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Clearing the arts air

Posted on April 2, 2014 by Taber Times

I have met with council many times during the past several years. Apparently, I did not succeed in communicating the objectives of ACTPA (Arts Council of Taber for the Performing Arts) and in providing updates to the work that has been done at the performing arts complex. I will try again. The comments that I try to address are those made by various council members printed in the Taber Times of March 10, 2014.

Councillor Sparks muses about the real nature and goals of our society. Our mission objective which has appeared in several communications to town council reads “To encourage and facilitate the performing arts in Taber and area.” The statement is clear and unambiguous. We are devoted to enriching the lives of the residents of Taber and area, developing the downtown core, and encouraging people to live here because of the added element of a rich performing arts culture centred in an exciting, highly functional, and affordable performing arts complex. Furthermore, we have been totally aware of the code violations which are preventing us from continuing work until the approval is given from town council, the architect’s drawings are completed and the funds are in place. Moreover, it has always been a community facility as long as Councillor Sparks has been on council. To correct a misconception of Councillor Sparks, the court house has been designated a Provincial Historic Resource. This means funds from Alberta Historic Resources are now available for the restoration of the exterior of the building to bring it back to its 1917 appearance. We have received two matching grants of over $27,000 to help achieve that purpose. There is no restriction of any kind on what can be done to the inside. That fact has been communicated in both verbal and written forms many times. Where did I go wrong in not making that more clear?

To Councillor Strojwas, the intention all along has been to feature the visual creations of many artists in town on the interior walls of our buildings, especially in the atrium, which will provide a lighted and comfortable space to view these works. Neither is the dance studio “for kids to do dance and what not” only. It is a dance practice and recital room, a rehearsal area for various kinds of performances, a meeting room and a presentation and consultation space for business and community leaders and groups. Exercising imagination reveals other uses of the entire main floor of the court house.

To Councillor Brewin, no work on the inside of the building has occurred within at least the last two years, so it will not be necessary to enforce a cease-and-desist order.

Councillor Ross-Giroux challenged ACTPA on the lack of payment of the utilities. We plead guilty to the charge, but it has been done with the open and tacit understanding among both council and administration. It was determined that it would be better for us to invest our monies into the building fund and that the town would forgo those charges in an effort to help us acquire the resources to complete the arts complex. Senior members of the council surely understood this as well as the administration. I am surprised that no one informed councillor Ross-Giroux of this fact at the council meeting. We invite council members to discuss with us any concerns they have about the future of the three buildings comprising the performing arts complex. We don’t expect that council or its members are or will be specialists in all areas of their responsibilities, but we do expect that they will consult with those who are diligently involved in an area of development that will benefit the town. Town council itself would not build a bridge or even design a kitchen without input from those who are knowledgeable about, trained in, or experienced in these matters. The same would be said about performing arts.

We want to work in harmony with council. We hope there will be no further accounts of statements made by Council members that appear to express contempt, and contain numerous inaccuracies or even innuendos about ACTPA.

Ray Sheen, ACTPA

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