Skip to content

Killer bugs and the rest of us

The story in last week's column about the 1928 trip to Walsh Lake got me thinking. Hopefully, someday someone does a film about it because history is important.

A.Y. Jackson painted in the area before Yellowknife was founded and came back and painted it again when the mines started. So, in a way, he was first real artist here. The man loved the rocky wooded landscape of the North so not only would he make a good patron saint for the arts here but also it also reminds us of why we should try to save our landscape and outcrops and not blow them to smithereens.

When the city gets a request to destroy one of our gorgeous outcrops, they should ask, “What would old A.Y. Jackson say about this?”

We should try to save our natural beauty, not destroy it.

Currently, a group of people lead by Matthew Grogono are working on a plan to turn the historic Hudson Bay warehouse in Old Town into a Northern school for the arts. Personally, I think this is an great idea that should be seriously considered and supported by everyone, especially the city. Not only does it save a historic building but an art school could really help the city culturally and economically.

Yellowknife and the North already has a lot of very talented people, including artists, painters, illustrators, musicians, writers and actors. A school for the arts could help nurture them and help others explore their creativity. Yellowknife could become an even better artistic centre and artistic hub for the entire NWT. A vibrant and flourishing artistic community can and would help the north in a whole range of ways.

The problem is the various levels of government have a tough time understanding or supporting the arts as opposed to sports. I am all for sports and getting people more active physically but our well being and quality of life needs the arts just as much. I think it should be a 50/50 split.

Consider Yellowknife for a moment: its facility and its attitude toward sports and the arts. We have two arenas for hockey with three ice surfaces, the field house for soccer, the swimming pool and three baseball diamonds. All city facilities are paid for out of taxpayer dollars. Organized sports certainly know how to lobby the city for facilities. Meanwhile, the gymnastics club and ski club had to basically raise their own funds for their own facilities.

The city was all keen trying to get the Canada Winter Games here, even though it was going to cost millions and only a portion of that money would be recovered. So, the city certainly has a go-sports-go bias. The city tried to say it would help Yellowknife by the publicity it would generate but one famous painter, musician or writer could do the same thing for the city and it would last much longer.

Now what facilities does Yellowknife have to serve the arts? There is Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, our only proper stage or theatre in town, but that was done by a group, not the city. And that is about it. As for the city's attitude toward the arts, remember a couple of years ago when the city tried to say artists need permission to do a painting of the Wildcat Cafe or of any building associated with the city. That was bizarre.

Then they wanted buskers for the city market but had dozens of rules for them to follow covering everything from attire to their demeanor. Remember when the city tried to tell people in Old Town what colour they could paint their houses and how they could or couldn’t decorate them?

So, the city may be all gung-ho about sports but they have a rather strange, bizarre and schizophrenic attitude towards the art and artists. This is another reason why an art school is the such a great idea. The city could really use a course in art appreciation.