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.”

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria’s 75,000 veggie plants ready to find a home

New gardeners line-up for Get Growing Victoria

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

No one injured in suspicious Victoria boat fire, say investigators

Victoria police and fire personnel called to blaze on waters near Selkirk Trestle May 22

Three people facing mischief charges after protests at Premier John Horgan’s home

Special prosecutor was appointed to avoid real or perceived undue influence

VIDEO: Saanich police tackle man who refused to move off Trans-Canada Highway

At this point, it is unclear why the man refused to move

Dump truck in Nanaimo snags power lines, snaps hydro pole, crashes

No injuries in incident Monday morning on Old Victoria Road

Ferry sailings scheduled once again at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay terminal

BC Ferries announces that resumption of service June 3 includes four daily round trips

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Island Health signs working agreement to turn former Comox hospital into a ‘dementia village’

Island Health has signed a project development agreement with Providence Living to… Continue reading

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

Most Read