Wednesday, 20 November 2013 14:00

Marchand wins prestigious CARFAC award

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Laureen Marchand receives CARFAC Tony Award from Acting Executive Director of CARFAC SASK Wendy Nelson. Laureen Marchand receives CARFAC Tony Award from Acting Executive Director of CARFAC SASK Wendy Nelson. Patrick Close

Val Marie-based artist Laureen Marchand was honoured with a major recognition this past weekend in Regina.

The southwest Saskatchewan painter and owner/operator of the grasslands Gallery managed to make it to Regina and back through adverse weather conditions to collect the Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC)-Saskatchewan region’s Tony Award which recognizes “significant contribution to the establishment, growth and advancement of CARFAC SASK, and to the arts community in Saskatchewan.”
For Marchand, a promoter of not only southwest artists but of Val Marie as well, it’s a humbling experience.
“I’ve known about the award since late summer — which has given me extra time to realize what an honour it is,” explains Marchand.
“CARFAC Saskatchewan has made a major difference in my life ever since I became involved with the organization, over 25 years ago. It created opportunities for friendships, professional contacts, contract work, and endless learning. So to have the organization offer me an award — it feels like I should be returning the favour.”
It is CARFAC Saskatchewan’s 30th year, but the national organization was established in 1968. According to its website CARFAC “is incorporated federally as a non-profit corporation that is the national voice of Canada’s professional visual artists. As a non-profit association and a National Art Service Organization, our mandate is to promote the visual arts in Canada, to promote a socio-economic climate that is conducive to the production of visual arts in Canada, and to conduct research and engage in public education for these purposes.”
While it doesn’t seem plausible for an artist to make a living in southwest Saskatchewan away from major art galleries in the larger centres, Marchand is more than happy being in Val Marie.
She says the arts has grown in the southwest and the artists in Val Marie make up a significant part of the community.
“Val Marie has a 10 per cent artist population, but I have to say that Saskatchewan has a long and lively history in the arts. That’s what I remember noticing about the province when I first moved here in the late 1970s,” explains Marchand.
“Every tiny town had a library, people talked politics all the time, and there were artists everywhere. Alberta, where I grew up, just wasn’t like that. And the Saskatchewan Arts Board, Saskatchewan’s important funder for the arts, has been in operation since 1949. It was actually the model for the Canada Council, though the Arts Board is a lot more grass roots. So maybe the visibility of artists now is just one more  chapter. It’s a chapter that looks like continuing. The southwest is so beautiful, and costs of living are still low. It’s an ideal place for artists.”
Marchand has loved being a painter and now having her own gallery has been an excellent experience. She doesn’t see herself anywhere else any time soon.
She enjoyed receiving her award and is proud to say in her opinion CARFAC SASK is the most stable of the CARFAC affiliates and one of the most established of the arts organizations in Saskatchewan. She is proud to be part of it.
“Being an artist is all I’ve ever really wanted. Making something where nothing existed before — it’s hard to beat that,” explained Marchand. “I love the art process. So if I can bring that enthusiasm to others, whether it’s through making art, enjoying it, or learning the skills necessary to have a career in the visual arts, that feels like an honour too.”

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Ryan Dahlman

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