“Cultural diplomacy” is at the heart of a new Channel Islands art partnership which is hoping to change perceptions of the jurisdictions internationally.
Art for Guernsey and ArtHouse Jersey recently announced the intention to join forces to better promote the local creative offering.
Speaking to a Chamber of Commerce lunch, David Ummels, founder of Art for Guernsey, labelled it a “key moment for the arts sector”.
He said he struggled to think of places which are “so good inside” and yet “so badly perceived from the outside”, prompting the ambition to change mindsets by promoting the extensive creative offering of both islands.
It’s hoped that ramped up production and promotion of local art will reposition the islands globally as one of the most beautiful places in the world.
The two teams have been in close contact with the Bureau des Îles Anglo-Normandes following a cross-Channel field trip to Rennes in 2022. Mr Ummels said art representatives began talking on the ferry and once they’d arrived in St. Malo an agreement to collaborate had been reached.
Mr Ummels claimed he and his Jersey counterparts were viewed as colleagues rather than competitors by Rennes art professionals, hammering home their belief in greater collaboration.
He also thanked the business, arts, and political community for attending the talk and showing receptiveness to a project that’s for the “greater good” of the islands.
Pictured: Ms Liew addressing the audience at the OGH Hotel.
Gailina Liew, Vice Chair of ArtHouse Jersey, added that the two organisations “have a shared view” on the transformative power of art, and that ArtHouse fundamentally is a production company focused on original art.
She agreed that the partnership should “help to shape a slightly different narrative” around the Channel Islands through a “unified and coherent voice on the global stage”.
The States of Jersey have committed considerable funding for the initiative over the last few years, with two thirds of a £1.7m budget coming from the public purse for 2023.
It follows a decision by their States Assembly in 2019 to invest 1% of its budget into the arts, culture, and heritage. The hope is to position Jersey as a community with arts at its core.
Ms Liew said while there is emerging evidence that art provides a health and wellbeing benefit, there could be a wider economic opportunity too.
Attracting younger people to a vibrant, creative community could be one way to address changing demographics and increase productivity, she said.
While the organisations share much in common, there are also differences which help with learning and development, Ms Liew added.
Mr Ummels said a call will go out next month to local and international artists who find the Channel Islands to be inspiring, to find individuals for artistic residences.
The final selection will be made by mid-May, with the artists rotating between the islands throughout late spring and the summer.
The work that’s produced will form the ‘Channel Islands Collection’ and will go on display at the end of the summer.
Politicians from La Manche, Normandy, and Jersey will visit Guernsey in September. Once here, the Channel Islands’ art offering, including this collection, will be shown off to the political sector.
Mr Ummels hopes a show could also be sent to Brussels, Belgium – with local artworks on display within the European Parliament – as part of the promotion and opportunity seeking work of the partnership.
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