Ross Rants: Enough is enough
Epcor Centre is just he latest victim of cuts to the Arts in AB
It seems as though more and more often that any news involving the word “arts” is also going to contain the word “cuts.”
This time around, it is the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts who came out publicly admitting that they are going to struggle after the loss of a $420,000 grant that was revealed in the Alberta provincial budget released last spring.
As a result, President and CEO Johann Zietsman alluded to the fact that scheduling could begin revolving around shows that draw large audiences and brings in money, rather than art that pushes boundaries. Shows like Kim’s Convenience ¬– an incredibly moving story now playing at Theatre Calgary – could ultimately be pushed aside in favour of productions like Cats and Wicked.
This isn’t to slag on those big productions, but they are typically remembered for best renditions and not for making the audiences think and question — which is the descriptor you could apply to many of the shows put on at TC, Alberta Theatre Projects, One Yellow Rabbit and the other companies that call the Epcor Centre home.
Alberta’s culture minister, Heather Klimchuk, has said that the cut shouldn’t affect how theatre companies select their playbills. She did throw out the idea that the companies residing in the Epcor Centre should probably rethink how to get the most out of their businesses, with the two sentences essentially negating each other.
As mentioned earlier, 2013 has been a rough year here in Alberta for the Arts, with the budget seemingly targeting the very word itself. Especially considering this comes only one year after Calgary was touted the Culture Capital of Canada — a title that is now left meaningless.
With all due respect to Klimchuk, she might need to get re-acquainted with the venues and companies that she is technically overseeing during her stint as Culture Minister. It is difficult to fathom how she imagines the arts work.
Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t an industry filled with immensely talented people who coast through life because of their inherent ability to sing and dance. It is filled with extremely hard-working people who not only have to channel the intricacies of human emotion, creation and expression, but also have to constantly push through being undermined by people who just don’t see the point in art.
Companies like One Yellow Rabbit thrive with smaller shows that need more than flash and bang to bring in acts, because that’s the reputation they’ve built and the best way to use the venue they have.
Not only that, it also allows for some of the best theatre in the city. Shows like Tyland years ago at ATP leave more of an impression on this city than Seussical the Musical, even though both shows were strong in their own regards.
With Mayor Nenshi calling for a reversal of the grant cut, it seems as though more are starting to pick up the fight against the draining of arts in Alberta. Hopefully, it happens before we lose everything that once made this city considered a culture capital.