LETHBRIDGE: Local artists sounded the alarm about provincial cuts to arts funding in a rather unusual way Monday.
About 30 members of the arts community "flash mobbed" the Park Place Mall food court at lunchtime, by freezing in place at exactly 12:15. They staged the event 10 days ahead of the provincial government's planned budget announcement, to raise awareness about the impact of more cuts to the arts sector.
Lethbridge sculptor Andy Davies was one of the organizers.
"If the provincial government wants vibrant, artistic, liveable communities where people want to live, work, play, raise families and pay taxes - a vibrant arts scene is part of that," says Davies. "It's part of what makes it liveable and interesting and exciting for the general population."
Allied Arts Council executive director Suzanne Lint takes that line of thinking even further. She says a healthy arts sector not only impacts the quality of life in the city, it also affects the economy.
"There are a lot of artists in our community who are working professionally and so if those folks can't work here and choose to leave, there's a huge impact," says Lint. "We lose people who are contributing to the economy of our community."
Last year's provincial budget cut arts funding by 16 per cent -a drop Lint says has brought many smaller groups to the brink.
"The arts didn't have a lot going into the recession. They were starting to make some headway in being at a place where there was a degree of sustainibility," she says. "But to start cutting there means you get back to the point where you start losing sustainibility, which is very frightening."
Photo: An example of a large-scale flash mob, this event was staged by Jamie Oliver at Marshall University in West Virginia. Flash mobs, or "flashmobs" - where a group of people gather in a public place and do something unusual at an arranged time, then disperse quickly - have become a popular pastime in recent years.