Art worth the money

Vancouverites and visitors from afar spent the better part of two months enjoying the spoils of a host city. It was a winter games marked with controversy – a fatality, weather more akin to spring than winter, and massive public crticism of the Own the Podium program.

In the end, Canadian athletes triumphed in spades.

It’s still yet to be determined how exactly we can quantify if and to what extent the Canadian public has triumphed. There’s something that can be said for the pride and honour that our athletes have bestowed on their entire country thanks to their many successes.

In the context of the biggest, most international event that Vancouver has ever (and likely will ever) host it was a grandiose success (hope you were paying attention Toronto, those Pan-Am Games are just around the corner!) But in the context of a city that was struggling for the last 18+ months and limping for the last six just to keep the lights on, the glitz and glamour of the Games fades quickly.

On the final day of the Olympics the city was literally ablaze with passion and national pride. Granville and Robson Streets were flooded with red and white face paint and garb, and even a few revellers dressed as moose, gorillas and beavers. The day’s currency was high-fives and verses of O Canada. And though I didn’t have much stake in the outcome of the Games, I didn’t mind seeing the front page of most newspapers dominated by red and white. And Gold.

Canada is a gold-medal winner. But that doesn’t mean the nail-biting can end.

There are a lot of variables to which the addage ‘only time will tell’ can be applied. The one you’re going to hear about here: the future of the arts. There was lots to see and do, the art community was represented during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. But the Games and the Cultural Olympiad last but a few weeks, and what happens now?

After more than two weeks of intense inundation of arts and culture, is there not the expectation that there is more to be had? Certainly, Vancouver is obviously home to countless artists and arts organizations, and art events are happening constantly. But without a digestible program like the Cultural Olympiad how many people will know about the myriad of art events going on in our city every day?

I think the point is not jealously clutching onto what has been installed, what has been exhibited. I think we need to use this momentum — the kind momentum generated when the Vancouver Art Gallery received nearly 100,000 patrons through its doors in two weeks, a record — to continually one-up Olympic art.
The biggest swirl of controversy has been around the provincial budgetary cuts levelled against the arts. Of course, support for the arts does not start and end with government funding. Are regular patrons giving their entertainment dollars to the arts?
Vancouver, I challenge you: take your next date to the museum, not the movies.
Interested in reading more and joining in the conversation? Give a shoutout to @stopbcartscuts

1 Comment

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One response to “Art worth the money

  1. This is a great read!

    I think it’s at least worthy to point out there are constant showings of local short films in and around Vancouver as well, produced entirely on personal funding and passion — so perhaps if one were absolutely dead set on taking their date to the movies, that it’s an option as well.

    Let’s declare March International buy-a-piece-of-art day! :)

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