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by Bryony Fortune

Saskatchewan may not be one of the top five or maybe even ten cities you think of when thinking of art, but with the right guidance and care Saskatchewan has the potential to become a treasure trove of artistic talent and originality.  With eyes focused on the future of Regina’s cultural community, the Dunlop Gallery has launched Unscripted.Described as a public forum, Unscripted encourages open conversations between Saskatchewan’s broad cultural spectrum of artists, writers, gallery professionals and the general public in the hope of strengthening the local artistic community.

According to Jeff Nye, assistant curator at the Dunlop Gallery, the idea for the series was born out of a concern that there was “little contact between different cultural institutions."  This often-times frustrating lack of contact led to “miscommunication happening between some of the institutions and artists."

"This general miscommunication is caused not by instinctual rivalry between institutions but by lack time and pressure to find funding," he said.

One topic that will be discussed during the series is the tendency for artists to leave the province.But opening speaker Anne Campbell, a writer and former director of the Dunlop Gallery, believes Saskatchewan offers local writers and visual artists many advantages.

"A small community can be often times quite collaborative and often there is good funding for the arts," she said.

The existing trend for young local artists to leave the province is still undoubtedly at the forefront of the minds of the cultural community.  According to Nye the diminishing local talent creates a rift: "Tthere is a trend for people to leave when they’re in their twenties….and that hurts the cultural scene (because) there’s a lot of energy in those years”.  

This is just one of the problems that the forum hopes to open the eyes of upcoming artists to through the interactive nature of the forum. Nye’s hope is that Unscripted will bring “everyone back in conversation." Unscripted not only offers upcoming new artists an opportunity to share their frustrations with their contemporaries, but also create a network among artists, patrons and gallery owners.

While the series is scheduled to run until August 2008, the gallery hopes to continue similar cultural forums into 2010.

(Photo by Bryony Fortune)

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