There were no crystal balls or tarot cards at Arts and Heritage St. Albert’s annual general meeting on Thursday but Mayor Nolan Crouse sure was trying to project his vision far into the future.
A rapt crowd of approximately 70 members and guests listened to the mayor’s 20-minute wish list for what would surely be at least the next decade, if not two or three, of the city’s cultural sector. His gaze even extended out to poke other groups not directly attached to the municipal government itself. It was a forthright and eloquent gesture that prompted members of some key groups in attendance to be both more open and strident.
He gave his lengthy presentation with the proviso that it wasn’t council’s vision and it wasn’t election year glad-handing either but still the lofty and provocative ideas presented turned a few heads as the audience struggled to keep up with big idea after big idea. In a rare turn of form, Crouse even resorted to reading from a written document because of how much importance on and care he put into his words. In terms of time he only touched on several different sections of the cultural sector, separating the arts and the heritage and then further breaking them down. In terms of substance though he laid out some challenging and well-considered thoughts to rally together the agents of what he called a fairly disjointed cause in the arts field.
“Today, we have the arts leadership fractured,” he proposed. “I’ve wondered for all my six years on council why some arts are in and some arts are out. It was likely at that time a marriage of convenience.”
He suggested a growing involvement from the literary and dramatic arts, particularly a professional adult theatre group to extend the effect of the established and respected St. Albert Children’s Theatre. In regards to literary histories, he said he was hopeful for a third volume for The Black Robe’s Vision, possibly the greatest municipal treasure that has been produced in modern times. It is the definitive and comprehensive reflection on the vital elements of this city’s history and development, and already seems to have succumbed to history itself.
He also put out a further rally call to those in the historical sector, aiming a tender jab at the St. Albert Historical Society and the leadership at Arts and Heritage to work more closely together for the sake of common goals, if not at least direction.
“I do wonder at times if there is a more closely linked relationship needed between the Historical Society and the heritage work that is being done. I envision that a relationship being one between the Historical Society and heritage leaders have to be one and the same.”
Among the many sites in his sights included River Lot 56, the NABI building on Mission Avenue, Juneau House, the Michif Institute and the Community Hall on Perron Street owned by the St. Albert Community League. Crouse took a firm stand that preservation and not scrapping old, unkempt buildings to start from scratch was the key to a healthy community with a firm foundation in a rich past.
“One of the greatest gifts in life is to leave a legacy that outlasts us individuals,” he said.