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IN FOCUS: New Westminster Cultural Roundtable

WHAT IT IS New Westminster Cultural Roundtable WHAT IT’S ABOUT In a nutshell : Bringing people together through the arts.
Stephen O'Shea, Arts Council of New Westminster
Stephen O'Shea, executive director of the Arts Council of New Westminster, is excited about the potential for a new New Westminster Cultural Roundtable. He's seen here at an ArtsToGo activity session during a weekend workshop at Glenbrook Middle School.


New Westminster Cultural Roundtable



In a nutshell: Bringing people together through the arts.

The cultural roundtable is designed to help break down the “silos” in the arts community and to create an action plan to help integrate the arts into the life of the community.



All artists, arts groups and arts-related businesses and institutions in the city, as well as any individual with an interest in the issue.



Last May, the Alliance for Arts and Culture held a series of cultural roundtables around B.C. to help create a “cultural framework” to deliver to the B.C. government. Afterwards, so many communities wanted to continue the conversations that began at those tables that the Alliance for Arts and Culture asked who would like to make it an ongoing discussion series.

The Arts Council of New Westminster, under president Leanne Ewen and executive director Stephen O’Shea, jumped on board, and the arts council is working with the City of New Westminster and the Alliance for Arts to spearhead the work in the city.

“We want to continue to bring the community together through the arts,” O’Shea says.



A Feb. 10 meeting will provide the introductory session – focused mainly on the people in attendance getting to know each other.

“The arts community has a history of feeling siloed,” explains O’Shea. “The performing artists don’t know the visual artists, the visual artists don’t know the literary artists.”



That’s entirely up to the artists, arts groups and other folks who join the sessions.

“This event is the beginning of a conversation,” says O’Shea.

Every meeting will have minutes taken, and minutes and reports will be posted publicly on the Alliance for Arts and Culture’s cultural roundtable website, so that everyone can keep an eye on what communities around the province are doing.

The Gallery at Queen’s Park will be used for the first meeting, but because of its limited space it’s likely that future sessions will be held in other locations – perhaps the Anvil Centre, or somewhere unconventional like on a SkyTrain.

“It’s not always about coming to these hub and spoke locations,” O’Shea says, noting the idea is to recognize that art isn’t just limited to traditional “artistic” spaces. “There’s art in absolutely every segment of life.”

Ultimately, the roundtable can help to provide the framework for a cultural policy for the City of New Westminster, growing out of its existing 2008 arts strategy – the strategy that paved the way for the Anvil Centre and the creation of the city arts coordinator position now filled by Biliana Velkova.

“It stands to be a fantastic thing,” O’Shea says.



First meeting: Wednesday, Feb. 10, 7 to 9 p.m. at the Gallery at Queen’s Park, Centennial Lodge, Queen’s Park. See to sign up. Attendance is limited to 25 people, so register in advance.



See or call 604-525-3244.