New Westminster arts services event recap
By Naomi Ambrose, Staff Writer
The New Westminster Arts Strategy Taskforce held an Open House and Workshop on Saturday, October 27 at the Anvil Centre Theatre. The event was an occasion for artists, art enthusiasts, and community-building enthusiasts to come together to discuss a revised arts strategy for New Westminster—with a mix of chances for exploration, conversations, and participation.
The exploration began in the lobby, where attendees had an opportunity to explore the content written on nine easels that were symmetrically lined up across the theatre lobby. For lovers of colour, the visual display—which showed key details about the New Westminster Arts Strategy—was a thrill. The display incorporated colour with big and bold Helvetica-esque fonts to highlight key information about the Arts Strategy’s background, goals, and policy framework. The layout served as a good technique to awaken attendees’ curiosity about the Arts Strategy.
The exploration continued inside the theatre where admirers of architecture were in awe of the vastness and architectural design of the theatre. The circular feel of the space, combined with the round tables and chairs placed throughout, felt reminiscent of a Renaissance-inspired spirit.
Event participant Sandra Walton, a trained costume and set designer who has also worked as a theatre designer and booking manager, shared her insights about the dialogues, conversations, and participatory feel of the event. “I think the opportunity for all voices to be heard […] is really important,” said Walton in an in-person interview with the Other Press.
David Vivian, another attendee who is an artist, theatre designer, and educator, also shared his insights. “As an artist and educator and as someone who’s really interested in participating in conversations […] [the event was] a really interesting opportunity to get involved, to contribute to the conversations, and to help to create the future for us here in New Westminster,” said Vivian to the Other Press.
The opportunity to contribute to the conversation and direction of the city’s Art Strategy was further evident with the items that were present on the round tables. Each table had a white flip card with a theme that was affiliated with the goals of the Arts Strategy. Every table also had a large, chart-like white sheet of paper titled “Implementation Arts Strategy 2018-2023 Workplan”. Each chart focused on one theme and had additional information about the intention and tactics connected to the theme. Attendees were encouraged to discuss the workplan and to share their feedback or suggestions.
Instead of using the usual tools in an artist’s toolbox such as paint, paintbrushes, stencils, pencils, and blank sheets, attendees also shared their insights on a “Parking Lot” easel by using other tools such as multicoloured sticky notes and markers to attach their feedback on the easel.
For lovers of innovation, the Parking Lot easel was an interesting way to embrace ideas and innovation. A parking lot is a space where different car brands and sizes come together. This Parking Lot easel was a unique artistic method, incorporating the traditional purpose of a parking lot into an arts community forum.
For believers in and creators of art and community-building initiatives, the New Westminster Arts Strategy Taskforce’s Open House and Workshop was a reminder about the importance of community dialogue. The event highlighted the intersectionality of art and conversations, which ultimately helps to shape the future of art and communities.