The latest copy of Nina News, the one-page double-sided newsletter published six times a year by the Nina Haggery Centre, reports that the gallery/artist centre is looking to move north to 118 Ave. More space is certainly needed, and the partnership seems ideal; partnering up with the Edmonton Inner City Housing Society through the aide of Council, the proposed revitalization of 118 Avenue through "art" has in one channel become "ArtsAve Place", the proposed art/low income housing studio gallery space where five lots have already been purchased. Though they are onto to the permit stage, and possesion of the lots happen in late summer, the idea is for the Nina Haggerty Centre to own its own art space with multiple floors of below-market priced condos above.
A similiar project was proposed for the existing United Cycle building and the lot behind, where developer Albert Romani has put forward the notion of a space dedicated to "art" and "artist" condos starting in the $200K range, but the "art" space would only exist on a 10 year lease and without zoning restrictions put into place to secure any form of a future. Though the group on 118 Ave, the ArtsAlive core, have taken over the old location of Popular Bakery and has turned it into an "arts" cafe, and seems keen on going forward with revitalizing the neighborhood through art, I only wonder if anyone really intends to keep these spaces dedicated to artists and the intentions of producing art on a long-term basis. The Nina Haggerty is looking to buy their own building, and in doing so securing its future. Other arts organizations, established groups and galleries who would benefit greatly from owning, should be looking to do the same before it all becomes too late (how long can ArtsHab hold? And what is to become of Harcourt in a few years?) Council and the community should be looking at ways to make the purchasing of art space possible rather than these band-aid relief projects where "art" is held as a beacon of growth and revitalization until the area can sustain itself and wants to reserve these art spaces for higher-paying tenants.
True that every city goes through this in growth, the Hausmanization, gentrifcation, whatever you would like to call it, but unlike most of these other cities that have pushed their artists to the fringes and feeds off their development, Edmonton has never privileged the arts within their limits, and with no incentive, no respect, no low income studio/housing, why, or how, would anyone stay?