To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Canada Council for the Arts, the organization wants us to get involved in their “50 for 50” Arts Challenge. Canadians are invited to meet the challenge by engaging in 50 arts-related activities over the course of the year.
Do not fret if you’ve neglected the arts since Jan 1 due to laziness and winter hibernation; there’s still ample time to reach the goal in the 45 weeks that remain in the year. For some, the task will be as challenging as twiddling your thumbs while day-dreaming of warmer weather. If you’re uncertain where to begin, Canada Council suggests: “You can listen to a great concert on the radio from the comfort of your armchair. You can have your friends over for a book club. You can write a poem, or sign up for dance classes or watch a Canadian film. Anything related to the arts counts.” Sounds simple! Having involved yourself in arts-related activities, you’re encouraged to provide the Canada Council with details of your artistic endeavours.
Making an effort to incorporate the arts into our lives is a good mission but the incentive behind this challenge is negligible: “At the end of the year, everyone who participated in the challenge and contacted [Canada Council for the Arts] will receive a certificate attesting to their participation. All participants will also be entered in a monthly draw for a “50 for 50” Arts Challenge T-shirt.” Self-gratification is obviously the driving force behind this challenge.
Hopefully, the public response, which is largely from Canadians who already seem to have strong ties to the arts, isn’t representative of the total population of participants. The project would ideally benefit from reaching the artophobes rather than the artoholics. Otherwise, the challenge for 50 ain’t as nifty. Much to our surprise, the program seems to lack an affiliation with school boards, businesses, and local arts organizations. Not even Toronto’s Live With Culture program has made any mention of this challenge. How shocking! While Toronto’s arts community may be slow to acknowledge the existence of the “50 for 50” challenge, the Creative Calgarians campaign run by Calgary Arts Development is using the challenge to encourage interest and participation in their arts community. Will Toronto follow suit and face the challenge?
Throughout the year, there will be events upon events dedicated to the Canada Council’s big anniversary. Let’s hope that the campaign will have an appeal to those who don’t already have a vested interest in the arts. Get started on experiencing art by listening to The Arts Tonight on CBC Radio One (99.1 on your FM dial, weekdays at 10pm) while drawing a picture of a snowman enjoying a bike ride through downtown Toronto on a sunny summer’s day.
Photo courtesy of mfukum, who spent some time sketching at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramics.