In the kindest terms possible, Glodeane Brown wants to remind you that there is so much more to Waterloo Region’s culture than craft beer and tech.
Brown is well aware of the influence that the tech sector has in developing Waterloo Region’s external brand.
“A lot of the talk about creativity and innovation focuses on this sector,” she said. “I think it’s important to highlight stories of people who are doing things that aren’t tech-related.”
The Kitchener resident launched the popular blog Culture Fancier in 2016, to draw attention to artists and art shows of all stripes in Waterloo Region and beyond.
“People were always coming to me to know what was happening,” she said.
Born in Jamaica, Brown moved to Canada when she was young. She has been going to live arts shows for almost 25 years and studied art history in school. While she does her own collage and colouring work, she admits that she does not really aspire to have her own art shows.
Her passion instead is to use Culture Fancier as a vehicle for both the initiated and uninitiated to interact with the diversity of thought and expressions that exist in the world of art. She explained that this world is much more vast than most people realize, extending far beyond the museums and galleries that are already popular.
Through narrative storytelling, photojournalism and Q & A format interviews, Brown engages deeply with artists and the statements their work makes about our society. From her many interviews, Brown has gleaned significant wisdom about what it takes to turn being an artist into a viable business enterprise.
“A lot of artists I’ve interviewed say that people have this romantic vision of artists,” she said.
“You get up in the morning and you go straight to your easel drinking your French press coffee and you feel creative all day. But that’s not what it’s like. You’re working through e-mails, you’re checking social media, you’re networking, you’re invoicing, and you’re paying your bills. It’s everything and it’s hard work. You’re not just making art.”
Brown reminds us that when consuming and enjoying art, it is important to consider the grit and determination that it takes to be an artist.
“There’s always the joke that artists starve because they don’t know how to sell,” she said. “I think it’s important with any creative business, to remember that you have to learn the business side of it as well.”
One day, Brown hopes to put together a book about what she’s learned from the many individuals featured in Culture Fancier.
While Culture Fancier’s audience continues to grow, it remains a side hustle for Brown, who also runs her own Interior Design business in addition to being a freelance writer.
The blog has led to a variety of other writing contracts for Brown, acting as an excellent portfolio of both her writing and interviewing approach. Currently, she is an arts and culture columnist for Explore Waterloo Region, the public face of the Waterloo Regional Tourism Marketing Corporation.
Brown’s dream is to grow Culture Fancier to a point where it can finance trips abroad to do interviews with international artists. Last year, she was invited to cover a show for New York Fashion week, evidence that the blog’s reach is clearly growing.
“It makes me really happy to know that people are going to go to an art show or learning about a new kind of art or something that they never would have come across before if they had not found my blog,” Brown said.
“Go to shows. Spend time with artists. Figure out what you’re passionate about.”