Saturday 16 April 2011

Mayor Stephen Mandel's State of the City Address - April 5, 2011

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel highlights the Arts in his State of the City Address

Here are some excerpts:

I want to thank the Belle Rouge Music group for entertaining us today and bringing a bit more of the spirit of spring into this event.  

I asked them to be here, not just for their talent but to provide a concrete example of what we all know to be true – that we have an amazing arts community in Edmonton.

And because I wanted to highlight something that I believe will be true about our future – that if we truly want to focus on attracting business and creating a superior quality of life for Edmontonians, we must start with the creative industry of our citizens. 

Yes arts are an industry. 

And I believe that the promise of our future can be secured by cultivating and investing in our arts industry as we do across many environments, and in more equal measure. 

One of my favourite urban commentators is Richard Florida who has shown repeatedly that cities who thrive do so on the creative industry of their citizens. 

And he notes that these people, who are mobile and who see a world without boundaries can choose to go anywhere. So why not here? 

Why not make Edmonton the kind of City that welcomes artists to a level that we have not yet contemplated? 

Doing so is good business. As a city government, we invest in structural foundations that help our communities and businesses to thrive. Why not consider arts in the same way? 

Edmonton has a tremendous, talented arts community, and we all enjoy its many expressions. 

But as we are entertained, I believe we fail to fully appreciate the economic inputs and energy that are also created. 

And as our three-year capital budget debates begin over the next few months, I want to infuse some thoughts about arts infrastructure into our long-term thinking. 

Which is why I’ve now tasked a new arts visioning committee, co-chaired by Brian Webb and Dianne Kipnes, who are bringing together artists, arts administrators, and local business leaders in an open forum focused on how we can raise the profile of arts, and through it, our city. 

This effort builds on our arts plan – the Art of Living – which started to frame some bolder thinking about the arts. It asks how we can ensure our arts industry is more fundamental to our core. 

The vision is to establish Edmonton one of Canada’s clear cultural HUBs, supporting excellence across all mediums with arts as an economic driver for our region. 

And from the efforts of these community thinkers, we will consider how we can help our arts community thrive as part of our overall mosaic of business and creative industry. 

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