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Art for Everyone, Building the Community – #yeg

Visionary Arts Centre in Edmonton Faces Hurdles – Edmonton Journal

If you haven’t heard, there is a non-profit trying to drum up support for an outstanding arts centre in downtown Edmonton. As soon as I heard about it, I was incredibly excited. As a former arts marketing manager, volunteer theatre anyperson, and all around lover of the arts, this is a dream come true. The group already has land, $50 million in privately donated assets and a plan to incorporate static revenue streams in the U of A, self-sustaining theatres and retail space for private vendors. Wow. Sounds like a great way to establish the arts as a major contributor to Edmonton’s economy. Think of the cultural tourism opportunities we could develop to make Edmonton an entertainment destination like Broadway or Vegas (two broad spectrum examples, I know). Think of the educational revenue aspects as students from around the world choose Edmonton to study because of the dynamic growth in our arts and access to cutting edge architecture and technology incorporated in these theatres.

Think of the neighbourhood that flourishes beside this district. Families, students, youth getting involved in after school art programs instead of hanging outside of stores and the trouble that erupts from boredom.

When we’re looking at basically transforming a neighbourhood into a self-sustaining revenue producing district, you want to do it right. I am not balking at the $850 million price tag, but I think the group will not get the full support from city council this way.

I asked EDACC if interested Edmontonians had opportunities to help get this off the ground on their Facebook page. They replied with an excited Yes! and then asked me to submit a letter of support. Well excuse me, but that’s not how you build public excitement for a pricetag like this. You can’t lead with the money. You lead with the benefits, the results, the impact on not just transforming a community, but developing a city. You get people in who want to help you build it. You give them ownership of the project. Empower them with responsibility.

We need to find the needs of the city and find solutions to those needs in this plan. Too bad because I think we, as a city, can do a lot more to get these projects off the ground than writing letters of support.

And if someone asks to volunteer, get involved, etc – sure letters of support are a small way of moving the marble. But maybe open up your scope and think about how you can really use their talents to achieve what you want.

We have a huge arts community in Edmonton and despite people who think we “throw away” money to the arts, it is an essential component to a thriving city. Not only does it foster growth, education and respect in our youth, it has quality of life benefits for everyone. Government funding for the arts is down and so be it. We want good roads and access to healthcare, but we also want our children to be busy with paints not guns so let’s make a decision WITH Edmontonians on how to get this built.


Fabric Enthusiast, Wine Consumer, Humour Instigator & Laughter Participant with a background in online marketing, communications & media relations. Holds a passion for cover buttons, lifelong learning & flair for the dramatic.

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