News / Vancouver

Art that speaks to the conservationist’s heart

Science alone isn’t enough to get the public to buy into conservation efforts.

Without an emotional connection to nature, the environment and the animals that live within it, cries for change – no matter how rooted in fact – can go unheard.

That’s where wildlife and nature artists hope to fill the gap with the Artists for Conservation Festival, running Sept. 27 to Oct. 6 up on Grouse Mountain.

“We can connect with people on an emotional level,” said Artists for Conservation executive director Jeff Whiting. “Art adds the cultural elements to conservation, the pieces have the ability to resonate with the general public.”

This year, the festival (essentially an international-calibre nature art exhibit and sale, surrounded by 10-days of events for artists, collectors and the public) includes a ticketed all-day symposium Oct. 3 featuring representatives from some of the top conservation organizations (including World Wildlife Fund, Bateman Foundation and Pacific Wildlife Foundation) discussing regional issues like pipelines and protecting the Great Bear Rainforest.

Whiting hopes that by combining the passion of artists and the knowledge of experts, festival attendees will walk away with a deeper understanding of their connection to nature.

Dr. Rob Butler, of the Pacific Wildlife Foundation, says that while Vancouverites cherish their surroundings, conservation can struggle to make a cultural breakthrough.

“I don’t think people are taking environmental and wildlife for granted, but many can be hard pressed to name the plants and animals they see around them,” he said. “How is that not part of their schooling? We need to get out more and educate people.”

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