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This success story recipient got funding because they took the first step and contacted our Centre to learn about their funding options. Although we cannot guarantee you will get funding, the more you know about others experiences the better your chances.

Visual Artist Launches Solo Exhibition with Help from the Ontario Arts Council

$1100 from Ontario Arts Council for exhibition assistance
Arts & Entertainment
Walter's Falls, Ontario
Steven White is an artist in the true sense of the word. When he's not thinking of new ideas for his paintings, sculptures and prints, he's looking into funding opportunities, gallery support, commissions, and media buzz to keep his work vital and in the public eye. As anyone in the arts can attest, the world of self-promotion is a non-stop hustle and not for the weak-hearted. As much as one does it for love or for the sake of art, the realities of the 'business' require you to treat it as such. With gallery shows booked into next year, ongoing art classes for children, and large commissions for corporate clients like Sun Life Insurance, Universal Energy, and the National Bank of Canada, White seems to have found a nice balance between work and commerce. Together with his wife Julia (a fellow artist) he also runs Wonderactive, a gallery, workshop and "space for creative play" located in Walter’s Falls, Ontario.

As a working visual artist, he is well-versed in the world of grant opportunities and the importance they play in the industry. "I'm constantly checking all of these different websites for different opportunities - public art commissions, normal competitions, grants. I'm always out there trying to see a new opportunity". To date, he has received a Project Grant from the Canada Council, an Emerging Artist grant from the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) and an Owen Sound Cultural Award for Visual Art. His most recent grant came once again from the Ontario Arts Council, this time in the form of an Exhibition Grant for his latest show entitled “The Combine Project".

On display at the Robert Langen Art Gallery at Wilfrid Laurier University, the 6-week exhibition showcased a large collection of "kinetic sculptures that produce sound and that require viewer participation to animate", in addition to paintings and prints. With an abandoned combine reassembled and repurposed as contemporary art, the interactive sculptures become symbolic of the changes occurring in agriculture, and highlight "the tension that exists between the man-made world of technology and the natural world." This seems to be a recurring theme in White's work, with 'found objects' taking on new meaning and lithograph prints taken from obsolete science textbooks and farming manuals. He sources his materials from "anywhere and everywhere - garage sales, ebay, flea markets, junk shops." The fact that his sound sculptures require human interaction also makes his work more accessible - bringing an element of fun to the gallery while making it less daunting to a public that might be intimidated or skeptical of contemporary art.

As one of the many grants cited by the Centre for Small Business Financing, the OAC's Exhibition Assistance program provides grants of $500 to $1,500 to assist individual artists with costs related to presenting their work in confirmed, upcoming exhibitions. Artists apply to third-party 'recommenders' who are are public galleries, artist-run centres and other visual and media arts organizations located throughout the province that administer the Exhibition Assistance program and make grant recommendations to the OAC.

In White's case, the majority of the $1,100 was designated towards truck rentals - required to transport the over-sized metal sculptures from his studio in Thornbury to the gallery in Waterloo, Ontario, with the remainder going towards online marketing and promotion. Other eligible exhibition expenses include framing materials/hardware, audio-visual presentation equipment, exhibition space rentals/booth fees, and insurance.

White's advice for any artist thinking of pursuing grants funding is "not to get discouraged" with an unsuccessful attempt. "If you get accepted or you don't get accepted, it has more to do with the jury than it does the quality of your work. Keep applying, keep finding as many opportunities as you can, and get really good photographs of your work. Be persistent, believe in your stuff, and do the work for the joy of it."

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