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‘Cultural animators’ offer help to municipality

Two of Jasper’s arts ambassadors are offering up their services to the municipality, free of charge, as part of their training with the University of Alberta.

Marianne Garrah and Dave Baker of Habitat for the Arts are enrolled in the Rozsa Foundation’s six-month Arts Management Program and each have to complete a project in order to receive their certification.

In an effort to make the best use of their time, the duo appeared before council March 1 to suggest ways they could use their projects to assist the municipality with arts-related matters.

The key, said Garrah, is that the project addresses a challenge in the community.

“Our challenge isn’t to seek out or simply create spaces for art in the community. As cultural animators we are confronted with the challenge of having the arts recognized as providing a valid function in our community,” she said.

“We have approached Mark [Fercho] and Yvonne [McNabb] with three potential projects,” explained Garrah, speaking of the municipality’s chief administrative officer and director of culture and recreation. “One was a public art policy we could work on; we could assist with the busking policy or we could work on a community calendar.”

Garrah said those are just three ideas that she and Baker came up with and left it open to council to suggest other projects that might be more pressing.

The municipality is currently working on a bylaw that will permit commercial use of public space for things such as busking, sidewalk seating and the farmer’s market.

Baker suggested he might be of assistance, perhaps even setting up the town’s first “busk stops” where musicians are permitted to play or to help develop the permit process.

Garrah said her interest lies with the development of a public art policy that will provide criteria for the review and selection of art to be displayed in public spaces. She admitted it’s unlikely a policy will be completed and approved by council by her June deadline and suggested instead she could provide the municipality with the groundwork for a policy.

Sweetening the pot, Garrah told council that as part of their program, once the project is complete, the Rosza Foundation will provide some funding to assist with the costs.

Council was enthusiastic about Garrah and Baker’s offer and happily accepted it.

“Thanks for this,” said Coun. Brian Nesbitt. “It’s so nice to have people come forward offering to help us with things.”

Garrah and Baker are the founders of Habitat for the Arts—an arts organizations moving into the new library and cultural centre.

They will be before council again in June to present their projects.

Nicole Veerman

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