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Update: February - Create!

By Katie Wilde and Melissa Gobeil

As we continue our 12 Month Artful pledge, the staff at GAC are pleased to update you on what February: Create! meant to us.

Katie:

February is a short month, and it felt even shorter with the high level of activity and change in my life at the moment. February may seem like a quiet month at Guelph Arts Council but we're taking applications for Art on the Street and Wall of Art, planning workshops, Walking Tours, and Doors Open Guelph, looking for a new Executive Director, developing creative spaces, and assisting members and the community on the daily. I'm not a fan of the b-word, but honestly, it's been busy!

Outside of work, I'd been practicing some pretty challenging music for Guelph Concert Band (which I joined last month for January's theme "Join") was performing for our February 22 concert at the River Run. I may have done some permanent damage to my partner's eardrums practicing Cuban Overture at home.

So how have I found time to "Create"? Well, it's had to come in bits and pieces. I've been feeling down about how little time lately I've been able to spend on the painting I've been developing for months. When I look back over the month of February, my creative time has come in the form of stolen moments whenever I could get them or incorporate them into my day-to-day life.

 

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On Mondays I volunteer at 10 Carden, and on some Tuesdays I do temporary advertisements for Benefit Health and Wellness, who works out of 10 Carden 3 days each month. Drawing on the chalkboard was challenging at first, but I'm growing to enjoy it more and more.

Sometimes when it's hard to find time to work on my own long-term projects, a sudden need to show love and appreciation to someone important can be the kick in the pants needed to create in little bursts. A beloved mentor of mine had a birthday this month. I knew it was coming but it managed to sneak up on me anyway. So, even though I normally use oil paints and haven't touched acrylics for years, I busted out the old tubes for their fast-drying qualities, and powered through a little bird to give as a gift.

 

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Even half an hour of down time before a concert can be enough to draw up a little handmade card to thank someone who has brightened the life of your band. It may seem like nothing to you, but people's reactions to your small creation - whether doodles, a handmade card, something knitted or sewn, a verse written or a song sung - will often make you and those around you way happier than you thought they would. And while I still believe that making time for difficult and ambitious creations is important, what this February has taught me is that stolen moments of creativity are worth far more than they seem.

 

Melissa:

This crisp cold month forced most of us indoors, and while Netflix by the fireside may have called (loudly), I made sure to make room for my creative practice and to remember that I am an artist first.

While at the workbench a couple of weeks ago, I was working on a prototype of a locket for a client, when a new idea made its way into my head.

This may sound like total distraction from the project at hand, but it wasn’t. You see, this is how the jewellery studio operates. At the bench, you usually have a few projects on the go.

STUDIO mG-scaled-photocredMelissaGObeil

The reason for this is that there are forced waiting times in between certain stages of the process. Sometimes you have annealed a piece of metal (making it softer with heat so it’s easier to work with) and then it goes in the pickle (a hot vat of acid that eats away the oxides that form on the surface after soldering)for a while. So, while waiting for these processes you find you have some time on your hands.

This day in the studio, while waiting for this little locket to come out of the pickle, I noticed a piece of 18k yellow gold wire that was sitting on my bench. Then I noticed a piece of sterling silver wire of the same diameter sitting beside it and decided to join them to make a ring. In this case, I used a lower karat solder (with a melting point that wouldn’t melt either the 18k gold or the sterling silver) to solder the two pieces together before turning it into a ring (for the curious, see the how-to ring making process below.) The result was a lovely, subtle piece that now rests on my finger, reminding me to keep my hands moving and make time to play and create.

I hope your February was wonderful, that you found time to create something new this month, and that the results were delightfully unexpected!

 

Bonus Background - How to make a ring:

Most rings start off as a long piece of metal called a “ring blank." The maker first determines the ring size and then does a calculation to figure out how long to make the “ring blank.”

This “ring blank” is then cut, filed, and measured carefully in millimeters. Then it is annealed (softened) again, pickled (cleaned) again and then formed by hand into a “D” shape before it being soldered closed.

After soldering the ring closed, it goes back in the pickle. When it is done, the solder gets filed off, the ring gets formed into a perfect circle (using a rawhide hammer and madrel). To finish, the entire piece is sanded and polished. And voila! - you have a ring.

This, my friends, is the reason that you see so many projects on a goldsmith’s bench!

Melissa

3 Things You May Not Know About Artists Rights in Canada

By Katie Wilde

When I set about writing this article, I had planned to do Five Things You May Not Know…  As it turns out, the issue of artists’ rights in Canada is a deep dark vortex that seems to go on forever. I’ve cut my originally ambitious goal down to discuss the three areas that seemed the most interesting and timely: the myth of lost copyright, the fight for a minimum wage for artists, and Canada being named as a country that pays the lowest musicians’ royalties in the world. Though I’ve only included three here, there is a lot more to be explored. I encourage readers to click the links included below, and to explore related stories and resources. If you come across something that interests you, or you have questions about, please let me know. It’s possible that we’ll revisit the topic in another article. We are interested to hear what you, our readers, have to say.

 

1. Myth:  "If I sell or give away the original artwork, I lose the copyright"

I'm surprised at how often I hear this one. However, it gives me an excuse to use the somewhat odd phrase, "I've got good news, you're wrong on this one!" The truth is that in Canada, the copyright for an original work of art, whether it be music or visual art, is with the artist automatically as soon as the work is created, and lasts either until they sell the copyright or until the copyright expires, 50 years after their death. Although the works don't need to be marked with the international copyright symbol for the copyright to exist, this doesn't mean an artist can't do more to protect their copyright, especially when work is shared online or available internationally. Given that in our digital age, sharing, borrowing, and illegal use is so much easier than it used to be -and that the internet is by default international - copyright bodies recommend that artists do everything they can to protect and defend their copyrights. This applies to visual artworks, music, film, and writing. Marking your work with the international copyright symbol, your name, and year of first publication (or of creation for unpublished works) is one way to show, in the event of a dispute, that you did everything within your power to communicate the ownership of the copyright. Whatever type of art you do, there is probably one or more Canadian Copyright Collective Society who looks after the issues for that artform. For a full list see the Copyright Board of Canada's list of Copyright Collective Societies.

As a side note, there are exceptions to the copyright automatically being owned by the artists. For example, see visualartcopyright.com's terminology list for a plain English summary, specifically Work for Hire, and Commission.

 

2. Canadian art advocates took fight for minimum artist fees to the Supreme Court of Canada - and won

If you're not familiar with the way visual artists make a living, it's not quite as simple as make a painting, sell a painting. Many artworks have the most impact on a society when they are exhibited in a public gallery setting and many aren't really suitable for home purchase (think Brian Jungen’s Shapeshifter). Works of art are copyright-protected, and in Canada, public exhibition is tied up with copyright law. Artists must be paid when their work is shared with the public, whether it be in a book or live in the gallery. Because of the cross-over with copyright law however, there was some confusion as to whether artists should be paid according to minimum national standards, or negotiated individually.

The short version of this story is that the National Gallery wanted to negotiate with each individual artist on their pay, rather than following the Canadian Artists Representation (CARFAC) fee schedule. The CARFAC Fee Schedule is a collectively bargained set of 'minimum wage' guidelines for artists. It is one of the few ways artists can be somewhat guaranteed a decent living wage. The problem with this is twofold. Firstly, there is a concern that artists will be reluctant to say 'no' to a showing at a prestigious national institution, leaving them vulnerable to being bullied into accepting unfairly low pay. The second is that the more artists who accept low fees, the harder it is for the rest of us to fight for fair minimum pay - and it devalues the hard-earned professional work of all artists and arts advocates.

Since 2003, Canadian arts advocacy organizations CARFAC and RAAV had been in negotiations with the National Gallery on a collective bargaining agreement to ensure a "minimum wage" for exhibiting artists, in accordance with the Status of the Artist Act. However, in 2007, the National Gallery's legal advice argued that they could go by the Copyright Act instead, which "favours individual over collective negotiations", and the courts granted approval.

"The gallery essentially argued CARFAC and RAAV [Regroupement des Artistes en Arts Visuels du Quebec, CARFAC’s Quebecois counterpart] were taking away the right of artists to be paid less if they chose," CARFAC said in a news release.

CARFAC and RAAV took the issue to the Supreme Court, and in May of last year, the court unanimously rejected the National Gallery's argument by allowing the appeal of the earlier ruling. Not only did they favour the appeal, they ruled "immediately after oral arguments" -- a heartening success when one considers that it typically it takes months to receive a decision from the Supreme Court.

Shortly after, the National Gallery released a statement, which stated in part, "The NGC is ready to go back to the negotiation table after the written judgment is rendered."

We wish our fellow arts advocates, artists, and the National Gallery great success in negotiating a mutually beneficial agreement that will help keep the arts and artists alive and well in Canada.

 

3. Tariff 8: Canada sets royalty rates for musicians at a disappointing 10% of international standard

According to a report by Music Canada, the already difficult task of making a living as a professional musician in Canada is not getting any easier. With the reality of declining CD and download sales, rentable web-based streaming services like Pandora are fast becoming the way music enters homes and brightens the lives of Canadians. Recently, the Copyright Board of Canada issued a long-overdue decision on what rates musicians should be paid for their work that is made available for listening through these services. Rather than basing royalties off marketplace rates and international precedent as suggested by Re:Sound, which would "certify that music in Canada has the same value as music in the United States and elsewhere around the world," the Copyright Board of Canada set them at 10% of "marketplace rates freely negotiated in Canada (and equivalent to those in the U.S. and around the world)." According to Music Canada, this decision was made in order to avoid having to raise SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) rates by 90% to match.   

From a Music Canada Q&A on the subject:

"Even royalty rates in the United States – which are 90% higher – are hotly contested as musicians, including songwriters, fight for fairer compensation. With Tariff 8 rates set at 10% of a standard that is already considered to be far too low, it will make it even harder for Canadian musicians to make a living and to thrive internationally while digital music companies continue to grow and flourish.”

And just to put this in perspective, an article published in the Globe and Mail last week reported that one of the most popular songs of the year, Happy, by world-famous pop artist Pharrell Williams was streamed 43 MILLION times on Pandora. Care to take a guess at the giant pile of cash he made in royalties? $25,000 total. Author of the article, Elizabeth Renzetti, drives the point home:

"And that’s Pharrell, who sits atop music’s golden throne. If he’s earning tiny digital royalties, what does that say for the artists further down the chain, in the grubby realm of mere mortals? Toronto songwriter Diana Williamson, who recently moved back from L.A., told me about a song she’d co-written that had reached 260,000 downloads and made it to No. 3 on the Billboard dance chart. She hadn’t seen a penny in royalties. To complain about rip-off downloading, she said in an interview, is to invite 'abuse from the mob. But if those fans were bakers, they wouldn’t be giving away their croissants for free.'"

 

A note about MROC, CARFAC/CARCC and where to get further information on artists’ rights in Canada

We’d be remiss not to mention the unsung heroes at Musicians’ Rights Organization Canada (MROC). The PI’s of musicians’ rights, MROC does some amazing detective work to track down musicians who performed on recordings, some of whom aren’t even credited in the album notes. Once found, MROC makes sure the artists receive the royalties coming to them.

CARFAC is the closest thing Canadian visual and performance artists have to a professional union, and CARCC is their licensing and copyright agency. For artists who feel a bit out of their depth managing licensing contracts or hiring a copyright lawyer, CARCC can manage copyright and licensing on an artist's behalf. When you're not sure what to charge for your art, or budget to hire an artist, CARFAC publishes detailed fee schedules (like a minimum wage for artists) publicly online - you don't have to be a member to access each year's fee schedule online. The fee schedule is a great help both to artists and those who use and exhibit their work.

Don't forget to visit this list of Copyright Collective Societies for resources on all types of arts, from film and media to music, literature, and visual arts. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 Artful Pledge Part Two

By Sonya Poweska

Missed Part One of the Artful Pledge? Don't worry, it's still available here.

Check out our update on what GAC staff did for January's theme (Join)

 

July: Attend

July is a big month for Guelph as Hillside Festival rolls into town. It’s known as one of the greatest festivals around. This award-winning and highly acclaimed festival boasts a great format and many amazing programs, which really celebrate the spirit of its founders and their passion for music, volunteerism, as well as green and local living.

But it’s not just Hillside - Art on the Street is another big event that happens annually on the second Saturday of July. This free, family-friendly event offers something for everyone. Co-hosted by the Downtown Guelph Business Association and Guelph Arts Council, Art on the Street brings over a hundred artists, and thousands of visitors to downtown Guelph for this juried exhibition and sale. Artists line both sides of Quebec Street with their wares while musicians entertain the crowds. This is a great entry point for those who are looking for a way to engage with artists. So mark your calendars now and join us for this great event!

 

August: Share

Do you have a favorite artist, musician, maker, event, or artisan? August is the month for sharing!

We here at Guelph Arts Council love discovering new artists. We also love hearing why your favorite artist has captured your attention. They can be seasoned or fresh, emerging or established, unknown or famous; we would love to hear them all.

For those of you who don’t know, we three staff members here at Guelph Arts Council have all worked in the creative industries in different capacities for many years. We each have our own artistic practices and love hearing about other artists’ processes, disciplines, mediums, and experimentation.

Each day in the month of August, we will share the work of a local artist on Facebook and twitter. Although we have many members whom we can brag about, we would like to hear about your favorite artists. We would also like artists to share images and links to their websites. Bonus points go to artists who share images, videos, or links that detail their creative process. What you share with us we’ll proudly share again with the rest of our network.

Helps us spread the word about Guelph artists, musicians, authors, makers, media artists, and innovators. Join us throughout the month of August as we share, share, share and open a dialogue about the art in our great city! Who knows, you might even discover something new!

 

September: Listen

It’s a great month for listening. The Downtown Guelph Businesses Association continues their run of great noon-hour concerts which are offered every Thursday afternoon at 12. These free and family friendly concerts feature local musicians and are a great way to infuse music into boring lunch hours.

September also welcomes two of the Fab Five Festivals, Guelph Jazz Festival and Eden Mills Writers Festival. Each festival offers different opportunities for attendees to enjoy the sounds, lectures, and words of the musicians, poets, and writers who participate.

If festivals and crowds aren’t your thing, why not treat your ears to the sounds of one of Guelph’s talented musicians or groups. Check out Guelph Chamber Choir, Guelph Symphony Orchestra, Tannis Slimmon, the barber shop musings of The Over Tones, or the great styling of The Funky Mamas. There is so much to choose from when it comes to Guelph’s music community. You can also checkout the selection of local musicians at The Bookshelf.

 

October: Engage

In October, we’d like to engage Guelph in, things you wanted to know about art/artists but were too afraid to ask. Send us your questions (we’ll protect your anonymity) and we’ll do our best to answer them all month long. Engaging in the arts takes a pretty wide definition, and we encourage you to catch up on a month you may have missed, such as Join, Learn, Listen, Share, Attend. And most importantly, we want you to engage with us by telling us what the artful pledge has meant for you.

 

November: Donate

November is typically the time when charities put their call out for community members, patrons, and supporters to donate. It’s also a time when we are ripe with Holiday debt and are busy using most of our disposable income on seasonal coffees, drinks, and festivities.

While all of us working in the sector acknowledge this financial crunch, it is also the time of the year that we often most need your support. Those working in the arts will acknowledge that November through to January is when we receive most of our charitable pledges. This allows us to plan into the New Year, design and plan for new activities, and often, to provide support to others who need it the most.

If you are unable to donate financial resources here are a list of other ways that you can show your support of your community, the arts, and the creative community that deliver creative, impactful, and bright programming throughout the year:

  1. Set up a monthly pledge. Most organizations will accept smaller monthly donations as an alternative to one larger annual contribution. Setting up a pledge of just $10 a month can make a great difference to an organization. If you are interested in contributing or setting up a monthly donation, you can do it at any time on our website or by talking to Katie.
  1. Send a postdated pledge-card or cheque. Do you want to donate, but you know you can’t commit until February? Why not send a postdated pledge card or cheque. Most charities are more than happy to hold onto a payment until a time that is more convenient to you.
  1. Volunteer your time. We all need a little extra help during the year and throughout the Holiday Season. Can you donate your time to a cause? A weekly, monthly, or one-time commitment are all appreciated by organizations like Guelph Arts Council. If you are interested, you can contact us at Guelph Arts Council to talk about volunteering in the arts community.

 

December: Buy

Nothing makes me happier than buying hand-made gifts for my family and friends. For me, it isn’t just about buying; it’s about supporting local artisans and businesses. It’s about connecting with my community and chatting with the makers who have produced the offering that I plan to share with my family and friends.

For many makers, the holiday season is often the most important part of their business year. If you know someone who is a maker, than you can probably confirm that they are pretty busy in the months leading up to the holidays. For us at the Arts Council, attending shows, sales, and exhibitions is a great way for us to catch up with artists, friends, and makers. It is a great social outing and with all the awesome shows, you can make a full day out of it.

In Guelph, we are lucky to have so many talented artists. During the month of December, why not show your support of the many artists and small businesses by purchasing something that is made, produced, fabricated, sung, played, or written by a fellow Guelphite. If we want to reap the benefits of all that our great creative city has to offer, then we need to support our local artists, organizations, and entrepreneurs that contribute to the vitality of the community in which we live.

To find out about all the great opportunities to buy local and support our local arts community, consider subscribing to our ArtsBlast e-newletter. This twice monthly subscription is jammed packed with great events, happenings, and stories about your community. A special Holiday Edition is always produced as well to highlight the many seasonal opportunities to connect with local artists and vendors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creative Spaces Update

As many of you know, Guelph has long explored the idea of a multi-purpose arts facility. This concept has taken many different forms. With each iteration, those spearheading the project have tried to address different needs that have been expressed by the many artists and arts organizations in our community. In each of these scenarios, one of the major challenges has been to coordinate logistics while strategically raising the funds needed to tackle such a massive undertaking. Key to this struggle is creating a safe, accessible, and affordable space for artists and community members.

Guelph Arts Council's Creative Spaces Project was developed to help address the community need for a multi-use arts space to exist. This has been a long standing goal of the arts council and even dates back to our inception as an organization in 1975. With several successes under our belt, Guelph Arts Council has worked to further this goal and over the course of the last 24 months, we have actively been researching sites and pursuing properties that would bring us one step closer to furthering this goal.

Guelph Arts Council has spent a substantial amount of time, effort, and resources looking at and researching potential permanent spaces. In the last six months, we have focused our attention on a particular location which, in the end, did not meet our need for safe, affordable, accessible space that would appeal to a broad range of users and community members. In talking to community stakeholders, it has become abundantly clear that the issue of finding a space that meets these criteria is a wide-spread and systemic issue that is larger than we could have imagined. Accessing affordable spaces in Guelph that meet accessibility and safety requirements is a problem that affects those working in the arts as well as those in other industries, sectors, and areas.

As a charitable non-profit, we owe it to the community to continue this search and look for ways to partner with other agencies, businesses, and sectors to make this dream a reality. This also includes strengthening our relationship with the municipality as they too are a key stakeholder in ensuring the health and well-being of the arts and culture community as well as supporting the development of the creative industries and the many small arts related businesses that propel Guelph's local economy forward.

In addition to our search for a physical space, the Creative Spaces Project has explored and discovered that to many in our community, 'creative spaces' means so much more than the development of a new building or physical location. For many, it means supporting and highlighting the resources and spaces that are already available in our community. For others, the development of 'creative spaces' means building more virtual/online spaces and re-invigorating under-utilized spaces that may be currently used by other sectors or for other purposes.

For Guelph Arts Council, we would like to see the idea of 'creative spaces' emerge with a far bigger and broader definition for our arts community. Rather than developing one new space, Guelph Arts Council will continue to pursue an open dialogue with our community to address the needs of our artists and organizations in bite-sized pieces. This includes highlighting and profiling existing spaces and being open to new opportunities that support our long term goal of addressing the need for a community space.

As an organization, we are committed to strengthening our network of partners to develop solid funding streams that will allow us to be nimble and responsive to the needs of our community, and to take advantage of the opportunities that arise and fit within our mandate. With your ongoing support, we look forward to continuing on this exciting journey of making our city one of Canada's great creative communities.

Sincerely,

Guelph Arts Council Executive on behalf of the Guelph Arts Council Board of Directors

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