I write to the Mark Masthead to express some issues found within an article recently published in your December 2017 issue. The article, Art Walk, presented several issues which I will address point by point. I am not sure if this article is an example of a lack of poor reporting or a misunderstanding of what the Arts Walk stood for, but regardless the Arts Walk was the first ever of its kind at Quest and deserved an article that did it justice, while also connecting the meaning behind the event to a larger discussion about what the current geography of the arts are at Quest.
A simple starting point is the misspelled title of the article and event itself that is consistent throughout the article. ‘Art Walk’ was not the name of the event, ‘Arts Walk’ was the running name of the event. The arts space coordinators agreed on a plural form of ‘art’ to encompass the many forms of art that are present and experienced here at Quest.
Amidst a few other incorrect labellings of the arts spaces on this campus (see Ossa dance studio, see Red Tusk Arts Bay/ Art’s Bay), a second issue I took with this article was an odd narrative of the Arts Walk being solely about someone’s roommate making screen prints for the event. To clarify, these shirts were created as per a request made by George Iwama for the Parents Weekend reception, which fell on the same night as the Arts Walk. I, for one, am a fan and an owner of one of these screen printed shirts, but again they were not the heart of the Arts Walk as this article may have otherwise implied. Emphasis should have been placed onto the great amount of work put into the Arts Walk from many other organizers who incorporated a variety of creative components into their spaces. Questions such as “what does it take to run an event like this for the first time?” or “why is this type of event important for students at Quest?” could have been asked, but unfortunately were not. Or perhaps a version of these questions were asked but not answered in a way that pointed to any sort of greater essence of what the current artistic landscape is at Quest.
This leads me to a third issue, which is the fact that Ava Swanson, the SRC Arts and Culture minister, was not mentioned ONCE throughout this article. Running an event such as the Arts Walk requires an individual (or a few) to spearhead the organization, communication and facilitation of the components involved in such a large-scale event. Ava did just that. Ava kept the arts space coordinators on track and helped secure the intended vision for the evening. While I am on this point, I want to thank the other women who help run the many arts spaces on campus and made the Arts Walk a success: Aina Yasue and Nritya Giridhar for the Dance Studio, Satori Clarke for the Music Bay, Emily Weber, Amelia Schmidt, Sadie Ainsworth and Zanna Kortenhof for Quest Coast Sound Radio, Elsa Eleni for the Quest Arts Bay. It is also important to mention the many volunteers and artists who helped make the event happen, many of whom I do not know the names of or exact roles but I am trusting that the Arts Walk would not have been what it was without their help.
To clarify, the Arts Walk came together from an idea proposed to the Arts Space Coordinators group, which consists of the space coordinators mentioned above as well as the Quest Art Gallery headed by Dan Ellis and Henry Jokela. The Arts Space Coordinators meet monthly as a way to hold ourselves and each other accountable for the physical spaces that are provided to us by the university. We meet so that we can make sure these spaces are being respected, fulfilled and so that we can offer a wealth of knowledge and tools for students to use. We update one another on upcoming events and programming we have going on in each space, and help support one another in these endeavors.
As someone mentioned in the article, I was quoted saying that Quest students should “stop complaining and start doing.” I stand by what I said, but I wish that there had been more room to expand on what that ‘doing’ would look like. We have had many moments to be critical about the arts at Quest, and these critiques should not halt as they can be formative pieces as to how we can move forward. It is true that we do not have a comprehensive list of arts courses offered at Quest. It is true that many students feel and perpetuate a narrative of ‘arts frustration’ on this campus. However, it is important to put these frustrations into action, as there are many ways to get out and ‘do’ more with arts at Quest. Please look forward to an article in the next issue regarding how to make these steps moving forward with the Arts at Quest.
Response from the author:
Thank you for reminding me, and our readers, how important it is to tell a story right.
I apologize to anyone that this article may have offended, and especially to the Arts Walk organizers and volunteers. The title, lack of information, and especially, the tone in the article created an image of the Arts Walk that was ambiguous and deeply misleading. I regret this very much. If there was anything that I hope came across in the original piece, it is that I had a wonderful time at the event and am grateful to those who worked so hard to put it on.
From the Masthead
In addition to the errors the letter-writer brings up, Henry Jokela was misquoted saying “you take up space and don’t sleep.” This sentence was misleading and inaccurate of Jokela’s beliefs. In the interview he did not say “taking space”, but “making space”, and meant making space for other artists. We apologize for the error.