Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Live as an Artist

Some people believe there is no economic value in the arts and becoming an artist, following one’s creative sensibilities, will only end in a life of poverty and struggle. But this negative belief is simply not true seeing as any rewarding career involves struggle and even in some of the most remote places in Canada talented artists are proving that you can make a living from your passion. In Nunavut, like no other place in Canada, the arts are commercially alive, positively impacting the economy, and creating fulltime careers in places where employment can be limited. Nordicity’s (a leading consulting firm specializing in policy, strategy, and economic analysis in the media, creative and information and communications technology sectors) 2010 Economic Impact Study: Nunavut Arts and Crafts Final Report states:

 In only the few generations that it has existed, Nunavut’s commercial arts and crafts sector has grown to impressive levels. Through its multiple stages from material supply, to product creation and wholesale and retail distribution, the sector generates a total economic impact of $33.4 million annually, leading to 1,068 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs – all from a territorial population of 32,558.  However, straight economic metrics such as contribution to gross domestic product and FTEs do not do Nunavut’s arts and crafts sector full justice. Because of the occasional nature of arts and crafts production, it is estimated that roughly 3,000 Nunavut residents earn some income annually from arts sales. These arts sales, which generate in total more than $27 million in direct payment to artists, eventually result in more than $50 million in end consumer sales, with more than $30 million generated through retailers in the rest of Canada (outside of Nunavut) and around the world.

The art industry in Nunavut not only creates jobs but also allows Nunavummiut to express their culture and way of life, creating a cultural bridge to them and the outside world. The report goes on to assert:

Beyond financial impacts, the arts and crafts sector represents a key piece of Nunavut society. Arts and crafts production provides more than direct employment opportunities; it allows Nunavummiut to be both artists and entrepreneurs in a very self-sustaining fashion by literally creating saleable products with materials gathered from the land…Nunavut arts and crafts provide a constantly evolving representation of the land and its people. Nunavut artists continue to use numerous media – sculpture, tapestries, prints, clothing, sketches, traditional crafts and jewelry, to name a few – to express themselves and their lifestyle to the rest of the world. As the territory continues to evolve culturally, art will provide one outlet to express the blending of old and new cultures. With the proper support to provide access to training, materials and markets, Nunavut’s artists will also continue to translate cultural and artistic expression into significant economic benefits.

So if you are a closet artist wishing that you can make a living doing what you love it is possible even in the most remote areas of Canada. There are many municipal, provincial and federal grants and programs available for artists. So what are you waiting for? Take a leap of faith and live the life you want!
If you live in the Wood Buffalo area and you are looking for ways to start your career as an artist but need some assistance, the Community Strategies Coordinators working for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, are here to help you. You can contact us at recreationandculture@woodbuffalo.ab.ca  or by phone at (780)743-7966.

Arts Council Wood Buffalo is another great local resource helping artists achieve their goals. Contact Arts Council Wood Buffalo at: info@artscouncilwb.ca or by phone at (780) 804-5751.

For the full 2010 Economic Impact Study: Nunavut Arts and Crafts Final Report please visit http://assembly.nu.ca/library/GNedocs/2010/000056-e.pdf

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