Should P.E.I. have a new arts council? Some artists think so
'Ultimately the bureaucracy of the government is directly presiding over funding for artists'
Some Island artists are calling for the creation of an organization similar to the now-defunct P.E.I. Council of the Arts.
Members dissolved the council in August when the province eliminated the group's core funding, following a review that revealed serious financial concerns.
The council did advocacy and mentoring with the arts community and handed out grants to artists — a function that has, for now, been assumed by the province, which will grant artists $100,000 this year.
Artists encouraged to voice opinions
"Ultimately the bureaucracy of the government is directly presiding over funding for artists, and while that is understandable as a temporary solution I don't think it's a good long-term solution," said Pan Wendt, a long-standing member of the arts community. Wendt is a curator at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, but stresses his views are his own.
Wendt, one of those who responded to the post, worries having government in charge of grants could have "a chilling effect" on artistic freedom, and he'd like to see the formation of a new, democratic grassroots group.
'It was about advocacy'
Other artists are concerned about other work the council did besides granting funds.
"The P.E.I. Council of the Arts was not just about money in artists' pockets, it was about advocacy, it was about representing artists," said Nancy Cole, president of the artists' association CARFAC Maritimes.
"I could walk into that office, and I could sit down with the executive director and I could say, 'Where did I go wrong here? Can you give me some advice? Can you give me some feedback?'"
P.E.I. is the only province without an artist-driven organization, added Cole, who's also worried about the influence of politics on the arts community.
In a statement, the province said it recognizes the council played a vital role and welcomes the opportunity to discuss any plans the arts community may have for the future.
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With files from Laura Chapin