The art of living casually

Grassroots group celebrates a decade of artistic support

Cameron Kidd

It’s hard to imagine an art gallery running year after year without any staff whatsoever.

But that’s basically what the Ministry of Casual Living has been doing for the past decade, surviving mostly on grant money and the generosity of a dedicated group of volunteers.

“I added up the rent and pure money that the volunteers that ran the place had put in over the last nine-and-a-half years, and it was close to $85,000 that artists paid out of pocket to keep it going,” says Aubrey Burke, who is just completing a year-long stint as the “minister” – the grassroots organization’s term for curator – of the arts collective. “And that doesn’t count time.”

It should be pointed out that the Ministry isn’t exactly your typical gallery. All artists are welcome, and the group’s primary focus is on giving emerging artists a chance to show their work for the first time.

“We’re trying to make this available to everybody. It’s not exclusive at all,” says Cameron Kidd, the group’s new minister. “It’s set up in a way that there is a space available for people if they want to submit. We try to encourage people to submit as many proposals to show as they can.”

A recent move from the Ministry’s original home has opened up new opportunities for potential exhibitors. After occupying a space on Haultain Avenue for its first nine-plus years of existence, the Ministry now has a trio of display spaces in the heart of downtown Victoria.

The windows – in Odeon Alley, at 625 Johnson Street and at 407 Government Street – allow the Ministry to host up to six different exhibits per month; given the normal two-week run of each display. They can also co-ordinate the display spaces to support a single artist.

“We just had John Luna show in all three windows, and that went really well,” says Kidd.

Not only has the move allowed the Ministry to spread the wealth, it’s exposed them to a whole new audience.

“We’re definitely getting a different crowd, different exposure – probably more exposure – downtown with the citizens of Victoria than we were on Haultain in Fernwood,” says Kidd. “There’s a lot more foot traffic.”

Last week the Ministry hosted a two-day party to celebrate its first 10 years. Judging by the sold-out crowds on both nights, there’s plenty of support in Greater Victoria for their artists-supporting-artists approach.

“We’re vibing off the community and people are excited about what we’re doing,” says Burke.

Ten years in, the Ministry continues to look for ways to reach out to the arts community. Collaborations with local musicians are being explored, beach tours are being arranged, and there’s even a documentary in the works that examines the group’s first decade of existence.

“I think that the Ministry has been an important space for artists over the last 10 years, and has given hundreds of people the opportunity to showcase their works in Victoria,” says Kidd. “We’d like to continue doing so.”

 

 

Just Posted

Greater Victoria businesses lose thousands of dollars in credit card scams

Affected businesses want to spread the word to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else

Four-sailing wait at BC Ferries Swartz Bay terminal

Full vessels create long waits on Friday afternoon

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Tent city campers prepare to leave Uplands Park

Vehicle access remains restricted at Cattle Point

A year in tent city: Timeline of Camp Namegans

Since September 2017, Victoria’s homeless camp has set up in more than 20 locations

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for Oct. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Enbridge aims for mid-November to finish B.C. pipeline repair after blast

A natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned near Prince George caused an explosion and fireball

How to get government cheques if Canada Post staff go on strike

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said members could go on rotating strikes as early as Monday

Anti-SOGI school trustee files defamation lawsuit against BCTF president

Barry Neufeld says Glen Hansman’s words caused him “indignity,” “personal harassment,” and “anxiety”

Ocean ‘blob’ returns to B.C.’s North Coast

A 2,000 kilometre patch of warm ocean water could signal a warm winter in Prince Rupert

Most Read