Within hours of announcing a new $500 award for critical art writing Monday afternoon, an anonymous donor contacted Visual Artists Newfoundland and Labrador (VANL-CARFAC) and offered to double it.
The artists’ organization issued a news release announcing the Critical Eye Award had been added to its list of prizes for the Excellence in Visual Arts Awards, to take place next May. The award recognizes the impact critical art writing can have on visual artists’ careers.
A donor, who wanted to remain anonymous, had approached VANL the day before this year’s awards ceremony, offering $500 for each of the next four years to establish the award.
“The donor felt that critical writing was crucial to the growth of artists’ careers, and that an award celebrating excellence in art writing would be a great way to encourage more dialogue about the art being created in our province,” said Sara Tilley, VANL-CARFAC’s executive director.
Hours after the information was made public, a second donor contacted the organization, offering to double the prize money.
The award is now in line with the other four visual arts awards presented by VANL-CARFAC: the Large Year award, for an artist who has had an exceptionally successful year; the Long Haul award, recognizing the substantial contribution of a senior artist; the Emerging Artist award for a new artist, and the Kippy Goins award, for an individual or organization whose efforts have helped to sustain and build the visual arts sector.
“I think it’s a pretty strong signal that it’s something that people want to see,” Tilley told The Telegram of the donations for the new award.
“I think that’s something our artists are really starving for: reviews of their work; critical writing about their bodies of work and who they are as artists.
The award is also a sign of the public’s value of the organization and the awards themselves, Tilley said.
“We have always believed in them and definitely our corporate support has been growing every year, and that’s a definite sign that the (awards) are an important part of our culture in Newfoundland.”
The Critical Eye award is open to local, national or international writers who have written about a Newfoundland and Labrador artist within the preceding calendar year, in a recognized print or online publication.
Application forms for all Excellence in Visual Arts awards are available for download on VANL-CARFAC’s website at www.vanl-carfac.com.