The art of living casually

Grassroots group celebrates a decade of artistic support

Cameron Kidd

Cameron Kidd

It’s hard to imagine an art gallery running year after year without any staff whatsoever.

But that’s basically what the Ministry of Casual Living has been doing for the past decade, surviving mostly on grant money and the generosity of a dedicated group of volunteers.

“I added up the rent and pure money that the volunteers that ran the place had put in over the last nine-and-a-half years, and it was close to $85,000 that artists paid out of pocket to keep it going,” says Aubrey Burke, who is just completing a year-long stint as the “minister” – the grassroots organization’s term for curator – of the arts collective. “And that doesn’t count time.”

It should be pointed out that the Ministry isn’t exactly your typical gallery. All artists are welcome, and the group’s primary focus is on giving emerging artists a chance to show their work for the first time.

“We’re trying to make this available to everybody. It’s not exclusive at all,” says Cameron Kidd, the group’s new minister. “It’s set up in a way that there is a space available for people if they want to submit. We try to encourage people to submit as many proposals to show as they can.”

A recent move from the Ministry’s original home has opened up new opportunities for potential exhibitors. After occupying a space on Haultain Avenue for its first nine-plus years of existence, the Ministry now has a trio of display spaces in the heart of downtown Victoria.

The windows – in Odeon Alley, at 625 Johnson Street and at 407 Government Street – allow the Ministry to host up to six different exhibits per month; given the normal two-week run of each display. They can also co-ordinate the display spaces to support a single artist.

“We just had John Luna show in all three windows, and that went really well,” says Kidd.

Not only has the move allowed the Ministry to spread the wealth, it’s exposed them to a whole new audience.

“We’re definitely getting a different crowd, different exposure – probably more exposure – downtown with the citizens of Victoria than we were on Haultain in Fernwood,” says Kidd. “There’s a lot more foot traffic.”

Last week the Ministry hosted a two-day party to celebrate its first 10 years. Judging by the sold-out crowds on both nights, there’s plenty of support in Greater Victoria for their artists-supporting-artists approach.

“We’re vibing off the community and people are excited about what we’re doing,” says Burke.

Ten years in, the Ministry continues to look for ways to reach out to the arts community. Collaborations with local musicians are being explored, beach tours are being arranged, and there’s even a documentary in the works that examines the group’s first decade of existence.

“I think that the Ministry has been an important space for artists over the last 10 years, and has given hundreds of people the opportunity to showcase their works in Victoria,” says Kidd. “We’d like to continue doing so.”

 

 

Just Posted

UVic Department of Anthropology chair and professor, April Nowell, at home with a copy of her new book, Growing Up In the Ice Age. (Courtesy of April Nowell)
New book by University of Victoria professor explores lives of Ice Age children

April Nowell spent two decades researching archaeological evidence of children, teens

Saanich Neighbourhood Place is hoping to open the doors to its new centre in July, pending final council approval. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich childcare agency awaits final approval on much-needed new facility

Saanich Neighbourhood Place keen to open new centre this summer, expand options for community

Proposed design for the Topaz Park bike and skate park elements. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Victoria requesting feedback on Topaz Park redesign

Public input now being taken for proposed skate, bike park ideas

Victoria police are searching for high-risk missing woman Chloe Morrison who was last seen in Victoria June 13. (Courtesy of VicPD)
MISSING: Chloe Morrison, last seen in Victoria

Morrison, 25, was last seen shortly after 2 p.m. June 13

Processed sewage is still being deposited at the Hartland landfill rather than sent as biosolids to a Richmond cement plant. (Black Press Media file photo)
Biosolids at Hartland still being placed on landfill in Saanich

Richmond cement plant up and running, but CRD end product not suitable for purpose

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Most Read