(also available at http://www.onrpei.ca)
The main staging room at Murphy’s Community Centre was set out with a dozen tables or thereabouts on the afternoon of Monday, November 7. Around 3 p.m., maybe even a little earlier, people began drifting in with boxes, bags, suitcases and other paraphernalia. No, they were not refugees. These people were artists and artisans who had recently arrived in PEI, the majority of them new to Canada as well. And the baggage? These contained works – the products of their creativity that they carefully and meticulously set up on the tables for display.
The event was the 2nd such networking event organized by Culture PEI and the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada, sponsored by the Murphy’s Community Centre. The first such event was held in 2010 and, following its success, the 2nd ever event was mounted this year, attracting several newcomers and representatives from various groups and galleries. Its purpose was to get business owners and managers to meet newcomer artists and artisans to see if they could do business together.
Several calling cards were exchanged, certainly some deals would have been made, and there was also the occasional purchase of products. As this was all going on, a few cultural numbers were staged to entertain visitors and exhibitors alike.
It was most certainly a helpful event, especially to newcomers who had absolutely no connections–or a very precious few—on the island. I personally would never have debuted as an artist had the cultural community in PEI not made it so easy for me to see my dream come to fruition.
What I would like to see, though, is more gallery owners or studio owners and managers or directors of places that would sell works made by newcomers present. I would have loved to have given out every single calling card I brought and maybe even made deals that evening—but that may be just me dreaming a little too much a little too soon.
I do know I’ve made a couple of contacts that seem really promising and hope to eventually follow up on those, but because there is no immediate promise of a solid sale, I know I still have to continue working at my day job (or night job, as the case may be) to support my art.
I would also have wanted an expo-type or fair-type of set-up that might have lasted over a weekend at least (so we could do it despite our day jobs), and we would have the opportunity to sell works as well. Nonetheless, I look forward to participating in more of these events, including craft fairs and such, with the fervent hope that, one day, my art will support me and I won’t need another job!