I’d like to respond to some of the ideas that have been presented in response to my letter to the Editor of November 12. Also thanks to all who submitted comments via our YAC Face Book page https://www.facebook.com/yellowknifeartistscoop/.
Our underlying objective is to suggest that the sports community enter into a conversation with the arts community for our mutual learning and support. We know that the sports networks are much more experienced and successful at working in large groups on collective projects. We in the arts community need to learn how to do this and would appreciate learning from our sports neighbours. We at YAC believe that a well-balanced individual needs both the attributes of a healthy athlete and an inspired artist to be the best well rounded person.
There were some interesting suppositions made such as sports/exercise trumps arts, which in regards to available funding is true. However is there statistical evidence for sports superiority? Take for example the world famous sporting event the Super Bowl – one of the top watched sports games in North America with all kinds of interesting statistics. The Super Bowl is huge, however, perhaps the halftime show is a big contributing factor to the event’s popularity. The halftime show is a theatrical art event that features world famous performers such as Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and others. Next year it is billed as “an unforgettable cultural moment”.
The show involves spectacular music, theatrics, and visuals in an extraordinary performing arts production. Can you imagine if there were no artists involved? There would be no artwork for posters, publicity, or tickets, no music, costumes, or performances – just a very large football field for the game. Even the stadium itself is a work of art! Who is supporting who in this example? When was the last time anyone saw a sporting event break out in the middle of a rock concert? The Arts are so intertwined with sporting events, that we don’t even think about it and perhaps take the arts portion for granted. Even for our own Arctic Winter Games, the cultural and arts components are very important contributions from the creative outfits, cultural demonstrations, right up the line though the publicity, arena displays, etc.
I’d like to compare some simple performance statistics and impacts as sports people like to do. One example is Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe’s heroic accomplishments compared to those of Neil Young and Leonard Cohen of monumental musical success. Wayne Gretzky performed professionally for about 20 years and Gordie Howe for 26 years for a combined total of 46 years. Neil Young performed 50 years and is still going, Leonard Cohen 62 years for a total of 112 productive years and growing. Wayne and Gordie are well remembered, but are long off the sports map. Neil and Leonard are still being enjoyed long after myriad performances or death.
Certainly there are moments in sports history that are indelible and worth watching more than once. One example for me stands out – the 1972 epic hockey game Canada versus Russia in the Super Series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSBUL3F92gA, an event where Canada fought its way to become the world leader in hockey. Most of the time however, hockey or other sports games are a one-time event. In contrast, many arts be they visual, graphic, written, musical, or other, can be appreciated for many years after their inauguration. Personally I’ve listened to concerts and performances like Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen innumerable times, not to mention appreciating paintings, other art exhibits and productions repeatedly, especially these days with online accessibility.
Another interesting thought about art and sport as I understand it, is competitive sport encourages you to be your best compared to other people, so a winner can be determined. Art, although at times can be competitive, generally encourages people to look inside themselves, explore and create, in spite of what other people might think.
I would like to say that I have done my share over the years of fundraising for figure skating, speed skating, and gymnastics, as well as for more than half-a-dozen non-profit art societies. Many art businesses and artists regularly donate freebees in support of sport fundraisers and community fundraisers at large. As yet, I am unsure as to what has come back to the arts community from the sports community?
As stated in the opening of this letter, our goal is to learn from and work together with the sports community. May these recent discussions serve as an invitation for both parties to explore how we might begin collaborating to help our communities effectively meet our needs in a well-balanced manner.
Matthew Grogono M.B.
president,,YK Artists Co-operative LTD (YAC)