The Art Perspective blog is a collection of thoughts, musings, and reflections on art, artists, and current happenings in the art world. 

Why Canada Needs A Second Major Art Fair

Map of Canada, with Provinces and Capital Cities

Over the last several months promoting ARTperspective 2017 we have been asked the same series of questions over and over again, first, "Why Edmonton?" and secondly "Why Edmonton?". You may think that the answer to the first question would sufficiently answer the second, but that is seemingly not the case.

Canada is nearly 10 million square kilometres in size, it is one of the largest countries in the world based on geography alone. In fact the other countries that are similar in size have nearly ten times the increased population density of Canada, countries like Russia, China and the United States. So the one thing we have going for us in Canada is space, we have lots of it. Which then begs the question in a country as large as Canada, how do we support art and artists? Visual art has a long rich history in many of the other countries we have mentioned, and it does in Canada as well, except that our history is not nearly as long, in fact 2017 we will be celebrating only our 150th anniversary as a nation. 

Art is one of those rare pieces of culture that is increasingly appreciated over time, and adds value to the country and culture in immeasurable ways. Internationally art is viewed as an industry, as an asset class. When you work in the art world internationally it is a distinguished role in an industry that generates billions towards the global economy. The United States alone, averages approximately $650 million a year, while China is estimated to contribute $560 million annually and Europe is estimated at another $625 million per year.

In Canada we continue to view art as philanthropy. A charitable, if not noble cause, worthy of supporting, but not yet established enough to stand firm as an industry on it's own. The answer is to make art matter. To make it a priority and to attract collectors, dealers, and artists to Canada to view it as a viable and largely untapped market for emerging talent. Increasingly galleries and dealers from other countries are looking at Canadian artists and are representing their work. It is now incumbent upon us to build our art market and give collectors and dealers more reasons to look at Canadian art. 

Having just spent 3 days at Art Toronto, we can tell you it was an exceptional experience. A fantastic event that does much to raise the profile of art in this country. But Toronto cannot shoulder this entire responsibility on their own. Nearly 3000 kms away the art landscape looks very different. From Vancouver, to the prairies, we need a forum for those artists and those stories to be told as well. So when we are asked - "Why Edmonton?" it is a simple answer. Edmonton is in the centre of western Canada. It is easily accessible whether you live in Vancouver or Regina or anywhere in the north, mid or west coast United States. Edmonton also is known for being an entrepreneurial city, a city that embraces change, a city that sees an opportunity to make something or support something and rallies behind to make it a reality. Why Edmonton? Because when we asked the city, economic development, arts councils and tourism all said yes to supporting a major art fair. And finally why Edmonton? We have incredible people here in the west, people who are art collectors, and are quiet with their money and their collections but believe in supporting the arts.

New York City has 38 art fairs in any given year. 38. In Canada, we think we can support 2.

Art fairs bring together artists, dealers, collectors, and patrons from all over to share exciting new works, to have an open dialogue about art, and to share ideas and thoughts, and oh yeah, and to buy art!!

We couldn't be more excited about the partners, and programming concepts and the editorial works and all of the incredible ideas that are going to make ARTperspective 2017 such a unique event. So for those galleries who have already applied, thank you for your confidence, thank you for being brave and thank you for being first, we know it isn't always easy, and we won't forget your early support! And for those of you out there who haven't applied yet, or who are waiting until closer to the deadline, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We are customizing ways to make the fair work for everyone and we welcome your thoughts and ideas!

Thank you for supporting visual art, not just in Canada, but in the world.