Community News

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Winnipeg is the 2010 Cultural Capital of Canada

Designation from Ottawa brings $2M for arts events

By: Bartley Kives

WINNIPEG – Floating stages near The Forks, a mobile storytelling centre and an international art and architecture exhibit may be coming to Winnipeg next year -- Ottawa is naming us as Canada's cultural capital for 2010.

This morning at The Forks, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore and Mayor Sam Katz are slated to announce Winnipeg has won a bid to receive $2 million in federal funding for a series of arts events that will coincide with the Homecoming 2010 celebrations organized by the province.

The cultural-capital designation is conferred upon a different Canadian city every year. Edmonton won the bid in 2007, followed by Surrey, B.C. in 2008 and Trois Rivières, Que. this year.

To win the bid for 2010, the City of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Arts Council, Destination Winnipeg and a series of arts organizations prepared a program of proposed events, including a one-day river-barge arts festival that could see the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Winnipeg Ballet or other groups perform on up to three floating stages near The Forks.

Other proposed events include art and architecture exhibits and symposiums, a cello festival and a mobile storytelling festival, as well as the launch of a new permanent public art project, say documents approved by city council in 2008.

"Winnipeg, in legend and in fact, is one of the most significant cultural capitals in the world," reads the submission sent to the federal government to consider granting Winnipeg the cultural-capital status for 2010.

"The timing for this request seems not only right but auspicious, since 2010 will be the 140th anniversary of the province of Manitoba and the celebration year of Manitoba Homecoming 2010."

The submission also drew attention to the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which is no longer on schedule for 2010.

Officials with the city and the Winnipeg Arts Council declined to comment. A formal announcement is slated for The Forks at 10:30 a.m.

To qualify for $2 million from Ottawa, Winnipeg's cultural-capital team had to secure $700,000 from other sources, the submission documents state. That included $150,000 from the City of Winnipeg.

Cities that have won the designation in the past have used the $2 million to stage a series of year-long public events.

Surrey, which carried the designation in 2008, used the funds to initiate an annual two-day multicultural festival and financed public art displays.

When Edmonton won the designation for 2008, it used the funds for a lights display, a poetry festival and a speakers series that featured former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray talking about cities.

"You can do an awful lot of with $2 million of federal money," said John Mahon, executive director of the Edmonton Arts Council.

Mahon said Winnipeg's designation as cultural capital is well-deserved but added the designation will provide the community with an opportunity to establish a legacy.

"You're not going to build stadiums with that kind of money but you can build relationships," Mahon said, adding one of the lasting legacies from 2007 is the commitment to connect newcomers to Edmonton's artists and art institutions.

Modern Earth Web Design, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada