To move forward, current Arts Council members must resign

Posted: 12/09/2021 16:14:07 PM Modified: 12/09/2021 16:13:40 PM The abrupt cancellation of this year’s biennial exhibition by the N...



Posted: 12/09/2021 16:14:07 PM

Modified: 12/09/2021 16:13:40 PM

The abrupt cancellation of this year’s biennial exhibition by the Northampton Arts Council has been appalling and perhaps even traumatic for many of us involved in the vibrant arts community of Northampton and the surrounding communities.

There have been some wonderful and thoughtful letters to the editor on this subject which I personally found to be quite convincing.

Whatever we think of the cancellation itself, I imagine none of us doubts that those artists who identify as Indigenous can be better listened to in a more inclusive future. I’m not writing to convince anyone of the reasons for the cancellation, or to argue with those who think it was the right thing to do. Rather, I am writing to say that we must find a positive path as an artistic community, with love and understanding in all directions.

How those of us who care about the arts in our community look to the future with the Northampton Arts Council given the anger and even disgust that so many of our fellow citizens have felt over the Biennale’s cancellation and of that one Arts Council action that so many of us disapproved of?

If we are going to continue to have an Arts Council to support and promote the arts in our community, and we should do so, then how can we separate the work of the current Arts Council members in connection with the Biennale from the many good ones? things the Council has done over the years; things we all, presumably, wish the Arts Council would continue to do in the future?

The first night to come, the four Sundays in February, the Summer Park series and Transperformance are just a few examples.

For my part, I am not comfortable continuing to support First Night or any other Arts Council activity as long as the current Council members who voted to cancel the Biennale remain in their posts. I recognize that these are volunteers who have acted in good faith, and I am very grateful for the time, energy and effort they have devoted to the advancement of the arts in this community.

You could say that those of us who have not wanted to devote our time to helping run the Canada Council should not be critical of those who have, and there is some truth to this. The only way for me to see us move forward is to completely turn the page on current Arts Council members and have a brand new council appointed by the new mayor.

Therefore, I very respectfully ask the current members of the Arts Council that they all resign from their positions at the latest when the next mayor is inaugurated, so that the current mayor can, during the last weeks of his mandate, appoint an interim group to plan the first night. 2022 as needed for that to happen, and for the next mayor to appoint a brand new board of directors for the Arts Council starting in January.

Regarding the Biennale, my suggestion is that all 60 works selected for display there be exhibited as soon as possible either at the Forbes Library or the Northampton Community Arts Trust on Hawley Street, and that an additional selection of works art by self-identified Indigenous artists be included in the exhibit if that group deems it appropriate.

I suspect that this combined exhibition will be the most visited and most press-covered art exhibition in the history of the city of Northampton. It would be a good occasion for a series of panel discussions on the nature of art, the privilege of whites, the repression of indigenous peoples and their art. But these discussions could, and perhaps should, be separated from a discussion of whether the Council’s action was correct or not?

Although I am not an artist, I am a lawyer who has spent my career representing creators, and I am very aware of the difficulty for dedicated artists to make a living from their art. We must help them, not hinder them. I know this is a goal of the Arts Council and I think this is the reason why the current board members have volunteered their time. Again, I thank them for this even though I ask them to step back and let others make these decisions in the future.

Frederick U. Fierst has lived in Northampton since 1980.



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Newsrust - US Top News: To move forward, current Arts Council members must resign
To move forward, current Arts Council members must resign
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