You may have noticed that something is missing around Limerick. I’ll give you some clues. It’s an international cultural event that is on in a variety of venues and always on around this time of year. It has been running annually since 1977 (in fact, it once had two outings in one year). No? It’s a highly visible contemporary art exhibition. No-one can agree on how its name is pronounced…is it ee-va? Or ev-a? Or ee-vee and ay? Whatever way you put it, EV+A (Exhibition of Visual Art) isn’t on this year. It’s a shame because aside from confounding the occasional local politician, random art in public spaces adds a splash of colour to local life.
EV+A presents “the evidence that the best of contemporary art offers for the assessment, understanding and celebration of the contemporary culture that surrounds us” and accepts open submissions from artists working in any medium from around Ireland and the world. It also generally has a curator(s) who invites artists to submit work. There are several other strands to it like Young EV+A, which does workshops and tours etc.
The good news though, is that the Arts Council has made an allocation for EV+A 2012. Although the AC didn’t make an allocation for 2011, it didn’t want it to disappear but wanted to change the way the exhibition was run.
Limerick City Council arts officer, Sheila Deegan, said that the local authority negotiated with the AC to make it a reality for next year. The AC’s new three year strategy outlines plans to work with local authorities so organisations/artforms are not just considered as separate entities but as part of coherent strategies for an area.
“It’s a compliment in a way because they realise we have gotten bigger and they acknowledge that. EV+A is an autonomous committee with input from the arts office in the city council and Limerick City Gallery of Art. Initially, the tripod approach worked. They [the Arts Council] want to strengthen the EV+A element of it. It is an important brand,” she said.
Sheila mentioned Dublin Contemporary 2011, which has numerous similarities with EV+A i.e. a theme, multiple venues, internationally acclaimed curator(s) etc. The irony is that EV+A was initially set up because local artists wanted to do an exhibition of scale and quality outside the capital…and this year for the first time, if you want to see something like EV+A you have to go to Dublin.
Sheila added: “It’s interesting because the process that they [Dublin Contemporary] went through is they actually tried to get the strength of the organisation right to put on an exhibition whereas we [EV+A] have the opposite—the quality and reputation of the exhibition but we don’t have the strength of the organisation yet. That was their [the AC’s] main observation. We wrote a new plan that we submitted to them, which they accepted. Based on that, we got funding for 2012.”
Hopefully, all these efforts will make EV+A bigger and better for next year and its 35th anniversary. It’ll show those Dublin jackeens how to put on an art exhibition because as a Rubberbandit once said, “That’s Limerick City”.