The Vibrant Arts of Edmonton

Next week marks the beginning of Edmonton’s Poetry Festival. This annual celebration is in its 11th year, and will once again inspire and connect poets, artists, and citizens through the arts.

Poetry is something that some of us may think we do not regularly engage with and yet in our city, it’s never too far away. It’s in the music that we hear and part of the rhythm of our lives, helping us understand the world and imagine possibilities. Thanks to Edmonton Transit Service’s ‘Take the Poetry Route’ initiative, even riding the bus can be an opportunity to read work from local poets of all ages. The City of Edmonton, in partnership with the Edmonton Arts Council and Edmonton Public Library, also supports poetry through the Poet Laureate program. The role of the Poet Laureate is to “reflect the life of a city through readings of poetry,” giving all Edmontonians to connect their everyday to the literary arts.

As Edmontonians, we also have the opportunity to connect to poetry and other arts through a variety of events, festivals, exhibits, and performances. The arts are an important part of my passion for this city and what makes me feel connected to others. On March 28, I had the opportunity to attend the Professional Artists Coalition of Edmonton Spring Salon. The event started with a live poetry performance by my good friend Anna Marie Sewell and words of welcome from Randy Boissonnault, MP for Edmonton Centre. I was inspired by the energy and creativity in the room, and the ideas shared around how art can be a way to transform our relationships with one another. I am continually impressed by the work of PACE and their advocacy and promotion of arts in our city. I’m also looking forward to the attending the upcoming Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts on May 1st, an annual event also hosted by PACE. This event is an opportunity to recognize the great work done by local artists and see some of the great artistic creations from our fellow Edmontonians.

The arts are an exciting way to expose people to new experiences. The next few years will provide opportunities to bring people to new parts of the city they might not normally visit. You may have recently heard that with the Mill Woods to Downtown leg of the Valley Line LRT under construction, portions of Churchill Square will be closed from September 2017 to April 2019, affecting the 2018 summer festival season. The Province has opened the Legislature grounds for the Taste of Edmonton in 2018, and The Works will also be held there. The Street Performers Festival is hoping to relocate to the Southside next to the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market. The demonstrated cooperation between the City and Province to ensure these festivals continue despite construction is admirable. This type of intergovernmental collaboration is the kind of action that I look forward to supporting should I be elected as Ward 5 councillor – so that we can all enjoy our public spaces and first-rate festivals in all seasons.

More than connecting us to different spaces in the city, the arts serves as a way to connect us to each other. The opportunity to create shared experiences and memories is fundamental to building community, which to me is the true work of art.

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