Art Skate – an extraordinary event that The ARTS Project (TAP) hosted to coincide with the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario – attracted almost 2,000 visitors to see and buy fabulous skates, created in homage to 22 of the world’s top skaters. The silent auction was conceived to raise funds for TAP, London’s art incubator; to raise awareness about art in the City; and to provide a cultural outlet for visitors to London. It achieved all of those goals and created some emotional connections as well.
For Linda Ladouceur of Fort McMurry, Alberta, Arts Skate took the World’s to a whole new level. She has attended 17 events over the last 18 years and London’s were the fourth World Championships that she has observed. She enthuses, “We always check what is going on outside the arena in the city we are in. The Art Skate show was a great event and like nothing I’ve seen in all my travels over the years.” Linda was the successful bidder on two of the painted skate sculptures at the silent auction: the skate created in honour of Kaetlyn Osmond and the pair of skates created for London’s own Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir. “Kaetlyn is as close to local as we get in Fort McMurray. She has done so well and I love following these youngsters. Then having the opportunity to talk to the artist Sheri Cappa who created Scott and Tessa’s skates was wonderful and sealed the deal for me. London was such a great venue, with the market close by, so many great restaurants, and friendly people to top it off. No world event I have attended can compare with London’s!”
One set of the 22 skate sculptures was signed by Russian pair skaters Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, who won the gold medal at the competition. Attending the competition from Brooklyn, NY with his wife was figure skating fan Israel Evgeny Levin. Levin is a Russian ex-pat now living in the United States, who discovered the TAP fundraiser and decided to bid on the pair of skates signed by Volosozhar and Trankov. When he won the skates for $375 at 1 p.m. on the last day of the auction, he could not have known that later that afternoon the Russian pair would win the gold medal. Later that evening Levin returned to The ARTS Project to say he wanted to donate the skates he had just won to the Russian skaters as a gift for winning the pair’s competition.
Not knowing how to contact the Russian pair, TAP employee Richard Gilmore sent a quick e-mail to Bill Boland, Chair of the Local Organizing Committee to ask for his help in locating the stars. Bill, who was at the Budweiser Gardens watching the Men’s singles final, promptly replied on his BlackBerry that the Russians were staying at the Hilton and that the skates could be delivered to Volosozhar and Trankov’s Russian security team right away.
When Gilmore contacted Steve Tracy, the artist who decorated the skates, Steve and his wife Gert picked up the skates, leaving another function to do so, and hand delivered the skates –packed by Gilmore for travel – to the Russian delegation at the Hilton. Everyone was thrilled.
Quite apart from attracting so many visitors to the ARTS Project and raising $10,000, Art Skate also managed to spread London art to many corners of the world.
By Sheila Blagrave, Board member, The ARTS Project