Volume 91, Issue 63

Wednesday, January 21, 1998

grape vine


Arts and core to benefit from millions

By Mark Lewandowski
Gazette Staff

Arts and artists nation-wide breathed a sigh of relief last week when the Canada Council for the Arts injected an extra $18 million into the community, honouring a Liberal election promise. Heritage Minister Sheila Copps announced a $25 million boost for the council in each of the next five years and the money is already starting to arrive.

Among the happy recipients are the performing arts, publishers and other groups who will all benefit from a 20 per cent increase – especially the National Ballet of Canada which will receive a $400,000 boost.

Some 150 artists, 126 projects and authors across Canada will divide $6 million, while about $7 million will go to special projects and activities not yet designated by council juries. That's where The Arts Project, a group of local volunteers interested in improving the arts scene in London, comes in.

"[The Arts Project] drafted a letter to Sheila Copps proposing an arts centre in downtown London with particular cultural and heritage initiatives," states Lawrence Karn, one of the volunteers for the project.

"Whatever we do will be inclusive of the community and it will be accessible to the community," Karn adds.

The basic purpose of the letter was to persuade a group of designated officials to visit London and see what The Arts Project is all about and how it will benefit the community. Fortunately, the call was heard and the two groups will meet early next week.

"First we'll give them a tour of downtown, show them the location we've been considering and then take them out to lunch," said volunteer Deborah Bray, before revealing the best part of the plan.

"We are planning on using the abandoned Talbot Inn [the huge empty monolith on the corner of Talbot and Dundas streets] which has been closed for about eight years," said Bray. "The Talbot strip from Dundas to King eight years ago had a few famous clubs and artist's studios and galleries until developers tore it down."

With the west side of London's downtown long overdue for a revamp and the community's need for a place to stage some artistic events and upcoming funding meetings – all the pieces seem to be in place for The Arts Project to assume a prominent place. They will certainly put their share of the wealth to good use.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998