Art & Artists in Exhibition: Vancouver 1890 - 1950
Labour Arts Guild
July 1944 - 1947?
In 1944 the Labour Arts Guild held the
First Annual B.C. At Work
exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery. There were 153
artworks exhibited in the show. In 1945, there were 117 exhibitors and 204 entries
in the Second Annual B.C. At Work exhibition.
The following year the Guild asked the Art Gallery for a list of artists
who could be invited to participate in the Third Annual B.C. At Work
Exhibition. The Gallery provided the Guild with a list titled
"Leading Vancouver Artists". The third exhibition
was apparently not held.
The Guild's offices were at 641 Granville Street, Vancouver, in 1945, and its letterhead
listed John Goss as the Director and Julia Christensen as the Secretary-Treasurer.
Labour Arts Guild by Ruby M. Sutherland
Canadian Art magazine, October-November 1945, p. 6-9, 40; 3 illustrations
"The Labour Arts Guild, organized in July, 1944, under the direction
of John Goss, eminent musician and writer, was a community effort on the part of
workers in industry, business and in the various arts. It was designed to foster
closer co-operation between organized labor and those engaged in advancing the
progress of music, fine arts, literature and drama. The Labor Arts Guild held the
conviction that the Labor Movement has need of the artist to give voice, colour
and dramatic emphasis to labor's contribution to the cause of social welfare and
national unity. It is equally "convinced that workers in the arts, if they would
avoid isolation, futility and the shabby-genteel snobbery which in recent years has
come to be associated with artistic endeavour must place their talents at the
service of the politically and industrially conscious working people."
During the first eight months of the Guild's existence four major projects were
successfully undertaken. The first of these was a competitive Art exhibition,
B.C. At Work.
This was the first exhibition of its kind to be held in Canada and was unique in that
the subject matter of the competitive works dealt exclusively with the industrial
and working life of the Province through the media of painting, sculpture, drawing
and woodcarving. And for the first time in Canadian history, Trade Unions concerned
themselves with such matters by contributing over $600.00 in cash prizes.
Other completed projects of the Guild included a series of People's Concerts held
on Sunday evenings, an author's contest for the purpose of stimulating contemporary
Canadian writing of one-act plays, short stories and poems on democratic themes,
a stage production of Norman Corwin's famous radio drama, "Untitled". and a
full-length production of Hamlet.
The possibilities of the Guild with its backing from the Trade Unions could be of
immense significance in furthering the Arts in Canada. Unfortunately, the Labor
Arts Guild is not in operation at present."
A Short Art History of British Columbia, by
Charles H. Scott.
From Behind the Palette, 1946-17 issue, VSDAA.