In this region, you often hear the question, “What’s in the water?”
The Southwest is bursting with artistic life, including actors, musicians, painters, writers and cowboy poets.
To make this possible, a well-deserved toast goes to the Swift Current Allied Arts Council celebrating their Golden Gala on Saturday, May 27 at Living Sky Casino.
The Arts Council has presented hundreds of professional performances and helped guide the cultural landscape.
In fact, we wouldn’t have the Art Gallery of Swift Current without the Arts Council, and we wouldn’t have the Lyric or Blenders without the Art Gallery.
Another nod goes to the well-established Swift Current Oratorio Choir presenting its Easter concert of peace on Sunday, April 9 at Bridgeway Community Church.
Our local cultural organizations are intertwined and depend on each other to remain strong. Unfortunately, the recent provincial budget places a particularly difficult burden on arts and culture.
Last week, Saskatchewan’s Minister of Finance Kevin Doherty announced the government is suspending the Main Street Saskatchewan program and eliminating the Culture on the Go and Community Infrastructure programs.
Both Creative Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Arts Board received about five per cent cuts to their budgets. Community Sport, Culture and Recreation programs saw a 51 per cent reduction and the Heritage Foundation a 40 per cent reduction.
For many, the most difficult cut is the nearly 60 per cent reduction of funding to Saskatchewan libraries.
This is a total shock to the Cypress Regional Library system, comprised of more than 100 employees, 32 rural public libraries and 14 corner libraries in southwestern Saskatchewan.
The local library provides computer lessons, Internet access, reading for toddlers and programs that you can’t find anywhere else.
Last year, Chinook circulated almost 300,000 items, issued 1,200 new library cards, and 664 local children read 8,000 books and participated in 92 free library events with the TD summer reading club.
English journalist Caitlin Moran said, “A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life-raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen instead.”
Like the theatre, a library is a place where cultures meet and where curious minds grow.
A downtown rally will be held Friday, April 7 at noon in front of Premier Brad Wall’s office, located at 233 Central Ave. North in Swift Current.
Show up to save our libraries, literacy and the strength of our cultural institutions.
Joey Donnelly is a Lyric board member.