Saturday 3 April 2010

Scotiabank makes CONTACT with the photography world -- the Toronto press conference

We are all photographers says Burtynsky


Scotiabank has upped the ante for the support of the arts ... again. On the last day of March, Scotiabank's public affairs department took over the uber-cool Nicholas Metivier Gallery on King Street in Toronto, to announce their title sponsorship of CONTACT, the World's Largest Photography festival and their creation of a yearly $50,000 cash and publishing award to a Canadian photographer.
"We are all photographers," said renowned Canadian photographer (and Ryerson Polytechnical Institute grad) Ed Burtynsky. " Canada is a nation of picture takers and CONTACT is a festival for all Canadians."
CONTACT, a not-for-profit organization based in Toronto has been celebrating the art of photography for 13-years. The association stages an annual month-long festival in May holding photography exhibitions at galleries and cafes throughout the city.
The Festival attracts both established photographers like Burtynsky and emerging photographers. Long on fans the Festival has traditionally been financially challenged, until now.
The Globe and Mail, one of the few media covering the press conference, reported that Scotiabank has long been a supporter, but now as the name sponsor its annual commitment to the Festival will be $150,000 a year beginning immediately. An additional annual $50,000 cash prize and a pre-negotiated book publishing deal (Steidl)will be handed out annually beginning in 2011.
The addition of the CONTACT Festival gives Scotiabank name recognition in the arts throughout the spring, summer and fall here in Toronto. Other festivals here in Toronto that have name sponsorship from the bank include: Scotiabank United Way Rat Race (June) Scotiabank Caribana (July 15 to August 2), Scotiabank Buskerfest (August), Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (September), the all night Nuit Blanc (October),the Scotiabank Giller Prize (October/November) and the Christmas Cavalcade of Lights (November / December).
The creation of a $50,000 annual prize for a photographer immediately vaults the award into the same class as the $50,000 Giller, the $80,000 Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry, the $25,000 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction and the Royal Bank's $25,000 Canadian Painting Competition.
"Canadian photography has reached a level that deserves to be recognized here in Canada, after all, photography - like all visual art -- is about communication," said Jane Nokes, Scotiabank Director of Corporate Archives and Fine Art. "Through the establishment of this Scotiabank Photography Award, we are helping engage Canadians in the photographic art scene and reward outstanding photographers for their contributions, a further support to their careers."
In announcing the new Photography Award, Burtynsky admitted that the details about the $50,000 prize are not available. "This is the framework" he said. "Stay tuned (for the small print)."
Burtynsky told the press conference attendees that in the first 20-years of his career he didn't have a published book of his work. Even though he didn't realize it then, the lack of a book hurt his career ... people upon seeing his work were suprised that they had never heard of him. After his first book was published, his fame spread around the world.
The power of the published book on the career of a photographer is one of the reason's that Burtynsky has gotten involved in the Photography Award. He will be one of three judges to hand out the yearly prize of $50,000 and the book deal with his European publisher.
The funding that Scotiabank is providing has allowed CONTACT to expand the content and the look of its website. For a preview of the first festival that is to bear the Scotiabank name visit

CUTLINE: TOP: Ed Burtynsky,one of Canada's most successful landscape photographers, speaks at a morning press conference held inside the Nicholas Metivier Gallery, in Toronto.
BELOW:Scotiabank's Jane Nokes, watches from the wings as artist Ed Burtynsky speaks to the media.