Artist creating an etching

Art is Essential | The Local Goodness Project

Museums and art galleries are part of Stage 1 of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy, which means they were allowed to open as early as May 14, but most visual arts organizations are choosing to stay closed for now. It’s not a decision they take lightly, since showcasing and teaching art relies on the ability to gather people in physical space. But it’s no surprise that Edmonton’s art organizations have chosen to put public health and safety first by taking the reopening process slowly. It’s impossible to generalize what art is “about” but, in my experience, artists believe strongly in empathy, community and doing what’s right.

The COVID-19 crisis has been incredibly disruptive for individual artists and arts organizations alike — forcing them to cancel exhibitions, workshops and other activities they normally rely on for revenue. Here at The Local Good, we believe art is essential and, if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you do too. So we reached out to a few organizations and a gathered their best advice for supporting the visual arts community through this tough time.

Become a donor (monthly if possible!)

Edmonton has four artist-run centres, non-profit galleries and art spaces developed and managed by artists. We love the Art Gallery of Alberta too but, if you only have so much to give, we think donating to these small, grassroots organizations is the best way to go. Commit to a monthly donation if you can. That way you’re helping the recipient establish a predictable revenue stream. 

Buy art

The most direct way to support individual artists and the organizations that support them, while bringing something unique and beautiful into your home, is to buy their art! You can do that from the comfort of home through SNAP’s online store. For the other three artist-run centres listed above, reach out directly and ask if you can arrange an in-person visit.

Become a member

If you’re interested in a deeper relationship with one or more of these artist-run centres, consider purchasing a membership. They usually have different pricing tiers and come with perks like discounts on classes and early access to art sales. You also get to have a say in the direction of the organization by voting on board members and giving feedback to the administrative team. SNAP even has a membership tier that gets you specially commissioned prints along with their SNAPline publication in the mail every four months. 

SNAP recently moved into a beautiful new space, which integrates their previously-separate gallery and print studio facilities. They aren't open for walk-ins right now, but you can make an appointment to visit on their website!

A few other great organizations you should support

The Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts aids in the creation and exhibition of art by those who face barriers to artistic expression. Their space is still closed too, but they’ve been running a lot of great activities and classes online.

iHuman Youth Society is a non-profit that believes all young people have gifts to share. In partnership with marginalized young people, they amplify their creative expression, address their needs and support goals that privilege their voices. 

The Found Festival, which normally brings art to unusual spaces in the Old Strathcona area, has reinvented itself for this socially distanced moment. They’re still taking submissions for digital or distanced projects for the next few days and you should be sure to check out the festival in early July!