Cultivating Creativity: New QAC show celebrates the RISE of women in the arts

By Fiona Campbell/ Quinte Arts Council

Gender inequality is still a real issue in Canada’s arts and cultural sector. Defined as the unequal treatment or perception of individuals based on their gender, this issue is one of national socio-cultural significance, according to an October 2018 report released by the Ontario Arts Council.

The study, The Status of Women in the Canadian Arts and Cultural Industries: Research Review 2010 – 18, synthesized existing research on gender in the arts across six sectors: visual arts, dance, theatre, literature, music and media arts/screen.

While findings of the report reveal there has been a positive shift in women’s access to education and training, as well as representation in Ontario’s arts and cultural workforce (52 per cent of workers are female, though there is still some imbalance within occupational groups; for example, 86 per cent of dancers are women but 67 per cent of choreographers are men), there is still a pervasive dearth in career and industry recognition for women: “Across all sectors, women’s artistic and creative outputs receive significantly less public exposure than those of men… Key indicators such as the gendered profile of productions, exhibitions and awards demonstrate that the dissemination of women’s creative works, and recognition of the significance of women’s artistic achievements, is not of equal status to their male peers.”

This unequal representation of women artists in galleries, museums and auction houses is a global phenomenon, affecting women’s career prospects, regardless of talent. Speaking on a panel about female artists at the Talking Galleries Symposium in Barcelona in January 2019, economist Clare McAndrew reported almost half of the galleries on the Artsy database had rosters with only 25 per cent women, and 10 per cent of galleries had no female representation at all. While 35 per cent of women artists had representation in one gallery, less than 10 per cent had more than nine galleries. In a study of 820,000 exhibitions across the public and commercial sectors in 2018, only one-third are by female artists.

International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8 is a global day honouring and celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women all over the world. The IWD campaign theme for 2020 is #EachforEqual. To start addressing the gendered representation of women in galleries, Quinte Arts Council is posting a call to members for submissions to the RISE : Because We Are Equal show to celebrate the voices and aesthetics of women artists. This show is open to all who identify as women, working in painting, illustration, photography, mixed media, textiles, sculpture, and ceramics.

“Galleries and curators have traditionally discriminated against women (consider the number of permanent collections of art museums featuring the work of white men), but just because women artists haven’t been sufficiently celebrated, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist,” says Janet Jarrell, executive director of the Quinte Arts Council. “Our first show of 2020, RISE, seeks out women doing interesting and innovative work, so we can celebrate their contributions to the arts.”

The show runs for the month of March and art drop-off will be on Thursday, Feb. 27 and Friday, Feb. 28. Opening reception is on Thursday, March 5 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Visit for more information and to register.