The Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton (PACE) is canvassing all candidates in the 2017 Edmonton civic election to determine their views and positions of various arts and culture issues in our city. The responses I submitted to PACE are below, and will be available at: http://www.pacedmonton.com.
1. Do you feel the city does enough to encourage and support an active arts sector?
The vibrant arts and culture community in Edmonton is reflected in the “City of Festivals” title. The Edmonton Arts Council plays an important role in promoting local artists and their contribution to vibrant communities and the local economy, key pillars of my campaign platform. We need to continue to support these fundamental initiatives for the arts, which in turn build our pride in our city. We also need to consult with artists about what their needs are, and continue to value what they bring to our city.
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2. What would you change in the city's current approach?
I would adopt a more community-driven approach—giving more voice to the marginalized and vulnerable populations, who may not be professionals but are creating art nonetheless. More consultation with the arts community would help to explore opportunities to grow the arts and culture scene in our city.
3. Do you support the city’s purchase and display of public art through the Percent for Art program (this provides 1% of the construction budget of publicly accessible buildings in Edmonton to buying public art)? If not, please explain why not.
I support the Percent for Art program. I believe that art is an important part of creating vibrant and healthy communities, as well as preserving the rich culture that the many diverse people of Edmonton bring to their communities. The City could adjust their public art procurement and commission practices by purchasing or commissioning art from Edmonton artists, rather than going outside. The consultation process could be improved by including a more diverse group of jurors in the selection process.
4. Appropriate facilities to support Edmonton's arts and culture industries are critical to our city's growth and development in this area. The creation of specific districts to support certain kinds of Arts, such as music districts, has been adopted in some cities to foster growth of cultural industries. How would you propose supporting the creation of dedicated arts districts?
I would like to see facilities throughout the city to promote access. For example, I would support a multicultural arts centre in Mill Woods. Given the diversity in Mill Woods, I would like to see an intercultural approach to programming this space. While many cultural groups have their own facilities, we don’t have many spaces where we can come together to collaborate, share our experiences, and identify common ground. With the coming of the Valley Line LRT, a centrally located, transit-accessible facility in Mill Woods would be well used.
5. In the province's current economic situation, the city's resources are stretched. In this climate, how important is it for the city to financially support new arts facilities and activities?
When economies are stretched, a vibrant arts and culture community becomes even more important. The celebration of arts and culture from all aspects of our city is a central driver for creating community and cohesiveness. There are many venues in Edmonton that could be repurposed to provide spaces for arts and cultural activities. This would require some investment, but the most important resource needed is our imagination to re-create these spaces.
6. Beyond the scope of the questions above, do you have other thoughts as to how you would continue to enhance arts and culture in our city?
I would work to make arts and culture more accessible to youth and to Edmonton’s marginalized communities, who have much to offer in the development of public art. Many community organizations, such as iHuman, already have strong art programs with youth. I would support forming more collaborations among community groups, the Edmonton Arts Council, and local professional and community artists, in the development of public art.
I would encourage the City to create more opportunities for Indigenous and newcomer artists. From my work with multicultural communities, I know that there is a lot of untapped talent in this city, and building more bridges between our multicultural arts communities and “mainstream” arts communities will make Edmonton’s arts scene even more dynamic than it is today.
7. What would you advocate to ensure that training in Fine Arts – music, dance, theatre, visual arts – is an integral part of the education of young Edmontonians?
I would support provincial initiatives in our school systems that embrace the arts as part of the curriculum, as well as access to affordable community classes in fine arts for children. Valuing arts and culture as a central part of what makes Edmonton such a great place to live, work, play, and raise our families should be at the centre of our policy-making decisions.
PART 2 (3 questions; received Sept. 25th)
Questions from the Edmonton Festivals Consortium:
1. What do you think it would take to make Edmonton a world class city?
I believe that Edmonton is a world class city. We have much to be proud of, including our designation as a “City of Festivals”. The world looks to us for our Edmonton International Fringe Festival and Heritage Festival; we have one of the most sophisticated waste treatment programs in the world; we have a river valley that is the envy of many other cities. We need to continue to grow what we have in responsible, meaningful ways.
2. What role do you see local Arts playing in helping to make Edmonton a world class city?
Local arts and culture are what makes us proud of our city and shape our collective identity as Edmontonians. This pride translates into an environment that makes our city livable, dynamic and welcoming. Local arts are critical in helping to make Edmonton a world class city. In addition to its amazing festival scene, we are home to many talented musicians, visual artists, dancers, and writers.
3. The City of Edmonton has supported such international sporting events as Festival International des Sports Extrêmes (FISE), ITU World Triathlon and the Tour of Alberta to place Edmonton on the national and world stage. Would you favour similarly supporting, pursuing and creating major national and international Arts showcases that would put Edmonton on the world stage as a centre of Arts and Culture?
Festivals and major showcases not only put Edmonton on the world stage, but are also important for boosting tourism and local economy. I would support Edmonton hosting major arts showcases.