The connection between the arts and community well-being is well documented. The recently released Vital Signs report from the Victoria Foundation confirms this.
Of the about 1,400 Victoria residents surveyed by the report, 65 per cent believe that arts and culture bring energy and vitality to the city, while 58 per cent consider the arts a critical component in improving the well-being of people in our community.
“There’s so much creativity here in our small city,” says Brin O’Hare, Art Coordinator of the Victoria Arts Council. “I think it’s our role as an arts organization to work with not only artists, but to make sure we can get art out there so that everyone in the community [can] have access to different types of creativity.”
This weekend, O’Hare and her team are doing just that. From May 25 to 28, local artists will come together to present their work during the Art Victoria Now exhibition at the Atrium Building. This juried competition features work by emerging and established artists from the Greater Victoria area, and is free to attend.
“There’s painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics and jewellery work, among others,” says O’Hare. “We try to accept a wide spectrum of styles and media, so that [the exhibition] showcases the massive variety of talented artists locally.”
Art Victoria Now is in its fourth year. One way it judges its success is in the growing number of artists submitting work year over year. “We’ve consistently seen an increase in submissions. This year, about 600 works were submitted,” O’Hare explains. “Because of the size of the venue, we could only accept 10 per cent of submissions.”
These works have been adjudicated by a jury of four leaders in the Victoria art community, with a prize awarded to one artist in each category. There is also an additional prize awarded to one young artist aged 15 to 19 as part of a showcase called Youth Art Now.
“We are working to establish this event as a professional, high-quality exhibition that gives local artists the opportunity to show their work and build an audience,” O’Hare says. “We’re really impressed with the feedback from both the public and the artists themselves.”
“When you help out and start to meet the artists, you can really tell how much this helps people in the arts, as it’s very difficult to gain exposure and recognition in the industry,” says Jon Gagnon. Gagnon is part of a team of volunteers from TELUS that comes out each year to assist with Victoria Art Now.
“We help set up, hang art, pitch in during the event, do tear down, you name it,” explains Gagnon. Gagnon manages the TELUS Koodo store in the Mayfair Shopping Centre. As a TELUS employee, each hour he volunteers for the Victoria Arts Council is matched by a dollar from TELUS, which can be donated to the organization as well. “It’s a great feeling,” he says.
“There’s so much creativity here, especially for a small city,” O’Hare adds. “It’s so exciting to be here right now, and I can’t wait to see how people like the exhibition.”