Is ArtStars the Toronto Arts Scene Videocast We've Been Waiting For?

A friend of mine has repeatedly suggested what blogTO needs is a weekly arts videocast. In other words, something just like ArtStars*. This weekly look at the Toronto arts scene (focusing on gallery shows specifically) stars a pretty funny host in Nadja Sayej and fills a gaping hole in video-based coverage of the many captivating shows that sprout up across the city every week.

Founded in May, ArtStars* is now 11 videos in and has covered recent shows from artists ranging from Kris Knight and Jon Sasaki to Douglas Coupland.

The videos work because of the high (for the web) production quality. Aside from the host, there are four others who collaborate on each episode including Jeremy Bailey (Camera+Design), Ryan Edwards (Editor), Joshua Shier (Stylist) and Martin Gilbert (Makeup Artist).

Jeremy, who describes himself "like a digital Jim Henson meets hipster Pee Wee Herman" recently took a time out to fill me in on some salient details.

Why did you guys decide to start this?

Nadja came to me originally with the idea -- actually the day of the first episode we shot! She had a lot of experience in the news media (Globe, NYTimes, ArtUS) and saw an opportunity to cover the scene in a way that traditional outlets weren't capable or willing to do. From there we organically evolved the idea of a very short and entertaining vlog about the Art scene/culture.

How often do you create a new video?

Right now we're going for once a week. We usually shoot one or two events a week and then get tapes to our editor who takes about a week to turn an episode around.

Are you pleased with the response so far? Most videos seem to be getting between 300 and 600 views...

I think we're pleased, but certainly not satisfied... I'd like to see much larger numbers. We've intentionally kept things pretty low key during this whole "lab phase", but I think we're confident with the format now and have some ideas for other things we can do to mix it up, so I think we're ready for a launch party. Hopefully we can multiply the numbers by a factor of 10 by this time next year.

Are you going to try to secure funding (grants) or otherwise try to monetize this?

Right now we're just trying to get above negative. But yes, we're trying to find a way to secure financing so that we can spend more of our time doing this and increase the quality and breadth of the show. We have a modern view of monetization grants or otherwise.

What do you have planned for your next episode?

The next episode will be out this week, it involves the last Extermination Music Night party in the Don Valley. We Interview the organizers and some of the artists and performers involved.

Check out more ArtStars* on their YouTube Channel.


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