Open letter re: Steveston Grand Prix of Art

July 21, 2016


A Open Letter to Mayor, Council and Staff.

It is with a heavy heart that I make public my intentions not to organize the Grand Prix of Art© in Steveston this year.  I understand the issue was brought to the attention of council at a recent meeting.  In the last three weeks I have been overwhelmed with inquiries and concerns about the event; it is humbling to see the outpouring of public support for this event.

In 2010 I made a commitment to brand and to sponsor the Grand Prix of Art© in the hopes that within five years we would have a series of these events across the province.   The idea was to have Steveston as the flagship event wrapping up the Grand Prix of Art© series held over the course of the summer.

The main criteria I set for the event and for the development of other similar events, to ensure they would be sustainable, hinged on a community first policy with three host partners:

  1. A committed Art Association/Guild that would be the prime beneficiary of the event in exchange for logistical, organizational, and volunteer support.
  2. A commitment from the Municipality to provide space, logistical, and in-kind or financial contribution, with an emphasis on a community first policy.
  3. A strong involvement from the local business community to contribute financially as host partners and to lend marketing and logistical support.

In 2012 the Municipality of White Rock approached me to host the event, but as it turned out this was not a good fit for the Grand Prix of Art©.  They hosted a similar event called “Paint the Town” but were not successful and folded due to a lack of interest from artists.  The same year Steveston hosted over 100 artists.

In 2015 we launched Grand Prix of Art©  in Delta, with the support of the Municipality, the Artists in the Village society, and the Ladner Business association.  On Sunday July 19, 2016, we hosted our second annual event in Delta with overwhelming community support: 86 artists attended, 58 volunteers, 12 community partners, and 24 location partners and thousands of spectators.  I would encourage you to visit our event website for an event summary and view some great event photos.

I am proud to know organizing and sponsoring this event that we have made a difference, inspiring artists, bringing community together and putting over $65,000 dollars directly into the hands of artists.

Steveston Challenge

In 2015 the City of Richmond retracted some of their critical support of the event, requesting to be removed as host partners, rejecting our request for location support in the form of providing tents (Rowe Rentals), and a limited contribution to on the ground support during the event.  We tried desperately to rescue the event by reaching out to the Steveston Community Centre, who agreed to lend and install the thirty tents required to pull off the September event.  As grateful as we for the support of the Community Society, plans for installation of these tents fell through and we were left scrambling to get the tents in place before the event. Although we have always had the support of individual businesses in Steveston we need more collective support from the wider business community and the Steveston Business Association. Last year the president of the Richmond Artist Guild informed me that their organization needed a break from the event, as after six years they were suffering from volunteer burn-out.  For these reasons, I’ve decided not to run the event this year in Steveston and take some time to re-evaluate our goals and partnerships.

I have learned a lot over the last eight Grand Prix of Art©  events, and at the end of the day as caretaker of the event it’s my responsibility to ensure that the integrity and efficiency of the event is executed to the highest possible level.  Other than provide opportunities for artists and local businesses, my overriding goal are to develop a sustainable model for the event, one that all stakeholders participate in and benefit from.  I am confident that with proper dialog and stakeholder interest the Steveston Grand Prix of Art©  could become a flagship event for the arts in the Province; however, when I started this event seven years ago I miscalculated the limitations of the bottom-up grassroots approach to building a lasting event.  If this event is going to continue in Steveston a new approach and sustainable strategy must be designed and developed in consultation with the different stakeholders.  I would encourage City Staff and Council members to review this event (and other grassroots events) and lets continue the discussion about policies, encouraging a bottom-up cultural strategy rather than a trickle down model which is so prevalent in Municipal, Provincial and Federal Art and Culture policy making,

Mark Glavina

Phoenix Art Workshop

8-3891 Chatham St

Richmond BC

V7E 2Z6


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