Introducing Canvas, the Arts Council-funded initiative on a mission to get young people interested in art. Using YouTube as a springboard and rallying support through Facebook and Twitter, Canvas produces and curates video content which promotes artists, exhibitions, events and performances all over the UK. We caught up with the channel’s creative director Drew Wolf to find out more.
Hi Drew. Tell us about Canvas’ purpose in the world…
The Canvas Channel is dedicated to making art relevant and inspiring to a youth audience. It is part of a wider project where we work with arts organisations around the country to develop their online audiences.
And what themes do you cover?
We aim to cover themes on Canvas that mirror the conversations and passion points of the youth audience today. Through our films we actively pair art and artists that produce work on themes like music, politics, equality, the environment and street culture to an audience that’s largely indifferent to “traditional” art.
Do you work exclusively with an in-house team?
For the most part we work with our streamlined in house team. We concept, direct, edit and manage our social channels in house.
Give us an insight into that process…
I think what’s interesting about our process is we look at potential filming opportunities more like collaborations. We sit down with artists and together approach each film with the intention of creating something unique that feels like an extension of the art or artist rather than an interview, studio visit or trailer. This challenges us to start from scratch on every project. The end results are entertainment pieces that work well for our channel are something the artist can feel is representative of their work.
How do you ensure that the content you create stays accessible to a young audience?
We have a two-pronged strategy: firstly we cover topics that a younger audience is interested in, subjects utterly relevant to their everyday lives. Secondly we execute videos using visual language and narratives they understand.
Tell us about three recent Canvas films you’d like to champion.
Voyage on the Planet: we worked with an amazing artist Chih Chiu and created a piece that speaks about the looming environmental crisis and the rise to power of Donald Trump. This film was a great example of taking one artist’s physical work (a perspex backpack with a plant and face mask) and bringing it to life with a simple narrative.
The Light Composer: this film is about an emerging musician and creative technologist Leaf Cutter John. Through a very technical process he is able to make electronic music by manipulating light. I think this is a good example of taking a very niche technical process and creating entertainment by making the film closer to a performance than an interview.
Mindfulmess: David Shillinglaw is an artists whose work features on the walls of almost every major city in the world. He was fantastic to work with and was nice enough to come and paint an amazing mural in our studio. The portrait he created in this film touches on a subject that often features in his work, mental health. We know that this is a very relevant conversation to our audience and we think this film adds a bit positivity and hope in the sharing of a complex issue.
Any films have you got in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
We have a lot in the pipeline at the moment as we’re currently publishing almost two films a week. One project we are particularly excited about is a collaboration with Huck magazine, which is a series of films we are calling Heightened Senses – Digital Art in a Physical World. In this series we will be working with three incredible female artists whose work is breaking boundaries and changing opinion on the relationship between tech and art.
Finally, what does art have to offer young people today?
I think young people today like generations before them seek identity and look for truth. The key difference being that this audience is bombarded with visual narratives in “content” they don’t seek and don’t relate to, making them conditioned to tune out more than ever before. Art for this audience is an opportunity to engage, be inspired and find their voice. In art, they find a sort of shared emotion… An expression of the human condition which in turn helps them know who they are. It’s their voice!
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