Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Alberta Art Days - check it out!

The last time I checked there were 54 communities celebrating this year’s Alberta Art Days.  That’s a sum of 235 different events taking place in libraries, galleries, and community centers across the province.  Whether it’s a puppet show at the Hinton Library or the Sauerkraut Festival in Innisfail, these events are meant to showcase Alberta’s vibrant cultural pulse.

But what exactly is the Alberta Arts Days, you ask?  Well, let me happily tell you.  The Alberta Arts Days, a Government of Alberta initiative, is a three-day celebration of Alberta's arts, culture, and heritage taking place from September 18-20.  Alberta Arts Days is an important part of 'The Spirit of Alberta', Alberta’s cultural policy.  If you want to learn more about this policy (which I highly recommend), visit: 

I am very excited by what an initiative like this means for the province.  After being in the arts and culture sector for over ten years now as a writer, an administrator, and as a volunteer, I have seen many cultural events take form – both in Canada and in Ireland where I lived for three years.  I have even been involved in the start-up of festivals myself.  I can tell you firsthand that there is inherent value in these events that is far beyond the appreciation of art for art sake.

In a recent study entitled “Developing and Revitalizing Rural Communities Through Arts and Creativity”, researchers Dr. Nancy Duxbury and Heather Campbell discovered that it is often the arts, cultural, and heritage related activities that connect and build a community. They state that: “The nature of arts activity in rural communities – the underlying cultural assets, dynamics, and foundations – inform and shape the nature of community and economic initiatives that interact with them.”  Basically, what they’re saying is that it’s arts, culture, and heritage that often act as our community’s spiritual and emotional glue.

I have found that, in many ways, a puppet show like the one in Hinton is more than simply entertainment for the kids.  Instead, it is a way of bringing families together and studies show that couples that play together stay together.  Arts and culture builds strong families and, as a result, healthy communities.

Leisure activities, like Innisfail’s Sauerkraut Festival, are more than a reason to eat bratwurst and listen to styling German tunes.  These activities contribute to mental health - reducing stress, reducing depression, and contributing to emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being.  These cultural events help people understand their neighbours, environment, and history.  This is what builds both pride in a community and a sense of place.

So there you go!  There are a whole slew of reasons for you to check out the Alberta Arts Days events in your community.  Do it for your peace of mind and as an active exercise for your brain.  Engage with the world and experience new creative outlets.  I, for one, have already planned my Alberta Arts Day weekend.  What about you? 

See this link for event listings in your community:


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