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Cultivating the Arts

Premier Ed Stelmach announced last week that applicants had until July 4 to apply for a spot on the 11-member council under culture and community spirit minister Lindsay Blackett. 

Garrah, manager of Artists Own, wants to join the council to help promote the town’s cultural scene. “Anytime I can get this tiny little corner of the province noticed in a bigger way would be my goal,” she said. “It’s kind of important Edmonton knows we’re here, it’s like Horton Hears a Who up here.”

It wouldn’t be very difficult either,  Garrah said; along with local artists she has experience working with others across the province. “We have connections to Medicine Hat, we have connections to Banff, we have connections to Cold Lake,” she said. “Once you start digging in the art scene you’ll find Jasper’s not that unconnected.”

After being involved in Muse Cruise, an electronic travel guide to arts and culture in western Canada, Garrah would like to see similar types of arts and culture information for travellers.

“In 2004, Travel Alberta did an amazing thing, they went around the province and categorized travelers, but they totally missed the creative class,” she said, “It didn’t even measure on the Richter scale that there are people that want to travel and see the galleries and see the museums.”

Albertans have long awaited a culture department, Garrah said. “We’re wealthy beyond our wildest dreams in this province and we haven’t been putting funding into culture in a long time,” she said. “Now they’re asking for 11 people on a council and I think that’s pretty amazing.”

Garrah’s chances of getting on the council are as good as anybody’s, she said. “I’m not a government employee, I’m not tied to any gallery, I’m not tied to any hotel, I have no ulterior motives. I’m more of an arts advocacy person and I like to link the province in different ways if I can.”

Council members will be appointed to one-, two- or three-year terms, meet at least twice each year, be paid an honorarium for attending meetings and be reimbursed for travel expenses. The council is expected to be formed by early fall.

Members will be selected based on their ability to promote the benefits of arts and culture, to provide advice on the policy’s four goals of access, capacity, excellence and cultural industries, and to enhance partnerships that preserve the province’s cultural legacy. 

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