Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Last one for a while about the RBC Canadian Painting Competition


Last night I crashed the RBC Canadian Painting Competition party reception at the Musee d'art contemporain (can anyone tell me where the RBC stuff is on the museum's website? I can't seem to find it anywhere).

And while I like in theory what they are attempting to do, in practice what they are doing has lots and lots and lots of room to improve.

They mentioned during the speeches that they had received 1,500 entries for the 2006 competition. They seemed to think that this was a good thing. Each year Stewart Hall has an open call for a 'rental show.' Not exactly as lucrative as the RBC's competition, but recognition none the less. They get about 450 submissions each year. The RBC's competition has a budget of, I would guess, $100,000. Stewart Hall has a budget of, I would guess, $1,000. Which organization is getting more bang for their buck?

And while I would be the first to point out that Google juice is not a scientific method for anything, it can serve as a very rough overview of American awareness. The past winners and their Google Juice numbers:
Dionne Simpson (2004 winner) - 680
Etienne Zack (2005 winner) - 1,890
Dil Hildebrand (2006 winner) - 298

If you would like to see how these compare to last year, click on this.

In a nutshell, if I was responsible for giving out $55,000 in prize money that was supposed to 'encourage and nurture creative potential and also facilitate the entry of professional artists into the visual arts community.' I would demand some things:
1. At least ten international articles about the prize winner, and I wouldn't give a hoot about the length. Some 50 word blurb in the News section of ArtForum, 75 words in Art Press, 35 words in Flash Art, you get the idea.

2. Lead arts news item on the CBC, CTV, and Global evening news, and 750 word articles about the competition and the prize winner in the Globe & Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, Le Devoir, and any other Canadian newspaper with a circulation over 50,000.

3. A bilingual exhibition catalog (instead of one in French, and one in English) that does not look like a PowerPoint presentation transfered onto paper. Yes, the RBC is a bank, but so are Deutsche Bank and UBS. I'd also want it to include at least a 2,000 word text from the curator of the RBC collection on something like 'this year's trends in Canadian Painting.'

4. One entry received for every $10 in the competition's budget.

5. That the RBC purchase the three finalists' paintings, instead of leaving it up to their Vice Presidents to negotiate directly with the painters.
Then for more long range goals, I'd try to set up some sort of endowment, so that the prize would not have to rely on the generosity of the RBC each year. I'd try and explain to the museums who host the exhibit that it would be mutually beneficial to show it in one of their galleries instead of an auditorium. I'd try to make sure that the catering bill was smaller than the framing bill. And I'd try to set up a website that listed all the previous winners, had pictures of all the previous prize winning paintings, and if I was really really ambitious, a list of all the previous entrants.

Is this too much to ask?

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