The first Cayman Art Week launches on 7 July, designed to support local artists and give them more exposure in the community.
Running through 10 July, it will feature a programme of art exhibition tours, gallery events and open studios. The project seeks to raise visibility of the arts sector through a joined-up platform connecting collectors directly with creators.
Project founder and creative director Natalie Urquhart is already well-known in the Caymanian creative sector, leading the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands for over a decade. Cayman Art Week is a personal project developed in response to what Urquhart sees as a need for a central, collaborative ‘hub’ to share information about Cayman’s commercial art sector.
“Cayman Art Week (CAW) aims to shine a light on the vibrant gallery and studio sector through a comprehensive website, interactive art map and week-long celebration that encourages the sale of art,” Urquhart said in a press release.
She chose to bring the launch date forward in response to conversations with colleagues and creatives.
“The small creative business owners, who are all heavily reliant on the hospitality sector, have seen their incomes severely impacted by the pandemic. Their venues and the artists that they represent contribute significantly to the unique cultural wealth of the Cayman Islands, and they remain at risk while the sector begins to rebound.
“CAW hopes to help sustain the local arts community while we wait for borders to reopen,” she added.
The long-term idea for Art Week is to develop a cultural tourism product that can attract international collectors; however, this first edition will function exclusively on a local scale because of ongoing travel restrictions.
Many venues have confirmed their participation, with more expressing interest. These range from long-running art galleries to cutting-edge spaces and start-ups. Several artists are also hosting pop-up exhibitions at other notable locations.
The initiative has received support from several individuals and organisations, including Provenance Properties Cayman Islands as a lead sponsor. This funding, coupled with the CAW team working in a voluntary capacity, has made it possible for all proceeds from the sale of featured artwork to go directly to the artists. It also ensures that CAW registration is free for all visitors and guests.
“It is my pleasure to support the inaugural edition of Cayman Art Week, a landmark initiative that provides the first joined-up platform through which to showcase Cayman’s vibrant gallery and studio scene,” said CAW patron Susan A. Olde. “Commercial galleries play a crucial role in our thriving art community by supporting emerging and established artists and facilitating the sale of their work.
“Cayman Art Week seeks to champion these efforts and to help ensure Cayman’s cultural landscape continues to thrive in these challenging times.”
The four-day schedule starts with an invitation-only launch event at Agua on Wednesday, 7 July, as well as ‘Going Live’ with the Gordon Solomon Studio on Facebook. The remainder of the week will focus on a different geographical concentration of galleries and studios daily, starting with the Seven Mile Beach area on Thursday, 8 July; George Town on Friday, 9 July; and the Eastern districts on the morning of Saturday, 10 July, followed by an art symposium at the National Gallery in the afternoon.
In Cayman Brac, the Solomon Studio will host special events throughout the week, and artist talks will take place in Little Cayman in partnership with the Little Cayman Museum. There will also be a tri-island ‘Open Studio Day’ on Saturday, 10 July, where artists across all three islands open their doors to the public. Lead CAW partner, George Town Revitalisation, which manages the largest concentration of creative spaces in Cayman, will host its new ‘Art in the City’ initiative that celebrates creativity across the town centre.
Following the annual event, the CAW website will continue to function as a ‘one stop’ place to access knowledge about how and where to buy Cayman artwork with featured local experts, blogs, and news about Caymanian art events.