Councillor wants ad-hoc committee established to promote dialogue for arts

As the beginning of the week heralded Arts Week in the NWT, supporters of the arts community in Hay River were working behind the scenes. 

Town Councillor Kevin Wallington is one of these supporters, and he’s hoping to establish an ad-hoc committee devoted to the dialogue for constructing permanent home for arts and culture in the town. 

The discussion about a dedicated centre for the arts is one he’s had stakeholders over the last three years.

He recently brought this idea with him to council.

“Having a dedicated venue allows people to have a place to come to,” said Wallington.

“It doesn’t have to be a massive facility but if we don’t even have that available we are reaching a limit of what we are trying to do.”

As the town grows, more people are supporting varied arts and cultural endeavours from music to theatre to fine arts and crafts at events.

Just last week the library hosted a forest-themed film festival, the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre began their third season at the Riverview Cineplex where the upcoming NWT international Lute Festival will be held this year.

In year’s previous, the festival has been held at the Pentecostal Church.

Wallington says there’s a need to continue to progressing towards a next step—a venue that would draw people rather than events searching for a venue.

This would ensure events like the NWT International Lute Festival can continue to grow and evolve.

“As much as we’ve appreciated organizations that have cleared access to facilities,” he said, “at the end of the day, we need a place that artists can gravitate towards.”

Along with the formation of an ad-hoc committee comes searching for funding and resources providing guidance.

Of these, heritage Canada and the NWT Arts council can act as advocates.

Next comes a feasibility study to determine the nitty gritty of what could work for the town, how much it would cost, and the potential benefits for the town, even surrounding communities.

“My hope is that we can find some funding to put together very basic strategic plan,” said Wallington.

“How do we get where we want to go, what do musicians and artists in this region want to do and how do we take the next step to allow them to do that, to be a part of creating a vibrant arts community in the town.”

But there are challenges. One is the time and resources it could take to work for the cause.

“One of the biggest challenges is we really need a person to champion the cause if we are going to advocate for this,” said Wallington. “You can’t just have a volunteer to do this because of the volume of work.”

A study could take up to three months to complete.

The ad-hoc committee, yet to be formed, will have the support of town council.

“When it’s time for us to move what better way to move than to bring this forward as a council,” said Wallington.

“I just really feel the town has to be leading the charge and if called upon, we have the mechanism to do that.”