Sunday November 23, 2014

Cultural vibrancy comes from heart of community

From This Corner

A popular topic for my dad and my aunt to discuss when they’re both here is the sheer amount of music in the Battlefords when they grew up here. Just on their street lived a handful of children who grew into professional musicians. Many of those who didn’t choose music as a career still play, take lessons or teach them.

The last few weeks in our community have shown us that this has hardly changed. Whether it was house concerts, jazz society concerts, events put on by the schools or other musical events, the Battlefords’ “cultural calendar” has been jam packed recently. We’ve had jazz, Celtic, folk, classical, rock and roll, choral, heavy metal and fiddle music. Just Tuesday night I was lucky enough (or unlucky, depending on your tastes) to go from a transcendent, beautiful jazz concert to a fairly raucous heavy metal show. As I made the transition (listening to Frank Sinatra on CBC all the while), I realized I couldn’t make the transition I was making anywhere else. Or rather that I could, but I almost certainly wouldn’t.

North Battleford had, in its own way, created a unique experience for me.

Despite our community’s embarrassingly underdeveloped downtown, its serious problems with crime, its bumpy streets and other problems, it has nevertheless remained culturally vibrant.

I was struck, though, by the fact that almost every single one of the events I attended was community-organized. No one from City Hall was ever in attendance, although City support of one of the venues did have a role in making the event happen. It might just be that I have different tastes from most of our local government, but it’s been a consistent trend since I moved here.

This isn’t a bad thing, of course, it’s a really good one. But the point is that culture is alive and well in the community regardless of City Hall’s efforts. I wondered, often aloud, how the new theatre would fit into the current mélange.

While it could fail or succeed, our new theatre GM should understand that, for the moment, much of our community’s cultural life is just that – our community’s.



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