Arts com­mu­nity op­poses cham­ber plan

Com­bined per­form­ing arts cen­tre, con­ven­tion fa­cil­ity un­re­al­is­tic, says Al­lied Arts Coun­cil

Lethbridge Herald - - HOMETOWN NEWS - Dave Ma­bell LETH­BRIDGE HER­ALD

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the city’s arts com­mu­nity have re­jected a sug­ges­tion to com­bine the lon­gawaited per­form­ing arts the­atre with a trade and con­ven­tion fa­cil­ity.

The Al­lied Arts Coun­cil, city of­fi­cials and mem­bers of Leth­bridge’s arts groups have been work­ing to­gether on plans for mod­ern fa­cil­i­ties since the year 2000, says AAC pres­i­dent Amanda Berg.

Over that pe­riod, their col­lab­o­ra­tion has re­sulted in con­struc­tion of the Casa arts in­struc­tional build­ing and an ex­pan­sion of the South­ern Al­berta Art Gallery.

“There have been many con­ver­sa­tions, stake­holder con­sul­ta­tions and fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies com­pleted,” she points out. “There has not been a rush to a so­lu­tion with these projects.”

Un­for­tu­nately, Berg says, the Leth­bridge Cham­ber of Com­merce “did not con­sult in a mean­ing­ful man­ner” with the arts coun­cil or the grass­roots Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre Ad­vo­cacy Group be­fore tak­ing its multi-pur­pose build­ing idea to city coun­cil.

“If they had, they would per­haps have had a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the com­plex­i­ties of the type of civic per­for­mance space needed by our com­mu­nity,” she says.

As well, Berg says, it doesn’t com­pre­hend the chal­lenges raised by the sug­ges­tion that the Univer­sity of Leth­bridge’s ma­jor art col­lec­tion could be re­lo­cated for dis­play at a con­ven­tion cen­tre.

The arts coun­cil also dis­agrees with sug­ges­tions the city could save money by hav­ing a multi-task­ing staff op­er­ate a com­bined fa­cil­ity. That “demon­strates a lack of un­der­stand­ing and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the com­plex­ity of op­er­at­ing per­form­ing arts cen­tres and world-class art gal­leries,” it says.

“The no­tion of a sin­gle staff is sim­plis­tic,” given the num­ber of spe­cial­ized tasks in­volved in op­er­at­ing the dif­fer­ent fa­cil­i­ties.

Leth­bridge au­di­ences need a wellde­signed the­atre to at­tract per­form­ers to the city, the coun­cil says, and lo­cal per­for­mance groups de­serve “an ap­pro­pri­ate fa­cil­ity to cre­ate and share their work.”

“Sac­ri­fic­ing space and de­sign in this pro­posed mul­ti­plex fa­cil­ity to save money is ill con­sid­ered, un­re­al­is­tic and not a long-term so­lu­tion for the com­mu­nity.”

In its pre­sen­ta­tion to coun­cil, Berg notes, the cham­ber asked that its pro­posal “re­main fore­most in the minds of city coun­cil” as it de­bates new Cap­i­tal Im­prove­ment Pro­gram projects for com­ing years.

“The AAC also re­quests you to keep fore­most in your minds the strong com­mu­nity sup­port and en­gage­ment, ex­ten­sive work and stud­ies com­pleted over the last 17 years as arts fa­cil­ity short­com­ings have been sys­tem­at­i­cally ad­dressed.”

City coun­cil is con­tin­u­ing its cap­i­tal plan de­lib­er­a­tions through the week.

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