section of the reporter’s comment quotes Mr. Greenwald and which is his own opinion, if any. No art association can stand alone in Canada. Canada is not Europe. The Canadian public buys very little original art. More money is spent in “Mart-Art”. However, I wish to point out that CAPRAC offers support to artists but when leading the horse to water we know it must want to drink! This horse had plenty of water. Thanks to TPRT AND CAPRAC!

Christine Lenoir-Godin
Bourget, On. K0A 1E0


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