Over the past few weeks, I’ve taken a deep dive into my new role as Minister of Culture. Alberta is full of great art, culture, history and heritage, and it’s a privilege to be able to work with our cultural organizations and industries.
I’m no stranger to Alberta’s cultural communities and industries. My wife and son are artists, so I understand the challenges facing people who pursue a career in the arts. I was also the shadow minister for Culture while I was in Official Opposition. At that time, I met with many stakeholders in this sector, and I’m eager to reconnect with them as Minister. I know what has been tried in the past and I look forward to determining what new opportunities lie ahead of us.
This province has great potential. Alberta was recently listed as one of the 50 most beautiful places in the world to film a movie by Big 7 Travel. Alberta’s artistic talent frequently attracts national and global attention, such as Celeigh Cardinal, who won the 2020 Juno Award for Indigenous Artist of the Year. Our world-class museums and cultural institutions are destinations for tourism from around the world. The Royal Tyrell Museum of Palaeontology, for example, attracts more than 400,000 visitors in an average year. These examples barely even scratch the surface of what Alberta has to offer.
As Minister of Culture, I want to develop strategies that won’t just help cultural organizations and businesses rebuild from the pandemic, but will help them thrive for years to come. My main focus will be on implementing an Alberta Identity Strategy, which was one of the recommendations from the Fair Deal Panel. Alberta’s western heritage, combined with the contributions of people who have come here from all over the world, make this province strong and resilient. No one needs to tell Albertans that we have a unique identity. Reinforcing that identity and sharing it proudly with the rest of Canada and the world helps position Alberta as a good place to live, invest, and do business.
In the fall, I’m looking forward to launching new programs to support creative industries and non-profits, diversify Alberta’s economy, and help everyday Albertans. This will build off the work that’s already been done to support recovery, such as the COVID Stabilize Program. Applications for the Stabilize Program - Phase 2 funding are still being accepted from live experience sector organizations, live music professionals and for-profit music venues.
Until then, while we enjoy the end of the summer, I encourage Albertans to discover and celebrate Alberta’s unique culture and heritage. Many of the seasonal provincial historic sites are open until the beginning of September, so make the most of summer road trips or weekend adventures while you can. Arts and culture events across the province have returned with in-person activities, online programming or hybrid formats, which will give everyone the chance to take part. Take in a local concert or a play, and help artists, arts organizations, and Albertans heal from the incredible challenges they have faced in the past year and a half.
Ron Orr served as Minister of Culture from July 8, 2021 to October 24, 2022.