Sunday, September 11, 2011

For The Record

On Friday, September 2, in the lobby outside the Ledcor Theatre at the Art Gallery of Alberta, Hon. Rona Ambrose reaffirmed the Federal Government's support for the Arts through an announcement of grants to Edmonton Arts organizations from Canadian Heritage. Of course, all of these grants are via existing programs and there was no announcement of any new money for these programs or anything else. However, Minister Ambrose, in conversation with the writer and other Arts organization representatives, who expressed their sincere hope that at least current funding levels could be maintained in this climate of deficit-reduction, did say, "...and we will."

Let's all hope this will be true amid rumours of a 5-10% cut to Canadian Heritage...and across all government departments.

Advocacy and lobbying are well underway at the federal level. The Canadian Arts Coalition is working on its annual Arts Day On The Hill events and meetings and has also submitted a briefing to the Standing Committee on Finance , and both PACE and ArtsVote Calgary are working hard to let candidates for the leadership of the Alberta Conservatives know of the importance of the Arts not only to our quality of life, but to our economy and our society. Check out the websites of all of these organizations for information on their efforts, and in the case of PACE and ArtsVote Calgary, for notes on their conversations with leadership candidates of all political stripes.

It's a hugely busy time of year, with seasons and programs starting up after summer. If we can participate in whatever way we're able and encourage as many conversations as possible between our audiences, patrons, sponsors and their elected representatives on the importance of Art, we can minimize any damage and create a climate for progress in the future.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


I did not post in August, in large part because I took a longer holiday than normal, the better part of which was in Paris. I had never been and although I knew I was going to be blown away, I was still blown away by the sheer amount of awe an inspiration I encountered.

The city, of course, beautiful. The architecture, of course, stunning. The Arts, even in August, during the traditional "vacances," were incredible and beautiful. Here I was standing in the middle of a society that values the Arts as the thing that truly identifies itself - the thing that makes it "tick." Beauty and thought resonated everywhere, in everything. It was transcendent and it reminded me that such a society is possible and desirable and not a mere dream.

I was also so impressed by a society that didn't feel it had to be open for business 24/7. Sundays (or another day/s of the week) are still closing days for many. People are unashamed of closing at closing time, as they are unashamed of taking a proper lunch break and closing up for a well-deserved vacation once a year. I love these qualities and I think they should be encouraged. In the end, I believe that society is richer for taking breaks and exploring life to its fullest. This is what gives us time for Art and makes us richer, fairer, better.

It sounds very romantic and idealistic to say this, but, like most people, I am in love with Paris and being there changed me. I really hope I can hold onto those changes and I really hope they make me better. What better way to kick off the fall season than with hope?