Concordia’s Arts Matters wins prize

The organizers of last year’s Concordia fine arts festival, Art Matters,
received $4,000 prize at the Forces Avenir awards night in Quebec City on Oct.11. They won first place in the letters and culture category.
“I’m ecstatic that we won the prize even though I wasn’t expecting it,” said Michael Golden, one of the organizers of last year’s Art Matters festival.
Former Concordia student Julie Fowler originally conceived Art Matters in
October 2000. Other organizers for last year’s festival included Ruthie Sumiko Tabata and Yael Wand. Fine Arts Student Alliance (FASA) president Declan O’Driscoll is the one of the main organizers of this year’s Arts Matters festival.
“We wanted the artistic community in the university to achieve something outside of the confines of their classes,” said Golden. They also wanted to prove that a student-initiated, student-organized arts festival could succeed. “Although we got some outside help, this was very much a student project.”
Concordia University hosted the festival for two weeks in March 2001. More than 65 arts projects in film, music, theatre, painting, photography and sculpture were exhibited at 17 venues around Montreal and over 400 students participated.
“One of the main goals of Art Matters was to bring the many arts disciplines together, so we had people from visual arts from downtown working with performance artists based in the Loyola campus,” said O’Driscoll. He was also heavily involved in last year’s event.
Last year, the festival cost an estimated $45,000. The money came mostly from university committees and special funds. Other donations came from companies and individuals, and contributions from FASA.
As well as expressing themselves through their art, students who participated in Art Matters learned how to write project proposals, and how to plan and implement their ideas.
“It’s very important as an educational tool for students to know how to prepare proposals for their projects because these students need to know how do things like this for their future careers,” said Laurel Smith, one of the organizers for Art Matters 2002, and a former painting instructor at Concordia. “It brings people together for a short but intense period and everyone learns a lot.”
Both Golden and O’Driscoll acknowledged that many participants in last year’s festival did not know how to prepare proposals, organize their budgets or formulate and present their ideas.
“When you’re an artist in the real world, you have to promote yourself,
represent yourself and be a manager of your own work, and these are things that aren’t emphasized enough at Concordia’s arts programs,” said Golden.
This year’s festival, which is slated for spring, will focus on peace.
“It shows the power art has in building strong community bonds. It provides another forum for the exchange of ideas,” said Smith.

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