UPDATE: HRM Cultural Awards under review | Music | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

UPDATE: HRM Cultural Awards under review

The awards are safe for this year, but the future is uncertain.


OK, so there's been a day of frantic emails, texts, Twitter and Facebook activity over news that the HRM cultural awards had been axed. I just spoke to Andrew Whittemore, HRM's manager of cultural affairs, who has the official word.

The news that the 2011 awards are cancelled is incorrect—according to Whittemore, this was a misunderstanding between a HRM staffer and Theatre NS. The theatre and book awards will go on as planned this year, but all future cultural award programs are under review, as is everything right now, for the following:

-what is the award program; what does it look like; and should be the money be placed there, or somewhere else such as calls for proposals.
-where does the money come from? "Who should pay?" asks Whittemore, suggesting that the private sector may be called upon to contribute. "We want to create a sense beyond art for art's sake, that culture has a real economic importance."

While I'm pleased to see the awards happening this year (bet there will be some excellent acceptance speeches), I still think that what this situation really reveals is that HRM still has a lot of work to do in terms of gaining the trust of its cultural community. These small awards, while important gestures, don't make up for the lack of other programs such as an independent arts council, grants for individuals, etc. Whittemore says that emerging artist studio program, a great pilot project from 2009 that gives recently graduated students a place to work, will be announced soon. Personally, I'd like to see more of these types of long-term sustainable projects that assist artists in creation all year around, not just for at an few minutes of clapping on stage.

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