Thursday, January 25, 2007

A better understanding

To say that relations between the West Prince Arts Council (one of the Provinces regional arts councils) and the PEICA have been contentious in past would be a mammoth understatement. In service of finding common ground, we’ve made a number of trips to the western end of the Island and, we are making progress.

A bone of contention is the lack of investment that they see, from us, in their region. It is an issue and we’ve been struggling to find ways to address is. Of course, in our defense, we receive very few applications from that area, in, in their defense, they submit very few applications due to a perception that all the money goes to Charlottetown.

We’re not alone in this problem. Canada is such that we have urban centres (where artists tend to congregate) and rural areas, where there are certainly highly skilled artists, just a lot less of them per square kilometer. Our peer Council's all face similar criticism whether they be Newfoundland or Manitoba.

Out of our last meeting came a better understanding on their part, I believe, of what are existing programs are intended to do, and a better understanding, on our part, that we need both programmatic changes to ensure or increase investment into the region, and training.

For any artist who wishes to pursue public funds through grants, there are skills to be learned. Among those skills is grant writing, public presentations, engaging in critical dialogue and more. Where we can help (now) is in the grant writing. And so, beginning last fall, we went on the road with ½ day sessions across the Island. Clearly, we need to expand this effort, and partner with the WPAC to ensure that we reach the artists we need to reach in that region. As I ended the conversation at that meeting, the only thing preventing this from working is our [shared] commitment to make it work. I believe that WPAC is willing to commit to this and, while it may be slow, I think we'll see some improvement in years to come.