For a year, Canada has lacked a national arts magazine—ever since the demise of two publications, Artscanada and Artmagazine. Several regional art criticism journals have tried to gain national readership, but last week a glossy, boldly designed newcomer—Canadian Art—appeared. Unlike its competitors, including Vancouver’s Vanguard and the Montrealbased Parachute, the new $5-an-issue quarterly aims at a broad audience, according to editor Susan Walker. With an initial press run of 20,000, Canadian Art’s 112-page first issue includes a cover story on little-known Winnipeg painter Wanda Koop, a photo essay on the studios of 10 famous Canadian artists, including Alex Colville and Mary Pratt, and a six-page section, “Art and Money,” on the art market. Reader response was mixed. Declared Toronto gallery owner Chris Yaneff, a former director of Artmagazine and an advertiser in the new publication, “It looks like a gossip magazine. But no doubt it will be a success.”
High production costs and limited subscriber appeal usually make arts magazines dependent on corporate and government support. But Walker predicted that Canadian Art would attract 25,000 subscribers within two years that
—more than double that of its marginally profitable predecessor, Artmagazine. In addition, Canadian Art has two strong backers: it is a joint project of the Toronto-based Key Publishers and Maclean Hunter Ltd., which publishes Maclean’s. But Canadian Art, with a $500,000 annual budget, still hopes for funding from the Canada Council, for which it will be eligible after publishing three issues. Said Michael de Pencier, president of Key Publishers: “We don’t imagine it ever making money.”
Some members of the arts community criticized the first issue for its commercial, establishment tone. Diana Nemiroff, assistant curator of comtemporary art at the National Gallery in Ottawa, said the magazine failed to deal with new developments in artistic thought and artists’ political concerns. And Gerald Ferguson, head of the studio division of Halifax’s Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, doubted that it would “appeal to the harder art community.” Walker’s plans may satisfy the critics. Scheduled for the next issue, due Nov. 14, is an article on the avant-garde arts scene in Vancouver. And a subsequent article on artists’ tax problems could convince artists that a voice with a commercial tone may also speak for them.
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