A collective shows how beneficial it is to support local artists
It all started as a small initiative to provide local artists with a source of income during the pandemic. Now, les Encans de la quarantaine has become something bigger. The outcome was unexpected.
Sara A. Tremblay, a Concordia alumna who graduated in Photography in 2014, launched the initiative in late March. The initiative is a virtual platform that promotes works from Canadian-based artists and offers a source of income to them by connecting them to potential buyers. When the project began, Tremblay looked for artists that wished to sell their artwork; it instantly became a success. Tremblay has received many artworks since the opening of the collective. Many came from artists attending universities, like Pardiss Amerian, an Iranian-Canadian visual artist who is currently completing her Master’s in Fine Arts at Concordia.
“I was constantly overwhelmed by the size of the collective. It became bigger than I thought,” Tremblay said.
Although Tremblay resides in the Eastern Townships, she was able to connect with Montreal’s artistic community easily online. Since the beginning, Tremblay has been working on the collective remotely with other members that reside in Montreal.
“It’s great to be able to work with the artistic community of Montreal and not live in the city,” continued Tremblay.
Little by little, Tremblay found people who would be willing to help her manage the collective. Tasks include drafting press releases, helping conceptualize the initiative, and managing the collective’s Facebook page and Instagram account. At first, applications were sent to her personal Facebook account. Instead, she redirected applicants to an email linked to the collective.
Over the course of the summer, lots of work started to pile up on Tremblay’s desk. In response to the collective’s growth, Tremblay decided to register the collective as a non-profit organization. She has an advisory committee from the artistic community to guide her with grant applications, and is in the process of creating an administrative council.
Since July 13, the collective has asked for a contribution of between $20 and $30 from both artists and buyers after each time a piece is sold to help fund the collective.
“That gives us a little money,” Tremblay said. “It’s not much for now, but eventually we will be raising funds.”
As a result of the first call for applications, 425 artworks were received, of which 275 were selected. The collective took up the challenge of selling 96 per cent of the works chosen from the first callout. Most artists have many artworks, which gives them a chance to reach a wider audience.
For the second call for artworks, Tremblay wants to attract more of an audience of seasoned collectors, and will do so by increasing the quality and maintaining a tighter selection of works.
“The success that the initiative has generated proves that it was necessary to distribute, for free, the work of artists who are not represented by art galleries,” said Tremblay. “At first, we did present the work of artists that were already represented, but we had to clarify our mandate to not interfere with art galleries. Now, we represent independent artists that can be spotted by galleries.”
Tremblay will be teaching an introductory digital photography course at the University of Sherbrooke this fall and will participate in an online residency project called 3 fois 3 from le Centre d’exposition de l’Université de Montréal on Instagram. In order to stabilize her other projects, she has delegated some of the collective to other members of the team.
“My purpose is to promote artists that don’t yet have a platform. This can be a first step for them,” she said. “The people who follow us on social media have an interest in discovering new talents. Not all of the artists are new in showing their artworks, but they may not be represented by an art gallery. My team and I circulate art and that’s my goal.”
Les Encans de la quarantaine’s second call for applications is open until Wednesday, Sept. 30.
Photo credit: Pardiss Amerian