Amarjeet Sohi Arts and Culture in Alberta Ben Henderson Jane Batty Laurie Blakeman Lindsay Blackett Rob Renner Stephen Mandel

2009 mayor’s celebration of the arts.

The turnout was excellent turnout at last night’s Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts at the Winspear Centre in downtown Edmonton. Hosted by the Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton (PACE) and MC’d by CBCs Peter Brown and CTVs Carrie Doll, the 22nd annual event was an entertaining reminder to Edmonton’s business and political elite that there is more to life than profits and balanced budgets (though we’ll hear more about that soon). Notable political attendees included Mayor Stephen Mandel, Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett, Environment Minister Rob Renner, MLA Laurie Blakeman, and City Councillors Ben Henderson, Jane Batty, and Amarjeet Sohi.

The evening included performances by Jeremy Spurgeon, The Be Arthurs, The Raving Poets, Chris Craddock and Nathan Cuckow from Bash’d, Ann Vriend, John Cameron, the KO Dance Project, and Bomba!.

There were many nominees, but this years award winners were:

Mayor’s Award for Innovative Support: CIBC
Mayor’s Award for Sustained Support: SEE Magazine
John Poole Award for Promotion of the Arts: Ellis Brothers Photography
ATCO Gas Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement: Tim Ryan
Molson Award for Innovative Artistic Direction: Shelley Switzer
Northlands Award for Emerging Artist: Kristy Trinier
Stantec Award for Youth Artist: Roydon Tse
Telus Courage to Innovate Award: Rising Sun Theatre
City of Edmonton Book Prize: Imagining Head-Smashed-In: Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern
Jack W. Brink, Athabasca University Press

Like previous years, the final act (Bomba!) ended with a giant audience dance-off on stage, and while he may have tried his hardest, Mayor Mandel was clearly out-danced by Minister Blackett.

MORE: Mastermaq has a posted pictures and a review of the event.

Arts and Culture in Alberta Edmonton Arts Council

it’s time for a new capital arts and culture policy.

When thinking about Canada’s arts and cultural capitals, I wouldn’t blame someone for turning their thoughts towards Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver or Ottawa, but the Edmonton Arts Council hopes to change that as they have drafted a new culture policy for Alberta’s capital city in a new report titled “THE ART OF LIVING – A plan for securing the future of arts and heritage in the city of Edmonton 2008-2018.” The report was submitted to Edmonton City Council last week and begins by recognizing why a new and strong arts and culture policy is important for Edmonton:

The need for a cultural plan for the City of Edmonton was first discussed at Edmonton City Council in December 2005 during the debate and approval of the 2006 City of Edmonton operating budget. This need for a unified and wide-ranging cultural plan for the City was spurred by:

• an ever-increasing realization of the importance of arts, heritage and culture to the city.

• an acceptance that the City has key responsibilities in arts, heritage and culture.

• an appreciation that the sector is becoming increasingly complex.

• an awareness that the current economic boom in Alberta has increased the pace of development in Edmonton and emphasized the need to be proactive in many areas, including arts, heritage and culture.

The report also includes testimonials and stories of support from Edmonton arts supporters ranging from Jeanne Lougheed, Todd Babiak, Terry Wickham, Ken Chapman, Greg Hollingshead, Marilyn Dumont, and fellow-former Morinville-ite Marty Chan.

With the Spring Session of the Alberta Legislature starting today, I would hope that Tory Premier Ed Stelmach and Culture and Community Spirit Minister Lindsay Blackett (Calgary-North West) take a serious look at this policy recommendation.

(h/t to Ken Chapman for the link)

2008 Alberta Provincial Election Arts and Culture in Alberta Ed Stelmach Hector Goudreau Kevin Taft

alberta not civilized – tory minister.

With a provincial election call potentially less than 10 days away, both of Alberta’s main political parties are presenting their ideas and plans for the future. As a fan and follower of the arts community in Edmonton (and more specifically L’Unitheatre and the Varscona Theatre) I took notice of when both the Alberta Liberals and Tories made arts and culture announcements this week.

On Wednesday, Kevin Taft’s Alberta Liberals announced of a new policy titled Fuelling an Alberta Renaissance: Policies to Invigorate Arts and Culture in Alberta, proposing some key changes to how the Alberta Government interacts and provides support to Alberta’s struggling arts community. Ed Stelmach’s Tories followed their lead with an Arts announcement two days later. Much like Ed Stelmach’s environment announcement earlier in the week, the Stelmach Tory arts announcement was short on substance and big on pictures.

I heard through a media source in Calgary that at the media scrum following the announcement, Ed Stelmach struggled to answer the straight forward question of “who are your favorite Alberta artists, Mr. Premier?” (couldn’t even name Corb Lund?).

As if it wasn’t indicative enough of the Tory Government’s attitude towards the arts that the Premier had a hard time naming an Alberta artist, but I was blown away when I read Peace River Tory MLA and Tourism, Parks, and Culture Minister Hector Goudreau’s speaking notes from the policy launch:

“We can build a civilized society that aspires to excellence and beauty…”

Wow. Thanks, Hec.