Reaching New Audiences: 50 years of partnershipsBy: ArtBank / 27 February 2023
The Canada Council Art Bank has an incredibly rich history of partnerships. Each one has helped to shape the Art Bank and to increase the positive impact of art and artists from Canada, on both the national and international stage. Through partnerships new audiences can see pieces from the Art Bank collection and experience contemporary Canadian art on display in prominent public spaces.
These stories are among the many that highlight how the Art Bank has developed long-lasting connections with partners, here in Canada and abroad, expanding its reach in significant ways.
Creating international opportunities
In 2018, the Art Bank partnered with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario to create an exhibit that celebrated the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Curated by Bruce Mau, the exhibition Awakening featured 21 artworks from the Art Bank’s collection. The exhibit celebrated the work of Canadian and Indigenous artists, contributed to a global conversation on the environment and highlighted how visual art makes relevant issues tangible and engaging.
Opening of Awakening at the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
Awakening was well received and stirred international interest. In 2019, the exhibit toured the United Nations, first travelling to its New York City headquarters, then to Geneva and finally to the United Nations Global Climate Conference in Bonn. Whilst important debates on climate concerns were unfolding, Awakening was on display. With themes such as the planet’s health and sustainability front and centre, the exhibit’s artworks provoked discussions and furthered the dialogue on these issues, among others.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, speaking at the United Nations Global Climate Conference in Bonn
The supporting catalogue for Awakening included essays by international luminaries such as the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, the President of the World Bank Group, and leaders of public and private organizations.
Awakening is a testament to the power of art to forge connections: from a simple partnership with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario to a discussion point with the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General.
A discussion punctured by art
The exhibition, Punctured Landscape, developed in 2016 by the Art Bank with curator Kegan McFadden, built similar connections, in partnership with the Art Museum of the Americas. Originally conceived and presented in the Canada Council’s Âjagemô exhibition space during the lead up to Canada’s sesquicentennial, the exhibition was a meditative journey through the social landscape of recent memory.
Curator, Kegan McFadden, giving a tour of Punctured Landscape at the Art Museum of the Americas.
76 Airplanes (1985) by Robert Adrian in the foreground. Photo: Rafa Cruz
Each artwork in the Punctured Landscape exhibition was selected to represent a different moment in the recent history of Canada. The artworks —and the moments they capture—were presented as punctures in the canvas of an unfolding story, with some pieces representing larger social inequities and moments of unrest. Through the 17 artworks, the Punctured Landscape exhibition asked audiences to reconsider their interpretation of the history presented, and by extension their vision of Canada’s future.
The exhibition’s powerful message resonated so well with audiences at home that it generated interest abroad. After being on display in Ottawa, Punctured Landscape travelled to Washington, D.C. in 2017 for presentation at the Art Museum of the Americas, where it sparked a public discourse that attracted global leaders and thinkers. The Art Museum of the Americas hosted panel discussions that were inspired by topics included in Punctured Landscape. These discussions gave the public an opportunity to learn about issues such as the protection of equal rights for 2SLGBTQI+ and Indigenous persons in Canada.
Barry Ace with his artwork, For King and Country (2015) at the Art Museum of the Americas. Photo: Rafa Cruz
Reaching audiences virtually
In 2019, the Art Bank was approached about renewing its relationship with Google to create an online exhibition. Google proposed the use of its ultra-high-resolution camera to photograph a series of works from the Art Bank’s collection.
Displaying part of the Art Bank collection on Google Arts & Culture platform broadened the potential audience and gave increased visibility to the digitized versions of many works by artists in the Art Bank collection that agreed to participate. The exhibition is ongoing; you can learn more about it by visiting: Canada Council Art Bank — Google Arts & Culture.
A bright future
Over the last 50 years, the Art Bank has flourished through partnerships. By leveraging partnership opportunities, the Art Bank anticipates that the next fifty years will bring new and unexpected ways to feature and broaden the accessibility and visibility for contemporary art and artists from Canada.
The Canada Council Art Bank is also pleased to confirm its ongoing partnership and participation in Doors Open Ottawa, which continues to generate moments for public education and connection with contemporary art from across Canada. On June 3, 2023, the Art Bank will open its doors to viewers enabling them to get up-close and personal with many featured artworks. Save the date and stay tuned for more details on this event.