By Mike Archer. With everything from the Envision Concert in The Park series in the summer, to the Envision Coffee House series in the fall, the upcoming Mill Lake Cruisin’ every July, the annual Arty Awards and countless arts and music events, shows and promotions throughout the year – not to mention the management of Tretheway House, the Abbotsford Arts Council has its hands full.
The role the Council plays in supporting, promoting and nurturing the arts in Abbotsford is such a crucial aspect of community life in this community it is hard to imagine the community without the Arts Council.
Relying primarily on volunteers, arts activists, supporters and generous donors, the Council has managed, sometimes against enormous odds, to continue re-inventing itself without leaving anyone behind.
Because of the Council, artists in Abbotsford have an opportunity to breath, to exist and to share their talents.John Smith and Bruce Beck made a terrible mistake when, in the vicious politics used to force Plan A into existence, they created the Reach without bringing the local arts community on board. As a result we spend some $650,000 a year bringing out-of-town art into Abbotsford and leave the local arts community to fend for itself.
The Reach loses money, isn’t open when residents might actually attend, and, despite dedicated staff who are doing everything expected of them and more, the gulf between the local arts community and the municipal museum and gallery is one of the pieces of collateral damage created by Smith’s and Beck’s Plan A.
If you could combine the history, the roots, the community engagement and the real, palpable and living support enjoyed by the Abbotsford Arts Council, with the cash being carried across the parking lot from City Hall to The Reach every year, you could really give the local arts community an incredible shot in the arm and provide a world class opportunity for promoting local artists.
While all of the wheels are falling off of Plan A and the biggest failure (the AESC and the Calgary Flames) has been partially addressed ridding ourselves of the Alberta hockey team, there remains an enormous opportunity to repair a deep wound in the arts community by fixing the damage done by the politics of Plan A which did so much damage to this community.