Diverse emerging artists asking questions about jobs, support and subsidies

With graduation coming up for many art students, questions arise about whether emerging artists, particularly those bringing diverse perspectives, are being adequately supported

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By Ty Lim

Employment in the arts and recreation industry has dropped 19.35 per cent from 325,085 employees in September 2022 to 272,381 as of January 2023, according to the Statistics Canada employment census.  

Messages from unique artistic voices can sometimes be stifled, as breaking into the arts industry can be difficult due to the financial strain, according to Vancouver-based public artist and entrepreneur Jenie Gao.

“I don’t think the support is there in terms of diverse staff, financial resources, other forms of support to ensure that a cohort is both racially diverse and socioeconomically diverse,” Gao said.

Students browsing a recent Emily Carr University exhibition expressed their wants for supporting artists.

“Government subsidies are always good,” said Emily Carr foundation student Kris Reyes.

Artists in the exhibition have opinions about the various ways they can be supported.

Featured artist Sidi Chen said that living as a queer Chinese person in Canada gives him a unique outside perspective. Chen said schools should have a more open mind about art.

“We need to recognize more diverse practices as professionals,” Chen said.

Artist Sam Davis, who deals with chronic illness, said every artist is unique and the support given, financial or otherwise, should be unique to them.

“I think that’s where my interest is in actually helping teach people how to build practices that support them and support their needs,” Davis said. “ I think if we have more focus within the education actually around what each individual needs kind of from the get go, that then everybody just is more supported, as they kind of go about their careers and like operating within the field.”

Gao, Davis and Chen are currently featured in Emily Carr’s biometaphysicalmateria event, an exhibition featuring MFA degree candidates.

“The arts are part of the foundation of how our societies function,” Gao said.  

 

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