Mayor’s Arts Visioning Committee releases recommendations for raising the profile of arts in Edmonton

arts visioningAfter eight months of consultation and hard work, the Mayor’s Arts Visioning Committee has released 12 recommendations that aim to raise Edmonton’s profile as an arts and culture hub. The City’s existing 10-year-plan, The Art of Living, provided the foundation for the committee’s work. From today’s news release:

“The committee has done a tremendous job reaching out to the community, narrowing down a wide range of ideas to come up with this list of recommendations,” said Mayor Stephen Mandel. “Their efforts show how we can work together as a community to raise the profile of arts in our city. Arts is an economic sector as well as a part of our everyday experience as Edmontonians. These recommendations provide a good place from which to start a dialogue about how we can move forward.”

The committee was co-chaired by Dianne Kipnes and Brian Webb. The first major event was held on June 21, an initial “Think Tank” that brought hundreds of Edmontonians together to brainstorm ideas and opportunities. I was fortunate enough to take part in that event, and was delighted to see so many people with such passion for the arts in Edmonton. Over the summer, a number of smaller consultation events took place. The second “Think Tank” was held on October 28. We were presented with preliminary recommendations and tasked with providing feedback. Since then, the committee has been finalizing the report.

You can download The Art of Living in PDF here, and the Arts Visioning Committee’s final report in PDF here.

Here are the 12 recommendations:

  1. MacEwan Centre for the Arts: The City of Edmonton acquire and convert MacEwan University’s west campus, the Centre for the Arts and Communications, into a multi-use, multicultural and City operated arts incubator.
  2. Rossdale Plant Redevelopment: The City of Edmonton develop the former power plant site into a landmark cultural and commercial complex on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River which must include a premier Aboriginal arts and cultural celebration centre, as well as studio, exhibit and performance space for Edmonton artists.
  3. Downtown Arts District and Performance Centre: The City of Edmonton endorse, in principle, a landmark performing arts centre (PAC) downtown, and designate land for such a development in the city core.
  4. Arts Capital Allocation: The City of Edmonton establish a capital allocation under the civic capital budget in anticipation of future opportunities to establish, enhance or acquire arts space of all types.
  5. Community Centres: The City of Edmonton create and sustain arts spaces within existing and future community recreation centres and other community spaces for creation, classes, exhibits and performance.
  6. Arts Sustainability Fund: Private and government partners establish an Edmonton Arts Sustainability Fund for small and mid-sized arts organizations to help finance business development.
  7. Arts Central: A community-led initiative, modeled after Sports Central, be supported by the City of Edmonton, to supply materials, equipment, and program support for disadavantaged and disconnected Edmontonians to pursue arts experiences.
  8. Arts and Culture Vision in City Administration: The City Manager and Edmonton Arts Council leadership develop a strategy to embed a broad vision of the arts into city planning and decision making.
  9. Multicultural Arts Outreach: The City of Edmonton increase capacity for the Edmonton Arts Council to strengthen proactive outreach programs to ensure diverse communities are engaged in decision-making throughout the city’s arts organizations and increase participation across the city.
  10. Arts in Education: The City of Edmonton takes a leadership role to invite a coalition of business, civic and community groups to strongly advocate for increased funding and emphasis on arts education in Edmonton schools and post-secondary institutions.
  11. Artists in Residence Program: The City of Edmonton and business partners increase support and awareness of the Edmonton Arts Council’s “Artist in Residence” program to enhance in-house opportunities and collaboration for artists with local businesses.
  12. Business and Arts Advisory Council: Corporate and arts community members establish a business and arts advisory committee to work with the Edmonton Arts Council to build on the 2040 arts vision and link the two communities with shared expertise, resources and ideas.

I think it is important to look further ahead, but as we all know, it’s easy to make a plan and much harder to execute on it. There’s a lot of work to do to bring these recommendations forward!

Some of these recommendations should come as no surprise. The Rossdale Plant Redevelopment was going to happen with or without this report, for instance, but specifically including arts and culture in the plans certainly makes sense. I think the Community Centres recommendation is an obvious one, and actually am a little surprised that we don’t already include space for the arts in mega-complexes like the Terwillegar Recreation Centre. I’m less excited about the Arts Capital Allocation, because I think we should leave capital funding decisions up to the Council of the day, to decide on what they think is most important for the city at the time. All the recommendations are worth considering, however.

The next step for these recommendations is for Mayor Mandel to submit them to City Council for consideration. In the meantime, save the date for the 25th Annual Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts: April 2, 2012. Nominations are now being accepted!