Controversy surrounding proposed downtown Carleton Place art exhibit

Image via Town of Carleton Place

Last week, the Downtown Carleton Place BIA announced its plans for a placemaking project that would fill the town’s downtown area with local artwork. Planned for June through to the Fall of 2024, lamp standards would be adorned with banners in an open-air art exhibition, with an accompanying digital mini-guide.

The intention behind the exhibit was to connect talented regional artists with the community and visitors of downtown Carleton Place.

However, the artists themselves aren’t as thrilled.

On Sunday, April 7, Arts Carleton Place issued a statement saying they “cannot in good faith encourage any artists to give away copyrights to their work,” and urging Carleton Place to drop the artists’ fee for participating.

According to the statement, the $75 participation fee left local artists feeling deflated. While Downtown Carleton Place insists the cost is to cover banner expenses, artists see it as a slight to their craft. They’re hoping to hash things out with the town, even launching a petition over the weekend to rally support. The petition argues that expecting artists to pay for exposure devalues their work and undermines the artistic community.

“Working for free for exposure is a professional no-no. Paying for exposure is exploitation. When artists are asked to work for exposure (in this case, even paying for exposure) it devalues their personal art and the work of the artistic community,” the petition description states.

This isn’t the first time Carleton Place has found itself embroiled in controversy around compensating its artists. Just last month, the Recreation and Culture Department sought local musicians for their “Music in the Park Nights” at Junction Park. Musicians were asked to volunteer their time and talents, sparking outcry from community members who believe artists deserve fair compensation.The petition for compensation regarding the lamppost art exhibit states:

“Although artists greatly appreciate the invitation to be involved, we should not have to pay to do so. Carleton Place artists deserve fair and equitable treatment by the Town of Carleton Place, Downtown Carleton Place, and Carleton Place Tourism.”

Downtown Carleton Place and Arts Carleton Place were unavailable for comment at the time of writing, as both groups are aiming to convene this week for discussions aimed at resolving their differences.

Lanarkist will continue to follow this story as it develops.

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