The Arts are sometimes viewed by people as a nice-to-have, a luxury designed for a select group, something to cut in the budget, either personally or politically when times are tough. I do not think this is the right approach. Art is something we need to have and encourage, in good times and bad. We need to ensure our kids have access to art and music, both as participants and patrons of the Arts. The Arts should be accessible to many, regardless of income or background. We need a range of arts organizations as well – from grassroots visual arts programs at your local community centre to larger theater companies and operas.
Why do we need The Arts?
The Arts stimulate the imagination. They provide an escape. They make us excited and passionate about the world around us. They de-stress us and are a therapy to many. The Arts help us dream.
The Arts stimulate the economy. They employ people in a variety of roles from artists to contractors (over 9000 people). We as patrons spend money to view productions, attend shows and purchase creations. On average there are more than 7300 opportunities to view and engage in The Arts in Calgary every year. A strong Arts community makes our city more desirable for investment, for new workers and for tourism.
What do The Arts mean to me?
I am NOT an artist nor do I work in The Arts community. However I do have a strong admiration for all The Arts. I don’t have the skills to produce music, visual art or performance art. I can’t sculpt or dance. You don’t want to hear me sing!
But The Arts make my life better. I love music, live music in particular. I admire the creativity and beauty that art brings to our city. The passion and emotion one feels when watching a theatrical performance truly amazes me.
As a live music enthusiast, I always enjoy events like Sled Island and Folk Fest. They are a great opportunity to discover new music and celebrate unique artists. I enjoy visiting the National Music Centre with my two young boys. I like to go and look at a number of the art pieces across the city. It’s great to walk through downtown and see a wide variety of public art or enjoy the entertainment of buskers. The Woodlands Piano on 3rd Street is almost always being played whenever I walk by it – regardless of the time of day.
I also have had the pleasure of being involved in grassroots art projects. One example is the Inside Out project, which occurred when I was on the community association board in Southwood. The project displayed a mural or portraits of local residents in the neighbourhood.
What should Calgary do to support The Arts?
The City needs to continue to support the Arts financially, and fund the Arts to the same level other major cities in Canada do. Calgary should be a leader, which would help place our arts scene on a level playing field with other Canadian cities. We also need to look at ways to continue to support local artists and promote artistic programs and opportunity across the city.
I would like to see more information given to the public on how to get involved and access affordable art programs, shows and activities. I feel there are many families and people in our city that believe they can’t afford arts programs and productions. They are perhaps unaware of where to go to find and enjoy art programming that is affordable. I would also like to see more family-friendly shows, such as concerts that start earlier, so that younger children can enjoy them. Having more “all-ages” venues would give younger musicians the ability to showcase their talents, and be accessible to a younger crowd – from teenagers to younger children like mine.
I would also like to see a more central, comprehensive website to access schedules and information as to where arts programming takes place. Perhaps such a site exists, but I have to do a fair bit of searching to find out what programming is taking place, and sometimes I end up missing shows or activities that I would have liked to have seen.
There are many innovative, low cost ways we can support The Arts in Calgary, through the City as well as small businesses, entertainment venues, and local grassroots organizations. The more we support all the different levels and types of art in the city, the more our arts culture will grow, continuing to add vibrancy and value to Calgary. A rich arts scene makes our city more livable and our everyday lives more enriched. Support for The Arts will continue to create jobs while attracting top talent to our city both in The Arts community and beyond.