written by Becka Viau
Charlottetown was alive with music and celebration on Saturday January 22nd at the annual Music PEI Awards Gala. Although I am not a musician, I am an artist and when award time rounds the corner I generally find myself in many conversations about the importance of an awards program to the career development of Artists. A lot of people understand awards as measurements of talent, when most often awards are actually presented for hard work, lots of work and the ability to work efficiently within the industry.
Talent is subjective, and learned. Sure some people seem to have a “natural” ability to grasp technical skill, or maybe have “an ear” or “an eye” for tone and composition, but I would still argue that in order for natural ability to become successful in the industry not only does it have to be nurtured and believed in but it also has to be educated and conformed into the working world of the industry.
It is true that Awards augment artists’ funding applications, and a conference like Music PEI week can provide opportunity for selected artists to sell to delegates from across the country, but mostly Awards create prestige. … and if the actual function of the award is perceived by the public as a measure of talent not an acknowledgment of industry success … I wonder what is the function of all this prestige?
I guess that is the question… what do awards do? Especially in a small place, besides develop the perception of a prestigious scene within the community and ignite some competition amongst local artists? How do the awards affect you? As an artist? As a patron? As the audience? As an Islander?
I ask these questions not because I don’t believe in awards.. as an artist I do enjoy and benefit from the development of the arts scene in Charlottetown. We do have a pretty cool place with a lot of hardworking artists and I definitely don’t mind if the rest of the country knows it. I am just curious.
A great read about the concepts of awards, prestige and industry: The Economy of Prestige, by James F. English. Click here for a book preview.