Did you know the Arts and culture budget for the city is only $12 million annually (based on Edmonton Arts Council funding by the city)?
It may sound like a large amount, but the EAC budget includes arts organizations, artists, facilities, festivals, and cultural days of celebration. Split between close to 400 organization and events, it’s not even enough to provide minimum wage. Arts and culture is what adds richness and diversity to our society. With the current budget, there are still ways to add to the Arts without a huge economic impact.
Weekly community art from schools and individuals could be featured at transit centres around the city. At every MTR (subway) station in Hong Kong, the Art on the MTR program brings forward both professional art and art from artists within walking distance of the station. This can be implemented immediately by adding protected poster boards to add local art in the community which can be changed out by a local organization or community league weekly. Other than the original installation of the board, it would require no additional funding of staff to keep the initiative in motion. All transit centres and LRT stations could easily showcase local art while adding enjoyment for transit users.
Some underutilized parking lots could be used as seasonal sculpture plazas. For places such as the Southwest parking lot at Mill Woods Town Centre where Zellers and Target used to be, the space could be made a seasonal sculpture plaza. University students taking industrial arts could have a space to display their art for a season, before having it replaced by other artists 3 to 6 months down the road. It would draw more visitors to nearby businesses, while foot traffic would deter crime.
Empty retail spaces could draw more visitors to shopping centres (Millbourne Mall for example) by transforming into local art studios or galleries with supplies from the reuse centre. The program would have the city offer tax credits to the shopping centre to offer the space.
Growing up under Mayor Jan Reimer’s recycling program, the city launched Imagination Markets, where byproducts by local businesses would by present at these markets located at shopping centres. Kids could come up to the table, make something with stickers and materials like newspaper film, and bring it home with them. A reboot of imagination markets would also educate the community about waste management in a fun way.
Keep the Arts flourishing by moving programs into the community to bring forward our cultural profile.