Friday, 25 June 2010

G20 - One Billion, The Arts - No Score. Ancient Terracotta Warriors will have to wait a bit longer to be discovered by the media

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G20 - One Billion, The Arts - No Score. Terracotta Warriors will have to wait to be discovered by the media

Everyone was there for the press preview of the Terracotta Warriors this morning at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.
There was the Cultural Minister from the British Columbia provincial government, Michael Chan, Ontario's provincial minister of culture and tourism, the head of the Vancouver Art Gallery, the head of the Glenbow Museum, the head of the Montreal Museum, vice president of the Bank of Montreal, a gaggle of high ranking Chinese government officials (and their translators) but, not counting the Chinese language TV and print, there was no mainstream media.
Good show. No Hollywood (like the Art Gallery of Ontario's Tut exhibition -- with the voice of Harrison Ford and movie set entrance doors), just a dynamic, well thought out and tastefully presented exhibition. The media should have lapped it up.
According to Wikipedia,"The Terracotta Army is the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shi Huang the First Emperor of China. The terracotta figures, dating from 210 BC, were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers near Xi'an, Shaanxi province, China near the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor.
"The figures vary in height (183–195 cm - 6 ft–6 ft 5in), according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots, horses, officials, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians. Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits."
The exhibition at the ROM has about a dozen statues of soldiers and horses on display. None of have been exhibited in Canada, some of them have never been shown before.
Why did every single English language TV station in the province give it a pass? G20 to blame. I had to walk through a wall of armed RCMP and plainsclothed CSIS officers behind the Continental Hotel to get to Bloor St and the museum.
"We are the only attraction between here and Front Street that is open right now," said William Thorsell,in referencing how the G20 has emptied Canada's busiest city.
The media hasn't left Toronto though. In fact, just as the ROM event was ending there was a demonstration by 100 women carrying 3 coffins and 3 coat hangers in Allen Gardens. News 680 radio reported that with so many foriegn journalists in town the camera crews and photographers covering the protest out-numbered the protestors.
The PR department at the ROM is not worried. They figure that the Teracotta Warrior story will stayed buried for so long. They expect that newsrooms will exhume their press invites early next week.

Cutline: Two Chinese visitors wait for the press preview of the Royal Ontario Museum's Terracotta Warrior exhibition to open. Although the press event was well covered by Canadian Chinese media TV and print reporters, no Ontario based English language TV or radio station covered this major exhibition.

Above: Terracotta Horse
Earthenware
Qin dynasty, 221-206 BC
Emperor Qin Shihuang's Terracotta Army Museum
Right:Terracotta Soldier (right)
Earthenware
Qin dynasty, 221-206 BC
Emperor Qin Shihuang's Terracotta Army Museum


Cell Phone Picture Right: Last press conference for William Thorsell? ROM CEO stands (2nd from left) on stage with a number of Chinese officials at the Friday opening of the museum's new show. Thorsell is expected to leave the museum later this month.

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