The art of living casually

Grassroots group celebrates a decade of artistic support

Cameron Kidd

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

Penelope the cat showed up safe and sound at her owner’s porch after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks. (Photo courtesy of Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing)
Penelope, cat and friend of the Victoria HarbourCats, returns home safe

The cat had an after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks

Stanley Fischer (right) died while in a Victoria police jail cell hours after he was arrested on Nov. 15, 1981. Forty years later, his family is questioning his cause of death. (Photo courtesy of Mark Fischer)
Family wants investigation into man’s 1981 death while in Victoria police custody

Stanley Fischer’s death was ruled a suicide after he was found hanging in his jail cell

The Compost Education Centre is hosting its annual spring plant sale on May 8 at 1216 North Park St. Physical distancing protocols will be in effect during the sale, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Black Press Media file photo)
This weekend: Tenth annual spring plant sale hosted by Victoria Compost Education Centre

The non-profit event Saturday, May 8 will feature numerous varieties of plants, live music

Saanich police detectives are investigating a reported sexual assault that occurred near Glanford Park on the evening of Dec. 29, 2020 and have shared an artist’s rendering of the individual. (Image via Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Saanich police release sketch of suspect sought in December sexual assault

Anyone with information asked to contact detectives, Crime Stoppers

Work is progressing on the new student housing building at the University of Victoria. The building will be home to 398 students when complete in September 2022. (Photo courtesy of UVic)
VIDEO: Mass timber installation begins at UVic student housing project

Green technology plays key role in building that will be home to 398 University of Victoria students

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read