In its completion, The Art of Living is a thoughtful and thoroughly researched approach to sustaining and fostering growth in Edmonton’s professional artistic community. Extensive focus groups and patience has ushered in a serious cultural plan that at once summarizes and disseminates its research and development. Personal essays connect the plan to the community, and detailed recommendations reveal who remains accountable for implementing all of these strategies. Boiling this down, the plan is an incredibly ambitious venture that qualifies the need to restructure and expand the Edmonton Arts Council.
This plan in essence is the blueprint for laying out the infrastructure this community seemingly needs, and now is not the time to tread lightly while the foundation is still being set. The community at large has grown and adapted to survive; nurtured on mostly by local community support. As a result the arts-at-large, at best, has a penchant for cross-disciplinary and collaborative efforts, real gems of Edmonton’s artistic process that should not fall through the cracks.
Direct and honest in self-assessments, the plan’s reasonable arts and heritage recommendations should be taken as a foundation—and not a limit—from which to grow. Many of the recommendations look to set and bolster existing activities such as ArtsHab, which currently exists as a shell of its potential. Its continued existence is a direct result of work and rallying support, but the real work is now only just beginning.
*First published in Vue Weekly, May 1 - 8, 2008