Regina heightens its creativity
by Jillian Pavlin
Conference to inspire rejuvenation in Canada’s “Culture Capital”
For those with the opinion that Regina is in need of a creative and cultural face-lift, the “Realizing the Creative City Conference” will take place from October 13-15 at various locations in Regina, predominantly right here at the University.
This conference is the first of this nature and magnitude to take place in and for the Queen city. Motivation for the conference was inspired by Regina’s recent designation as the “Cultural Capital of Canada.”
The conference is designed to re-conceptualize the role of culture in the function and planning of the city, thereby improving the quality of city life. Conference co-organizer Kathleen Irwin says that the conference’s primary goal is “to focus attention on culture as a vibrant and viable commodity within the city; to put culture front and centre in the public agenda in terms of cultural sustainability and urban planning. [It] is a forum to bring together people from across various industries, from the political sector, the cultural sector and from the business sector to discuss ways in which to enhance creative life within all sectors of the city.”
According to Irwin, its aim is both to inform the public and incorporate public ideas through dialogue brought about in a comfortable and collaborative environment.
“We would love it if some of our ideas could take shape and go forward to another stage,” admits Irwin.
Discussions will take place at the University and are to include prominent artists and directors, such as Toronto Arts Council executive director Jim Garrand and Montreal-based choreographer and performance artist, Michael Toppings.
Tim Jones, the executive director of Toronto Artscape Inc. and keynote speaker of the conference, specializes in connecting cultural groups with developers in an effort to re-develop a city’s underused buildings for cultural reuse. Irwin says that this is extremely relevant for the city.
“One of our secondary goals is to generate discussion around the idea of a multi-use municipal arts facility in the core area of Regina.”
Irwin notes, “Regina’s core area is, like many cities in Canada, suffering economically. Consequently, there are a number of closed derelict buildings that are often historical monuments and real testaments to what Regina once was. Tim Jones’ appearance is terrifically pertinent in this capacity. He should be an exciting speaker.”
The conference will open with a bus tour of the city, highlighting many of Regina’s pre-eminent cultural features. Gallery opening receptions will be held at both the University of Regina’s Fifth Parallel Gallery and the Mackenzie Art Gallery. The Regina Public Library will be holding a miniature City Film Festival devoted entirely to “Screening the Queen.”
Irwin and co-organizer Rory Macdonald emphasize the importance of youth participation at the upcoming conference, particularly from within the university community.
“This conference deals with the relationship between culture and the community, and a lot of people at the university are a part of that culture,” says Macdonald. “Almost all activities within the university fall under that broad cultural definition. So in a way, students are cultural producers within the city. They should have a stake in how we define that word, ‘culture.’”
Both Irwin and Macdonald are optimistic about the potential turnout and hope that the conference will help Regina to realize its creative potential.
“It’s open to the public. It’s free,” they boast. “It’s going to be an exciting three days and we would love it if a lot of students came to it.”