Cultural Roundtable pitches public art policy

By Chris Marchand

The Dryden Cultural Roundtable was back in the public eye in late February, appearing at the Feb. 27 meeting of council to lobby for the formation of a public arts policy.

Represented by Cultural Roundtable Chair Chuck Schmitt, the group proposed enacting a policy that would ensure the provision of funding for artistic and beautification enahancement to future developments.

Schmitt says the City of Thunder Bay has recently enacted a similar policy in an effort to transform streets and buildings into attractive places for businesses, investment and residences.

“What other communities have done is to set aside a small percentage of the funding on their capital projects for beautification and inclusion of art — like hiring local artisans, maybe use it for street-scaping, greenspace improvements like flower baskets. We’re doing some of that stuff already as a community but it’s been piecemeal. There’s been some great public and private partnerships in the downtown. What we’re asking is for something that’s in stone and guarantees cultural considerations are included in all projects.”

Schmitt cites the Duke St. Overpass as the perfect example where such an idea could produce a positive effect during its recent rehabilitation.

“It’s a main thoroughfare into Dryden, but there’s nothing there but functional work,” said Schmitt. “For something that leads into Dryden’s downtown, a little sprucing up would have been great there.”

With the budget already completed, Schmitt says the group is ‘putting the bug in the city’s ear’ for future consideration and will join the city’s upcoming strategic planning process in an effort to advance the city’s Municipal Cultural Plan.

“They’ve spent all the money to put a really good package together with Gwen (Kurz) and now we want to see that move forward,” said Schmitt. “It’s going to take time. With the budget being what it is, we understand it’s not moving as quickly as we’d like it, but there’s still some room for us to move some things forward.”

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