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February 2017 Newsletter
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Loss of Media Arts Coverage and Downtown Parking Hot Topics at PACE Advocacy Meeting
 
The winter quarterly meeting of the PACE Advocacy Committee was held January 4th. A focal point of discussion at the meeting was the loss of media coverage, especially media reviews, as a result of the latest round of staffing cuts at the Edmonton Journal. Of particular concern to the theatre and music sectors is the loss of Journal reviewers Liz Nicholls and Sandra Sperounes. Several committee members expressed the view that objective, constructive review is an essential part of the creative process. Literary Arts representative Alice Major stressed that local arts coverage is very important to the Edmonton literary arts community, including professional reviews. Several members questioned whether an arts and culture periodical for Edmonton might be developed or emerge out of existing media. The committee is investigating whether there might be some viable options.

The Advocacy Committee also discussed the impact of the new downtown arena and the city’s higher parking fees on arts and culture events in the city centre. Committee member Russ Mann, executive director of Pro Coro Canada, indicated his organization is feeling some negative impact at concerts, and similar impacts are being felt by smaller ensembles, companies and individual artists performing in downtown venues. The Committee decided to seek meetings with such groups as the Downtown Business Association to gain a wider perspective on the impact of the new parking levies and whether any better options might exist for patrons of artistic events.

The Committee also discussed preparations for the renewal of the city’s Art of Living plan in 2018. Member Todd Janes expressed the view that PACE needed to be especially vocal on what is needed to foster a more sustainable environment for professional artists and arts organizations in Edmonton. The Committee also reviewed the city’s recent decision to provide rebates to Edmonton’s major festivals to help with the impact of substantially higher city service fees.  Festivals representative on the committee, Paul Lucas, indicated there is still some confusion as to just how much of a rebate different festivals would end up receiving, suggesting that not all festivals would be getting a 50% rebate and that, even then, it wasn’t enough to ease the hardship caused by the higher fees. The Committee’s spring quarterly meeting takes place April 5th.
Thank you for your nominations! 
 
Thank you for your nominations for the Mayor's Celebration of the Arts. We are excited about this year's event and will be releasing nominee and ticket details shortly. Remember, there is a discounted rate for PACE members, so sign up or renew your membership today! 
 Upcoming Arts Events 
February 2 to 5, Ice on Whyte
February 3 to 4, Flying Canoë Volant
February 9 to 19, Chinook Series Multidisciplinary Performance Festival
February 10 to 20, Silver Skate Festival
February 23, Mile Zero Dance: SubArctic Improv and Experimental Art Series
PACE Chair Meets with CBC Senior Management
Over Edmonton Arts Coverage

This month, PACE Chair Ken Davis met with Johnny Michel, Senior Managing Director for CBC English Services in BC and Alberta, to discuss the reduced level of arts and culture coverage by CBC in Edmonton, Calgary and other western Canadian centres. The meeting was very positive, with Michel frankly acknowledging that years of funding cutbacks by Ottawa had forced the CBC to significantly reduce both its news and arts coverage capabilities in western Canada. He said re-investment in the CBC promised by the Trudeau government will gradually allow the broadcaster to restore staffing levels to a degree, including in the Edmonton bureau, and thus improve its depth of coverage. Michel also said that strategic investment by the CBC in digital technologies was opening up a new world of possibilities in terms of programming.

Walterdale Drops Othello Over Casting Controversy 

“And what’s he then that says I play the villain?”
― William Shakespeare, Othello

Edmonton’s community theatre venue, the Walterdale, has decided to cancel its production of Othello just as the show was about to open. Controversy had erupted over the decision to cast white female actor Linette Smith in the lead as Othello, a role normally reserved for a black male actor. Apparently the theatre had received some public backlash over the casting choice and Smith was alarmed when she received what she perceived as a threat on her Facebook feed. At that point, she elected to resign from the part.

“This is a heart-breaking decision, but as a community of volunteers and artists, we can’t continue with a production where the safety of members of our cast has been threatened,” said Adam Kuss, President of the Board of Directors of Walterdale Theatre.

“Other members of the theatre community expressed their concern to us as well,” said Anne Marie Szucs, Artistic Director of Walterdale and Director of Othello. “We understand and appreciate those concerns. The vision we were presenting for this 400-year-old play was a post-apocalyptic world where traditional power structures were inverted and where the focus was on the battle between the sexes. We’re sorry this caused offence. We will continue to build on the respectful interactions we’ve had with community members on this topic, and continue to engage with and welcome any groups or individuals who want to get involved in our productions.”

For more discussion from the arts community, see the links below: 
GigCity.ca
Edmonton Journal
Global News
CBC
The Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton (PACE) is a not-for-profit arts advocacy organization, with membership that consists of professional arts organizations, independent professional artists and arts advocates from Edmonton and the surrounding region.  Serving the professional arts community since 1986, PACE produces the annual Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts, coordinates the Arts Vote Toolkit campaign at election times and conducts advocacy campaigns throughout the year.  PACE strives to bring the greater Edmonton professional arts and culture sector together to work toward positive lobbying and advocacy initiatives; provide information and support to professional artists and arts and cultural groups in the greater Edmonton region and increase the profile of arts and culture in the City of Edmonton and province of Alberta.

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Copyright © 2017 Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton, All rights reserved.


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