Culture Days and National Broadcast Partner CTV (Bell Media) invited Canadian journalism and media students to participate in a Student Reporter and Media Internship (link to Internship page*) program during the Annual National Congress on Culture in Edmonton, Alberta on May 7 and 8, 2015, (Link to Congress page). Five lucky students participated in this innovative program including a behind-the-scenes guided tour of the CTV Newsroom in Winnipeg and a once-in-lifetime mentoring session with Marci Ien, co-host of CTV's Canada AM. See more of the results of the interns work at: http://culturedays.ca/blog/2014/05/31/national-congress-culture-day-one-student-perspective/#sthash.WUbCWlfY.dpuf
The time has come for the fuzz to clear, for the streets to be covered in nothing but color, for the vacant lots to be filled with music and dancing. Let’s all help find avenues and more spaces to give a voice to artists and in turn identify, create, and solidify the Alberta Story. Todd Hirsch, Chair, Alberta Premier's Council on Culture
In order to give life to art, artists need open, free spaces in which to create. Places that will spark creativity not snuff it. Todd Hirsch, chair of the Alberta Premier’s Council on Culture, whole heartedly understands this desire for spaces and believes that government, sponsors, and landlords must look at more creative ways to help out local artists rather than just giving them money.
What does Hirsch recommend? Space, space, space, and more space! The Alberta Premier’s Council has developed a new approach to help artists in Alberta. The province has been going through very big, unpredictable changes due to a shifting economy and now, a huge shift in government. In this turbulent environment, asking the government for money may not be the best option for artists. Instead, to increase support to Alberta artists, the Premier’s Council has recommended reverting unused real estate and making it available for artists to share or create their craft.
“We wanted to be really creative in our recommendations. We didn’t think it was creative to say, ‘double the funding for artists’. We would all love this but it’s a bit of a fantasy right now to say double the funding when the province is desperately trying to save money. So we thought we would give them creative ideas that are both helpful to artists but also aren’t just going to cost more money,” says Hirsch.
“When we look around at the province there is a lot empty real estate. There are little strip malls that are sitting empty; there are vacant storefronts, and all sorts of spaces that could be used. But we have to figure out a way to how can we work with cities and towns and also with the landowners to get some of that space used because we think that would really help artists, and it doesn’t really cost any money,” says Hirsch.
Premier’s Council members Grant Berg, Casey Edmunds, and Deborah Shoctor all facilitated a workshop at #Congress2015. They shared one constant: the passion to preserve, protect, and support the Alberta art scene. The panelists all stated the need to provide more spaces for Alberta artists. Places that will encourage them to stay and craft their medium as opposed to moving away to other provinces with a richer art scene.
"If you look at Quebec or New Brunswick they know who they are. They have a collective story. In Alberta, it’s a bit fuzzy”, says Hirsch. The time has come for the fuzz to clear, for the streets to be covered in nothing but color, for the vacant lots to be filled with music and dancing. Let’s all help find avenues and more spaces to give a voice to artists and in turn identify, create, and solidify the Alberta Story.
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