NSCAD blossoms in spring

What a wonderful time of the year it is for NSCAD — a time to celebrate. The last two weeks have been chockablock full of events and now it feels we can finally take a breath. That is, until Artist for a Day on May 13th!

Just to recap NSCAD’s spring so far: we had the Starfish Student Art Awards on April 20, the NSCAD Design Show on April 21, Dialect: the NSCAD Fashion Show on April 22, the NSCAD Film Screening Night on April 24, the 2017 Graduation Exhibition and Catalogue Launch and the GG Fête on April 27, and the 2017 Graduation Ceremony on April 28.

DTG

At the opening of the 2017 Graduation Exhibition and the launch of the 2017 Graduation Catalogue. Katherine Nakaska Photo.

All these events show the vibrancy of our university community—a community that students became a part of when they walk through the doors of our Port Campus on their first day at NSCAD.

As president of NSCAD, I would like to recognize the esteemed faculty, who have taught our students and challenged them to achieve their potential, and the staff who have supported them from day one through to graduation and beyond.

GG laureates

At the GG Fete, NSCAD Board Chair Jeff Somerville and myself pose with NSCAD’s Governor General’s Laureates: Landon Mackenzie, Sandra Brownlee, Pamela Ritchie, Jan Peacock and Kye Yeon Son. Katherine Nakaska Photo.

As I told the graduands at the ceremony on Friday, students and alumni will always have a connection to NSCAD through the people they met and the experiences they shared. Art school is a very special kind of experience. Long after graduating, former students may recall a conversation, a piece of advice or a suggestion offered during a critique and reflect on how it changed them and enriched their life.

For example, at the NSCAD fashion show on April 22, we heard the successful alumni Parris and Chloé Gordon say how the critiques at NSCAD influence their creative process today – that their fashion collections get international notice because of the quality of design and the thought and care they invest in each piece. Their holistic experience at NSCAD, including art history to contextualize their work and the creative community they tapped into, helped them to launch their fashion collections even before they graduated. They shared it was a humbling experience to return to Halifax and NSCAD.

Beaufille sisters

Chloe and Parris Gordon of the fashion brand Beaufille opened Dialect: the NSCAD Fashion Show by reflecting on how their NSCAD experience contributed to their success. Katie Nakaska Photo.

The power of a NSCAD education does not diminish over time. NSCAD alumni who graduated 20, 30 or 40 years ago are still processing their experiences and using them everyday in their art practice. Landon Mackenzie (BFA 1976), a 2017 Governor General’s Award Laureate in Visual and Media Arts, tells of the rigor and hard work demanded by the professors in the printmaking department when she attended NSCAD in the 1970s. Not only that, but when her exhibition Parallel Lines opened at the Dalhousie Art Gallery this January, those same professors – Ed Porter and Bob Rogers – attended the opening, cheering her on as always.

I was delighted to meet Landon last week when she was here to attend the GG Fête and give the 2017 Graduation address. Landon is a painter and influential professor at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

starfish winner

Christiane Poulin, 2017 Starfish Student Art Award winner, is congratulated by finalists Ann McCosker, Julie Simmons and Tamsin Sloots. Katie Nakaska Photo.

There are many stories we can all share about why NSCAD is so special and 2016-17 has been an outstanding year of accolades. Here is one more to mention. My heartfelt congratulations to Christiane Poulin, the 2017 Starfish Student Art Award winner. Christiane graduated last week after beginning her NSCAD journey 40 years ago. She was here for a year, and then switched to science and went on to med school. After a career as a public health doctor and researcher, she returned to NSCAD to finish what she started. In her so-called retirement, she has never worked harder. And I don’t doubt it. For Christiane’s textile installation, Winds of Change: a Lace-Scape, Christiane wove by hand more than 40 metres of lace – a tangible demonstration of her commitment, dedication and passion.

Christiane Poulin and Lou Reznick stand with her art installation, Winds of Change: A Lace-scape. Katie Nakaska Photo.

Christiane Poulin and Lou Reznick stand with her art installation, Winds of Change: A Lace-scape. Katie Nakaska Photo.

Elsa and artwork

After meeting NSCAD student Elsa Brittin at NSCAD’s donor reception back in February, Halifax Mayor Mike Savage invited her to create an artwork for city hall. Here’s Elsa and I with Mayor Mike Savage (far left) and Deputy Mayor Steve Craig (at right).

***

Through the summer, NSCAD’s creativity continues with the first summer semester officially beginning  on Tuesday, May 2, and continuing to June 19. A second session runs June 26 to August 15, and it’s still possible to register. Some of the classes in the second session include “Teaching Visual Art,” “Art and Culture of Comics” and “Photography and Colonialism,” among others. Head over to WebAdvisor to find out what’s on the books.

The spring session of classes offered through the School of Extended Studies is just getting going too. Some of the new adult classes on the books include “Drawing Botanicals for Beginners,” “Quilted Projects” and “Portraits in Oil.” There are also Saturday art classes for children ages five and up.

In the summer, NSCAD’s day-time camps are hugely popular. This year, NSCAD is collaborating with the Discovery Centre—new to Seaport neighbourhood—to create art camps with a specialized hands-on “field trip” at the Discovery Centre. Camps include all materials needed, a NSCAD T-shirt, lunch supervision, early drop-off and late pick-up.

Some of the camps offered include “Picasso and Cubism” for 5 to 8 year olds; “Sew Fun” for 9 to 11 year olds; “Comic Cave” for tweens ages 12 to 14; and “Animation” for older teenagers, ages 15 to 18. Take a look at the website for the full list of fun.

potters wheel

NSCAD opens the doors for Artist for a Day — it’s a full day of hands-on artmaking. Photo by Lianne Sarson.

Speaking of fun, NSCAD’s hugely popular Artist for a Day is set for Saturday, May 13, 10 am to 3 pm. More than 20 hands-on art-making activities are in the works, including some of the favorites—such as life drawing and fish printing—that draw people year after year.

Most of the action takes place at our Port Campus (1107 Marginal Road) although our Port neighbours are in on the fun too. Other sites for Artist for a Day include: Discovery Centre, 1215 Lower Water Street; Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design, 1096 Marginal Road; Mary E. Black Gallery, 1061 Marginal Road; Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, 1055 Marginal Road; and Visual Arts Nova Scotia, 1113 Marginal Road. NSCAD is pumped to be a participant in I LOVE Local’s Open City, a full day celebration of local food, fun and shopping.

In NSCAD’s 130th anniversary year I am so proud of all our accomplishments and accolades. A welcome to ALL to come join us and experience the creativity and our community.

My very best,

Dianne

P.S. In the photo at the top of this blog post, models go down the runway at Dialect: A NSCAD Fashion Show wearing jewellery by Tamika Knutson (BFA 2017). Tamika, who just graduated, already has a solo exhibition coming up. Boreal Reverie: Coming Home will open May 17 and run to June 4 at SOVA Gallery at the Yukon School of Visual Arts in Dawson City, Yukon. Congratulations Tamika!

One week at NSCAD

NSCAD students welcomed guests into the studios for Portfolio Day. Meghan MacDonald Photo.

NSCAD students welcomed guests into the studios for Portfolio Day. Meghan MacDonald Photo.

NSCAD’s Winter Portfolio Day was a wonderful, well-attended and engaging event! We welcomed prospective students, parents, friends, supporters and the simply curious to NSCAD last Saturday for a full day of tours, talks, interactive workshops and portfolio reviews. After a snowy week, even the weather cooperated!

Applying to an art and design university involves a different process compared to applying to other universities—and that difference is the portfolio requirement. A portfolio is a visual record of an individual’s curiosity, explorations, skills and knowledge.

At NSCAD, we understand that the idea of assembling a portfolio can be stressful. Moreover, it takes courage to show your creative work to someone outside of family—it’s personal and from the heart.

But the reason why the portfolio is an important part of the application process at NSCAD is that it shows us your potential, general level of curiosity and serious commitment to creative exploration, which is what four or five years at NSCAD are all about: trying, testing, risking, exploring and perhaps scrapping it all and starting over. Believe me, after doing a degree at NSCAD, our students are well versed in creative problem solving!

The portfolio requirement is the main reason for NSCAD’s Portfolio Day, a kind of open house we hold twice a year. We sincerely want to help prospective students put their best work forward. Other ways we can help are through the Portfolio Prep classes offered through our School of Extended Studies (a new online class just started) and through the advice of our staff in the Admissions Office. Give them a call at 902-494-8259.

alumni panel

Members of our NSCAD alumni panel included Mimi Fautley, Melissa Townsend, Alison Knott, Mary Garoutte, Duane Jones, and Geordan Moore.

Before changing the topic from Portfolio Day, I want to say thank you to NSCAD alumna Alison Knott (BDes 2007), the Halifax freelance designer who organized and moderated the afternoon panel discussion “A Future in Art: Catching up with NSCAD Alumni.” I also want to thank the NSCAD alumni who contributed to the panel, including Mimi Fautley (BFA 1998), owner of The Loop, a yarn and modern fibre store; Melissa Townsend (BFA 2005), a painter; Duane Jones (BDes 2004), a records analyst for Dalhousie Medical School’s Dean’s Office and fashion designer of the line Art Pays Me; Mary Garoutte (BFA 2004), a painter and arts administrator at Zwicker’s Gallery in Halifax; and Geordan Moore (BDes 2007), silk screen printer, designer and owner of the Quarrelsome Yeti. The question Alison posed to the panel participants was “What can one do with a degree in art and design?” The answer, as articulated so thoughtfully and in different ways, is that earning a degree from NSCAD allows you to live your passion while giving you a career that is creative, thoughtful, enjoyable and entrepreneurial.

Feb 18  What a great discussion!

Feb 18 I had a great time! Thanks for the invitation

Feb 18 Portfolio Day panel was so powerful. Thx Melissa and Mary! Such insight!

Ruby Boutilier from the Admissions Office welcomes prospective students, parents, friends and supporters to NSCAD for Portfolio Day.

Ruby Boutilier from the Admissions Office welcomes prospective students, parents, friends and supporters to NSCAD for Portfolio Day.

A big thank you to the team who contributed to a successful Portfolio Day—Terry Bailey, Ruby Boutilier, Katherine Sharpe, Meghan MacDonald, Ken Rice, Eric Miller, Justine Somogyi, Kathryn Toope, Siobhan Cleary, James Barmby, Marilyn Smulders and media services. Also to our faculty members Anna Sprague, Adrian Fish, Sarah Hartland Rowe, Glen Hougan and Craig Leonard. Thank you all.

Remember, the application deadline for scholarship consideration is March 1.

***

Pamela Ritchie

NSCAD Professor Pamela Ritchie is the winner of the 2017 Saidye Bronfman Award.

Another highlight of last week was the announcement that two NSCAD alumni will receive Canada’s highest honour for the arts – the Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts. Congratulations to NSCAD professor and jewellery artist Pamela Ritchie (BFA 1975, MFA 1982), the Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in Fine Craft Laureate, and painter Landon Mackenzie (BFA 1976) on receiving this prestigious recognition. The ceremony to confer the awards will take place at the Governor General’s residence, Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, on March 1. Other special events include “In Conversation with the GGArts Winners” at the National Gallery on Feb. 28, and the opening of a special exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on April 7.

The Saidye Bronfman Award is one of the eight Governor General’s Awards for Visual and Media Arts, specifically awarded for excellence in fine craft. This year, 2017, is an auspicious year for the award as it celebrates its 40th anniversary. In addition to Pamela Ritchie, many NSCAD alumni and faculty are among the exceptional artists to have received the Saidye Bronfman Award, namely jewellery artist Paul McClure (BFA 1989) in 2015; weaver and NSCAD teacher Sandra Brownlee (BEd, BFA 1971) in 2014; ceramic artist Greg Payce (MFA 1987) in 2013; goldsmith Charles Lewton-Brain (BFA 1978) in 2012; metalsmith and NSCAD professor Kye-Yeon Son in 2011; and ceramic artist and NSCAD professor emeritus Walter Ostrom in 2003.

All of us at NSCAD are so proud!

painting

Landon Mackenzie, a painter and professor at Emily Carr University, is a winner of the 2017 Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts.

***

One week at NSCAD holds a lot! Last week, we also held our Donor Appreciation Event, cheekily named Donors & Doughnuts. This event brings together donors to the school and the benefactors of their largesse—student scholarship and bursary recipients. Third-year ceramics student Elsa Brittin spoke about what receiving a scholarship meant to her and touched all of us with her gratitude and sincerity.

Even on a snowy Thursday evening, we had a full house, including Mayor Mike Savage and many members of the NSCAD Board of Governors. Our hosts for the evening were the students and faculty of the Ceramics Department at the Port Campus. Thanks to them for such a warm welcome.

Feb 16 The world needs more artists now more than ever. Always love visiting , great to meet students, scholarship winners tonight.

As befitting an event called Donors & Doughnuts, there were some excellent gourmet doughnuts! The salted caramel doughnuts were a particular delight.

Photos by NSCAD student Erica Flake.

An opportunity for emerging artists

Looks like the Province of Nova Scotia is catching up to us. It’s just announced that it will bring in a new February holiday starting next year and the first occasion will honour Viola Desmond. In succeeding years, Nova Scotia students will suggest a permanent name for the new holiday and give ideas for the next 12 people to be honored.

Anna Leonowens would be a good choice—just a thought.

In any case, I trust our staff had a relaxing NSCAD Day. And, I hope our students have a safe and productive study break.

I wanted to tell students about some of the efforts we’ve made to lessen the impact of the closing of Seeds Gallery. The gallery, which serves students and alumni, will close on March 31.

We’ve signed an agreement with Art Sales and Rental Gallery, the commercial gallery associated with the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. The Hollis Street gallery is very open to carrying the artwork of NSCAD students and a new website will make that even easier. Recently, Mark Bovey, chair of Fine Arts, Rory MacDonald, chair of Craft, and I met with Andrea Smith, the gallery’s executive director, and a few of its dedicated volunteers, who are all very enthusiastic NSCAD supporters.

With its new website (yet to be launched), the gallery will be able to carry up to five pieces per student. Artworks can be in a variety of media, including sculpture, ceramics, painting, prints, drawings and textiles. All the work submitted goes before the gallery’s Accessions Committee for acceptance. If sold through the gallery, the student would receive 65 per cent of the purchase price, with the gallery getting the remaining 35 per cent.

Students who are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity should get in touch with ASAR by email (asar@gov.ns.ca) or make an appointment to drop by in person by calling 424-3087. For further information, see the gallery’s Guidelines to Submit.

I want to thank Art Sales and Rental Gallery for already being so supportive of student and alumni artists. The gallery is now hosting an exhibition by three young alumni—Jimy Sloan, Hangama Amiri and Samantha Battaglia. All three artists have been artistic residents with our NSCAD Community Studio Residencies; in fact, Samantha is now a resident with the Lunenburg program. Their show is called This is the Canadian Earth and it’s on display until the end of the month. It’s a beautiful show, which arts reporter Elissa Barnard reviewed in The Chronicle Herald last week.

We’ve been also talking to other local galleries about carrying student work and we are working on organizing a large show and sale of art and craft by students and alumni at the end of the fall 2014 term for the Christmas gift-buying season. We’ll have more details on that as the time approaches.

Senior administration continues to work on peeling back assumptions contained in the space utilization study to assist the Board of Governors in reaching decisions on optimizing space at our three campuses. Meanwhile, the consultants working on the affiliation study are in the final stages of preparing cost scenarios for affiliation with either Saint Mary’s University or Dalhousie University. Recall that our Board has stated that affiliation will only be considered if there are demonstrated cost savings in the short- and long-term futures. Finally, stay tuned for important calls for input by your strategic planning committee led by Board vice chair Julia Dexter and announcements of a short list from our Presidential Search Committee.

In the meantime, I wish all good health and energy to push into the second half of the academic term.

Winter painting

The image used in the header above is a detail from “Winter, Northwest Arm” by Elizabeth Styring Nutt. Painted in 1927 while she was principal of the Nova Scotia College of Art, Miss Nutt had only recently changed the name of the school from the Victoria School of Art and Design and given the school a new motto, “Heart and Head and Hand.” (Elizabeth Styring Nutt,” Winter, Northwest Arm,” 1927.  Oil on canvas, 63.6 x 76.1 cm, Collection of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Gift of Robert L. Stanfield, Ottawa, Ontario, in memory of Mary Hall Stanfield, 1979)

 

 

 

Making strides

As we reflect on the end of another academic year, we have much to be thankful for at NSCAD. Of course, I am aware of the many challenges we have faced, but the true test of our institutional resilience is not the number of challenges but the quality of our response.  In a nutshell, our collective response to our various challenges has, in my estimation, been nothing short of remarkable.

Artist for a Day

Artist for a Day, held May 11th at the Port Campus, was a wonderful event, showing NSCAD as an active community partner. The ceramics studio was just one of many busy spots. (Steve Farmer Photo)

Consider the list:

  • Board governance overhaul;
  • stellar 125 anniversary celebrations and special events;
  • receipt of government funding for the affiliation and space studies (and on our terms);
  • completion of two mandated reports to government – Institutional Outlook Report and a second sustainability report;
  • successful contract negotiations with our two teaching units;
  • harmonization of relations with the Province;
  • five highly successful events – launch of the I AM NSCAD campaign, Starfish Student Art Awards, Artist for a Day, the launch of the 2013 Graduation Catalogue and the Graduation ceremony;
  • increased positive community profile as evidenced by positive media reporting (see list below of stories in the media gathered in a two-week period);
  • launch of a strategic planning process;
  • and perhaps most important, over achievement of deficit reduction goals.
Anna Leonowens Gallery

The launch of the 2013 Graduation Catalogue at the Anna Leonowens Gallery on May 17 was a celebratory event. (Marilyn Smulders Photo)

I continue to believe that our ultimate strength as an institution (program excellence notwithstanding) depends on our ability to demonstrate financial sustainability – and we are well on our way to doing this. The fiscal environment in which we find ourselves, combined with an activist government funding partner makes financial sustainability a primary concern.

By way of future plans, we will need to invest greater effort in building internal consensus among our various stakeholder groups. A major first initiative in this regard is the strategic re-visioning process proposed by our Strategic Planning Committee. The process will be guided by engagement principles which are intended to mobilize participation by all in our school community.

Starfish Awards

Chatting with Teto Elsiddique, one of 10 finalists, at the Starfish Student Art Awards on May 2. (Luke Clarridge Photo)

Looking further, we can expect a busy summer as we receive the reports of our two consultant-led studies, which will trigger important decisions on our institutional future.  We also begin early work on the strategic planning initiative; firming up board governance change recommendations; and finally, initiate a university-wide campaign to meet our student enrolment objectives.

As I conclude, I am reminded that I had every belief that this would be my last blog post as president, but as you are aware, my departure plans have been delayed, so I will save reminisces and reflections for a later time.  In its place, I should like to close with a wish to all for a healthy, restful and safe summer.

Best wishes,

Dan

P.S. Here is only a sample of the media coverage NSCAD, alumni and students received over the past month. Highlights include the nationwide opening of NSCAD grad Jason Buxton’s feature film Blackbird (which has since won an award at Cannes Ecrans Junior), Artist for a Day and Open City, the Starfish Awards and a collaboration between NSCAD’s Design Division and the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.

 

 

Autumn update

It’s been awhile since I last made a post—so let’s get right to it.

So hard to decide! They were all so interesting.

Hungry Bowls

Students in the ceramics department did a terrific job with Hungry Bowls, the fundraiser in which you buy a bowl of delicious soup and get to take home the bowl. Approximately 250 people took in the event on Thursday, Oct. 25, many of whom bought extra bowls when they just couldn’t decide on one. More than $7,000 was raised for Adsum House and Hope Cottage. Many people need to be thanked for this wonderful event—the students, the staff and faculty, as well as the restaurants which so generously donated soup and bread.

Enrolment

After the usual fluctuation in enrolment numbers, I can now report the following: our full-time undergraduate has decreased by 26 students or -3.3 per cent. Our graduate enrolment has increased by two students (29 total) or +7.4 per cent. Our total full-time enrolment, undergraduate and graduate, stands at 797, which is 24 fewer students than last year, or a 2.9 per cent decrease.

Visa student enrolment presents a more positive picture. We registered 28 more students than last year or a 31.1 per cent increase which is the highest percentage increase in the Atlantic region. We now have 118 visa students at NSCAD.

Interestingly, our full-time first year enrolment is up by 16 students or 13.9 per cent. This increase is offset by a decrease in new transfer students—down 16 students.

Comparatively, NSCAD did relatively well this year. Undergraduate enrolment in the Atlantic region was virtually flat (.4 per cent increase). Seven universities recorded decreases with full-time students and eight regional universities recording decreases with part-time students. In both cases, NSCAD’s decreases were not the worst.

Of the 16 regional universities, only five universities recorded increases in full-time first-year enrolment—with NSCAD reporting the highest increase.

In summary, we missed some targets and exceeded others. In the months ahead, we will give priority to refining and increasing our recruitment efforts with the aim of reversing overall trends and expanding opportunities in areas in which we have experienced growth.

Framework for Sustainability

We are still awaiting decisions from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education on several fronts, including support for early retirement incentive funding; a cost/benefit study on affiliation with either Saint Mary’s University or Dalhousie; and a thorough space utilization study.

With luck, we should have clarification from the Province on these issues by early November.

Meetings

Over the past month, I have represented NSCAD at numerous meetings and events, notably CONSUP (Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents), AAU (Association of Atlantic Universities), AUCC (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada) and AICAD (Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design). The latter meeting was very beneficial as I was able to learn of experiences and challenges facing art and design schools across the continent. I was particularly interested in an AICAD initiative which may have immediate benefit for NSCAD. AICAD is in the final stages of a rebranding and communications project which will advance the value of all art and design schools. While developed primarily for an American audience, I can see many applications to our efforts to revise and update our recruitment and communication materials.

Kudos

Range Light

NSCAD professor Kim Morgan won the Masterworks Art Award for Range Light, Borden-Carleton.

Several of our NSCAD faculty members and alumni did very well at the Creative Nova Scotia bash on Saturday, Oct. 27. Professor Kim Morgan, a sculptor and installation artist, won the big prize, the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Art Award for her work of art, Range Light Borden-Carleton PEI. This incredible work is now on display as part of Oh, Canada at MASS MoCA in the U.S.; it was created in the summer of 2010 with the help of a crew of NSCAD students and is an actual latex cast of a decommissioned range light.

Other NSCAD alumni winners on Saturday include: Sandra Brownlee, an RPT appointee in Textiles/Fashion, receiving $3,000 as a finalist for the Masterworks Art Award; Sarah Maloney, who teaches part-time in NSCAD’s Foundation program, recognized with a $5,000 Established Artist Recognition Award; and Thom Fitzgerald, filmmaker and playwright, awarded the $18,000 Portia White Prize.

Rod McDonald and Hanno Ehses, who have both taught in NSCAD’s Design Division, have been recognized as fellows of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada. Hanno is the former head of the design department and retired in 2010. Rod is a typeface designer who is currently travelling across the country giving a series of lectures on typography. He designed NSCAD’s fonts Granville and Duke.

Movie poster

Jason Buxton's debut feature Blackbird was also a winner at the Toronto and Vancouver filmfests.

Films Gravity and Grace by NSCAD prof. Sol Nagler and Blackbird by Jason Buxton were two of the big winners at the Atlantic Film Festival. Jason Buxton (BFA 2003), who cited the influence of the late Jerry Ferguson in an acceptance speech, won three awards – best director, best Atlantic feature, and best screenplay. Jeff Wheaton won for best cinematography for his work on Gravity and Grace.

Outstanding students Claudia Legg and Halley Davies and several faculty and staff members were honored during the NSCAD Welcome and Awards Reception, held Wednesday, Sept. 26 at the Port Campus. Claudia was recognized with the Lieutenant Governor’s Volunteerism Metal and Halley won the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence.

Wrapping up

As I close this blog entry, I would like to remind everyone of the fundraising campaigns in progress at this time—namely the 125 Challenge for the Annual Fund and the United Way campaign. Both campaigns are important and deserving of our collective attention.

Until next time,

Dan

Celebrating Anna’s legacy

I have to tell you the truth. Before I arrived at NSCAD, I couldn’t tell you who Anna Leonowens was, much less pronounce her name. I still stumble over it.

But this weekend, our 125th anniversary celebrations really heat up with a suitably arty tribute to Anna Leonowens, founder of the Victoria School of Art and Design (now NSCAD). The alumni association has enlisted a veritable army of volunteers—students, alumni, faculty and friends—to put Anna’s face on the side of Citadel Hill. Called “ANNAmotion LOGOmotion,” this image of Anna will be created in 572 giant hand painted squares. It’s based on the portrait of Anna by Robert Harris, which is in the collection of the Confederation Centre Art Gallery and has recently arrived at our own Anna Leonowens Gallery for the historical art exhibition opening on Friday.

Anna Leonowens

This portrait of Anna Leonowens will be on display as part of the exhibition Presence at the Anna Leonowens Gallery.

Look for Anna’s face to appear on Citadel Hill when the cannon blows at noon.

But that’s not all. After Anna makes her grand appearance, all the pixels will turn over to create the beautiful 125th anniversary logo which was designed by NSCAD grads Akshay Tyagi and Harry Olsen. Then, the participants will make their way down Duke Street to Granville Mall for another appearance of the 125th anniversary logo and a big group photo. Sounds fun!

In the evening, Granville Mall will transform into a concert venue. East coast performers Buck 65, Matt Mays, Ria Mae, Ghettosocks, Tanya Davis and Acres & Acres are performing and CBC Radio Host Craig Norris is hosting. General admission tickets are $30 and VIP tickets are $125; they’re available online at http://125nscad.eventbrite.ca/  All the proceeds go to NSCAD’s Annual Fund.

And while you’re here at NSCAD on the weekend, make sure to visit the Anna Leonowens Gallery. There will be three anniversary-related exhibitions on display: Presence, historic views of NSCAD; Corrections by former NSCAD president Garry Neill Kennedy; and The King and I: Reprise, a group show and contemporary art bar. Also going on is the 24-Hour Filmfest taking place at the Bell Auditorium. It starts Friday, Sept. 21 at 5 p.m. with Exit Through the Gift Shop and finishes on Saturday, Sept. 22 with Anna and the King at 3:30 p.m. Here’s the full line-up:

Friday, September 21
5 pm – Exit Through the Gift Shop
6:35 pm – Frida
8:45 pm – Coco Before Chanel
10:35 pm: In the realms of the unreal: The mystery of Henry Darger
12 am: Midnight in Paris

Saturday, September 22
1:35 am: Holy Mountain
3:40 am: Russian Ark
5:20 am: Pollack
7:25 am: Mona Lisa Smile
9:25 – 9:50 am: BREAKFAST WITH Basquiat
9:50 am: Basquiat
10:40 am: How to draw a bunny
1:45 pm: Girl with a Pearl Earring
3:30 pm: Anna and the King

Jodie as Anna

Jodie Foster plays Anna Leonowens in the 1999 film, Anna and the King.

We’re pleased to welcome Anna Leonowens’ descendants who will be coming for the weekend. Anna’s great grandson Louis Leonowens will be joining us from Guatemala City and Anna’s great great grand-daughter Lucy will be coming from San Diego. What a thrill for us to show off to them the school Anna envisioned 125 years ago.

By the way, The Chronicle Herald gave us some magnificent coverage in Wednesday’s paper on Anna Leonowens’ legacy and the weekend’s activities. Reporters Lois Legge and Elissa Barnard did tag-team coverage, with stories “Leonowens gets royal treatment” and “NSCAD plans ANNAversary weekend festivities.”

I must express my appreciation to everyone who has pitched in with the planning and to the performers who are so generously donating their time and talent to our school. Thanks so much.

That's McCain scholar Meaghan Bissett and me at the opening of First Impressions. The exhibition continues at the Port Loggia Gallery until September 30. (Eliot Wright Photo)

September is certainly busy around here. I met many talented scholarship winners at the opening of First Impressions on Sept. 5 and attended the ceremony to designate the Granville block as a national historic site on Sept. 13. Upcoming  is the Faculty and Staff Welcome and Awards Reception on Sept. 26. It starts at 11:45 a.m. at the Port Campus. See you there.

Stepping into summer

Here I am, a month later, still finding myself occasionally lost in a strange hallway or stairwell. But I’ve been having a grand time—thanks to everyone for the warm welcome.

I can’t remember ever having so many meetings, but then there’s a lot for me to catch up on. I’ve met with members of SUNSCAD, FUNSCAD, the board executive and senior staff—not to mention donors, government reps and reporters. So you might say I’m rapidly expanding my understanding of NSCAD. It’s been heartening to hear about NSCAD as I’ve been out and about, introducing myself and talking up the university; there’s a lot of interest and goodwill out there for NSCAD and our students past and present.

One of the big things on my plate is the Framework for Sustainability. There’s still been no substantial response from the government, other than ‘go ahead and do what you can do on your own and we’ll examine your proposals in more detail.’ We take that to mean ‘Proceed with Plan A of your Framework for Sustainability.’

NSCAD’s 2012-2013 operating budget, which we presented to the Board of Governors this week, does exactly that. Under Plan A, we’ve been able to trim the operating deficit by almost half—a substantial improvement from the 2011-12 budget which put NSCAD in the red by $2.6 million. We’ve done this by some belt-tightening: by offering fewer multi-section classes and under-enrolled required classes less frequently, imposing a university-wide spending freeze, and not replacing all positions when they become vacant (some, of course, such as the registrar and head librarian will need to be replaced). Other aspects of the budget include a three per cent tuition hike, approved by the provincial government under the MOU with all Nova Scotia universities, and the introduction of three student fees (a facility fee of $45/semester, a technology renewal fee of $50/semester, and a one-time graduation fee of $50.)

One other aspect of the Framework for Sustainability is also going ahead and that is to seek out collaborations with other Nova Scotia universities. We’ve made an application through the Department of Labour and Advanced Education for funding to engage arm’s length consultants to conduct a comprehensive cost benefit study to align closer with Dalhousie or Saint Mary’s. Such a study would compare the academic and research synergies of a closer association, benefits to students, potential facilities improvements and cost efficiencies. I’ll let you know more when there’s news on that front.

Some good news to share: student enrolment in the fall appears to be on par with fall 2011, even a little ahead. As of this point, the number of acceptances (student who have applied and offered acceptance) exceeds the number recorded at the same time last year. However, the number of registrants is down slightly. I’ve asked Kenn Honeychurch, VP Academic, to reach out to those students who have accepted but not yet registered. It certainly speaks to the excellence of NSCAD’s reputation and programs that enrolment has not been adversely affected by all the publicity over the past year. Terry Bailey, the Director of Admissions and Enrolment Services, says he’s been seeing some very strong portfolios and reading compelling admissions essays. I look forward to meeting some of these students myself in the fall.

Some more good news: the NSCAD Alumni Association has some very ambitious plans to celebrate NSCAD’s 125th anniversary in the fall. I invite you to circle the weekend of September 21-23 on your calendar right now. There’s going to be historical exhibitions, a big concert called the “Back to School Special” and a group performance that Linda Hutchison in University Relations has dubbed “ANNAmotion-LOGOmotion” and involves creating Anna Leonowens’ likeness on the side of Citadel Hill. Not sure how that’s going to work, but I sure am interested to see it happen. Members of the alumni association had their Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, June 27 and I took the opportunity to meet with them.  Afterwards, I popped in next door where a reception was being held to congratulate Eleanor King, acting director of the Anna Leonowens Gallery, as a finalist for the Sobey Art Award. I am continually humbled by the accomplishments of NSCAD faculty, staff and students; what an amazing place this is.

So that’s it for now. Enjoy the summer weather whenever it gets here!

Notes from the fourth floor

Greetings,

Welcome to my blog. I’ve never had one before but I thought this might be a good way to introduce myself and let you know what I’ve been up to since I arrived at NSCAD University about three weeks ago.

Did I say three weeks? The time has flown by as I’ve become more acquainted with ongoing issues at the university and met with stakeholders both on and off campus.

In saying hello, I must bid adieu to two important members of our NSCAD team: Laurelle LeVert, NSCAD’s Registrar and Director of Student Services, who is taking a position at the University of New Brunswick, and Tanja Harrison, University Librarian, who has already started at Mount Saint Vincent University. All the best to you both — you will be missed here at NSCAD!

There is, of course, one big file that is getting my attention and that is NSCAD’s Framework for Sustainability, which was prepared for the Department of Labour and Advanced Education at the end of March. In the coming days and weeks, I will be re-examining the plan in consultation with senior staff and the Board of Governors to decide how to proceed while we await the government’s official response. Some aspects, however, are already in play. You may notice that the university is getting some new tenants at the Granville campus; that is part of a plan to bring in new revenue by maximizing the campus’s rental potential.

I’ve arrived at a wonderful time for the university. NSCAD has been getting some terrific exposure in the media for two events in particular: Artist for a Day which happened on the Halifax waterfront on May 12 and the opening of Oh, Canada at MASS MoCA (the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) in North Adams, Mass., on May 26th weekend. I’ve heard nothing but raves for Artist for a Day, which turned into such a great family event for Halifax. No doubt some of the kids who had their hands in clay, hammed it up in front of the green screen or watched the steamroller press a print that day will be applying to become NSCAD students in a few years.

NSCAD should be justly proud of its representation in Oh, Canada, the largest exhibition of Canadian contemporary art north or south of the border in years. One-third of the artists and curators at the show have NSCAD connections—which speaks to the university’s incredible role in shaping generations of artists and critical thinkers.

“I remember when I was in college, in grad school, I remember hearing about this place called NSCAD,” said Oh, Canada curator Denise Markonish, in an interview with CBC Radio. “So when I started doing the show and I discovered it for myself, (I realized) what an amazing legacy this place has had. It’s unbelievable that a college like this exists that has bred generation after generation of phenomenal artists. I’m really proud of having all these NSCAD connections here.”

Linda Hutchison, director of University Relations, alumni & development, tells me it felt like old home week at MASS MoCA since there were so many familiar faces there, including alumni and faculty members past and present. I should mention that Linda was able to organize an alumni event during Oh, Canada’s opening weekend through the generosity of NSCAD board member Rob Dimitrieff (BFA 2003). A big thank you to Rob. I wasn’t able to make the opening myself, but the show will be up for almost a year so there’s plenty of time to make plans for a visit.

As for this blog, I hope to update it regularly and let you know what I’m up to. Throughout the summer, I hope to meet with faculty and staff in small groups to introduce myself and to find out more about the programs at NSCAD. I’ve got a lot to learn and I want to listen to what you say.

In the meantime, if you see me in the hall or in the elevator, please say hello. I’m the guy in the suit (at least until July). Or, come up to the fourth floor anytime. I’m looking forward to meeting you.

Until next time,

Dan