The most popular news stories aren’t always the most important ones. Prize wins and appointment announcements are generally met with the most enthusiasm, but they prophesize little. We’ve taken look over our news coverage from the last year and culled a few stories—some widely read, some criminally overlooked—that promise to make their effects felt in the very near future.
1. Sobey Art Award Moves to the National Gallery of Canada
The Sobey Art Award is arguably Canada’s most significant multidisciplinary art award, and a shift to a national institution will have important ramifications. To begin, the award has already introduced an international juror, which should help boost the finalists’ international profile. Combined with the National Gallery’s firm grip on the Canada Pavilion in Venice, the award’s move also signals the increasing centrality and reach of our national organization.
2. Major Restructuring of Canada Council Grant Programs
This one is fairly self-explanatory. Every individual and organization that applies for federal grants (almost the entire Canadian artworld) will feel the effects of the Canada Council for the Arts’s decision to restructure their granting programs into six streamlined categories. Details about the new structure have been rolling out slowly over the course of the year (to acclimate? or obfuscate?), but information webinars in early January should shed more light. Whatever the details, though, the restructuring means it’s a brave new world in grant land.
3. Canadian Artists in Venice Endowment Established
It has been the lament for years—the Canada Pavilion is unworkable, the budget is miniscule, artists are forced to become fundraisers and patron courters. But this announcement promises to change all that. After the Sobey family bit the bullet and committed to a lead $2 million gift, more donors began stepping forward. The yield of the fund will offer an operating budget for future Venice artists. Combined with a renovated and restored building, 2017 promises to be an exciting year.
4. The Art Gallery of Alberta: Behind the Recent Headlines
Sometimes news is more important for the general signal it sends, rather than the particular details of one situation—so it is for the Art Gallery of Alberta’s move to a free-admission model. Although the “Bilbao effect” has been roundly disproven, galleries and museums across the country are still scrambling for new and improved buildings. As the AGA’s situation proves, though, there are a whole slew of factors to take into consideration, and Catherine Crowston’s advice should give every director itching to break ground a moment of pause.
5. Canadian Art Editor Richard Rhodes Announces His Departure
There were plenty of comings and goings in 2015 (for more of those look over our “Arrivals and Departures” piece), but we’re biased and closing this out on a personal note. After 20 years of leading the magazine, Rhodes’s departure signals major changes for this publication. It feels a little trite to wrap up a year-end reflection piece with “watch this space,” but we’re saying it anyway: as we enter into the new year with big ambitions and a firm commitment to following developing stories with a critical eye, we want you to be there with us.