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Arts community supports call for public art policy

INNISFAIL – The Innisfail Art Council has come out in full support for a public art policy for the community in the wake of the removal of two cherished downtown murals. Town council briefly discussed the matter at a meeting Sept. 9.
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L Art and public murals
Some of the artwork on display at the recent art show and sale organized by the Innisfail Art Council. The council is supportive of any initiative that would promote and protect public art.

INNISFAIL – The Innisfail Art Council has come out in full support for a public art policy for the community in the wake of the removal of two cherished downtown murals.

Town council briefly discussed the matter at a meeting Sept. 9. Mayor Jim Romane renewed his call to have the local arts community engaged on whether the town should formally bring in a public art policy, one that could protect remaining pieces of public art and promote additional future pieces throughout the community.

“Let’s get them involved. I think we have to get all the stakeholders in the same room and talk about it and see what we can do," said Romane following the council meeting.

During the Innisfail Art Council’s 2019 Show and Sale on Sept. 20 and 21, there was significant support for the initiative and general consensus on the need for one.

“I think that would be wonderful. I think it’s needed,” said Carol McKinnie, president of  the art council. “That will be coming up in a future meeting, to discuss with executive and with our members to find out how can we help support, encourage and foster the love of art within our community and surrounding areas.”

McKinnie said there needs to be plenty of discussion, ideas and input on what a public art policy would entail.

“It’s always best that we work together and we bring our ideas as a unified group to help support and encourage the future of art and culture in our community and beyond,” said McKinnie.

Iris White is the education coordinator for the Innisfail Art Council and said the creation of a public art policy would be a good idea.

“We would be more than happy to work with (the town and other user groups) to raise the profile of art in Innisfail,” said White. “We have some amazing artists here and I think the town needs to benefit from that.”

Innisfail High School art and drama teacher Rob Burton noted Innisfail’s supportive arts community.

“I’m surprised that there’s no public art policy,” he said. “There is a stronger arts presence in the town of Innisfail than you would find in a lot of cities.”

Burton said it’s important to share an appreciation for art with his students, adding that a public art policy should support not just murals, but all forms and facets of art, reflecting the strong representation of quality art that comes out of Innisfail.

“There is such an awareness and presence of art in this town. I love that about Innisfail,” said Burton. “I think (having a) policy would be effective. I think it would be a good idea to have.”

Innisfail Coun. Jean Barclay has been a strong supporter of art in the community and was at the opening gala for the annual art show and sale.

“I think it’s very important for us to collaborate with the art council and the art community,” said Barclay, noting the town’s strategic plan is reaching its two-year mark next month. “We’ll revisit where our priorities are.

“A big part of the fabric of our community, of any community, is the arts,” Barclay concluded.

With files from Johnnie Bachusky.