Premier's Council on Culture

I was sitting around the dinner table at my brother's place in Kamsack, Saskatchewan when I got the email containing the phone message from Heather Klimchuk, Alberta's Minister of Culture, letting me know that I'd been appointed to the Premier's Council on Culture. Being surrounded by my mom and dad, two brothers and their families, Heather, Dylan and Ben, made getting the news even more special.

The list of Council members is twenty two long including two Todd's in the Chair and Vice-Chair roles: Todd Hirsch and Todd Babiuk. The Chair recently presented at a Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce luncheon - a smart fellow with interesting perspectives on Alberta, oil sands and how Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo fits into the broader context of the Alberta, Canada and global economy. The Vice is an accomplished novelist, entrepreneur and columnist with the Edmonton Journal.

According to the backgrounder, we were selected from 270 applicants, an impress list of artists, advocates, administrators, innovators - all arts and culture champions. I'm particularly excited because I will have the opportunity to work with this amazing group on a regular basis starting in September when we convene for our first couple of days of meetings. Relationships will be formed that will strengthen the cultural fabric of Alberta for generations to come.

The Premier's Council on Culture will do a number of things, based on my recollections from going through the selection process. It will work on the development of a culture plan, an overarching plan to realize the vision for arts and culture in the province. It will celebrate the role that arts and culture play in building quality of life and how the sector contributes to our economy and vitality. It will also explore new funding models, innovative partnerships, cutting-edge collaborations and system-level issues that will result in a stronger sector, and ultimately, a stronger province.

Amanda Richardson, reporter for the Fort McMurray Today, sagely observed that my appointment to this body adds to the list of councils with which I am intimately involved: Regional Council (Councillor), Arts Council Wood Buffalo (interim executive director) and now the Premier's Council on Culture.

I am deeply honoured to have this opportunity to serve and contribute to the future of arts and culture in Alberta. I'm grateful to Premier Alison Redford, Minister Heather Klimchuk, and Associate Minister Don Scott for their confidence. I'm equally grateful to all of my colleagues in the arts and culture community in Wood Buffalo and throughout Alberta who have contributed to my education and rich experiences in the 22 years since moving to the province. I can't wait to get started in the fall.

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