Heather Crysdale writes that she's concerned about the impact of National Gallery of Canada cuts on Ottawa-area teenagers like her two sons, including Malcolm, left.
Re: Union says gallery is axing programs, May 16.
I am very concerned about the impact of these cuts at the National Gallery of Canada on arts-minded teenagers in the Ottawa area.
Cancelled gallery programs such as the Teen Council, and the monthly Off-the-Wall art workshops, provided programming that invited teens into the gallery and the studio and brought the National Gallery and its works of art to life.
My son, Malcolm Abraham, 16, was an active participant on the Teen Council. Council members met monthly and set up workshops with local artists, specializing in a variety of art forms -- abstract art, silk screen printing and Munny designing. What a terrific experience for teens interested in a career in the arts.
Malcolm contacted Colin Betts, a local Munny (blank vinyl figurine) designer. He chose abstract art paintings from the gallery to present to teens at the workshop. Each participant then designed a Munny based on a work at the gallery. Malcolm based his Munny design on the Voice of Fire. What a great way to bring art alive for local teenagers.
My younger son, Rowan Abraham, 13, attended the Off-the-Wall workshops on a regular basis, too. I'm wondering if my boys will still enjoy going to the gallery as much as they have, after the cuts.
The proposed direction to "serve a wider audience" includes setting up a self-directed tour for teenagers, and putting art ideas for teens on the gallery website. These initiatives may have their place in promoting the arts, but their appeal to teens would seem limited to me.
How keen is an average teen going to be to tour the collections independently, with a brochure in hand? How likely are they to look up an art activity on the National Gallery's website, and replicate it at home?
It's time for the National Gallery of Canada to rethink its direction for our local youth.
I know we will be reconsidering whether or not to renew our family membership next year.