Today a gym (Fitness Plus) in the community of Mayland Heights has an auction selling all of its exercise equipment located there. According to the sign on the door, they closed this location on October 5 due to their inability to “maintain the financial viability of (its) north location”.
Why is this arts related news, you may ask?
It is not.
However, what is news and relevant, is that the new occupant of the space will be Evergreen Theatre which I believe is currently located on the former CFB Calgary base. I know from the news that area will be undergoing redevelopment in the near future.
Some time ago, probably around the time that ArtBOX on 17E opened in the summer of 2013 and potentially in conjunction with a discussion of public art as well, I mentioned the fact of the paucity of dedicated art spaces located east of Deerfoot Trail.
I find this a rather fascinating observation. Here is why.
In the 2014 City Census , as seen here, it shows that 1,195,194 residents of all ages who live in the City boundaries. It also shows that there are currently 14 electoral wards for the office of Councillor officially representing those approximately 1.2 million people.
In those 14 wards, it would appear as if five wards are largely located east of Deerfoot (wards 3, 5, 9, 10 and 12). I can already hear it. I know what is going to happen is that someone will take exception to my choices of wards (especially with regards to ward 9). I am okay with that, because I see from the map on page 28 of the link provided above that there is no indication of major thoroughfares on it and where population actually resides. Ward 9 goes to the eastern city limits, but I also know that the Councillor is also considered to represent the inner-city by some. It is a moot point. I have probably erred somewhat. As a result I had to guess based on an approximate speculation of where Deerfoot is located on this map.
If I use the wards indicated above (3, 5, 9, 10 and 12) and add up the population in those wards as indicated on the map located on page 28, I see that approximately 442,479 people reside east of Deerfoot. That represents 37.02% of all residents of the city.
This is a significant amount of people, no matter how you cut it. From the following link we can see that a similar percentage of the popular vote (39.6%) was all that was required to bring the federal Conservative Party of Canada to a majority government in the last election in May 2011.
The question follows.
Given that this geographical area represents nearly 40% of the City population – why is it that this area has been so severely misrepresented with art spaces, for so long?
Regardless of whether you the reader, like my choice of electoral ward selection, it is nevertheless a valid question to ask.
I need to also state in all fairness, that Calgary Arts Development is aware of this deficit and has started to take steps to introduce cultural equity into places where none currently exist. One of those attempts is the ArtBOX on 17E project that is a limited time project in partnership with the International Avenue BRZ. So at least there are some attempts being made to try and rectify this oversight. Yet another cultural space is the long-overdue, but recently announced Calgary Film Studio that had the sod-turning yesterday (October 31) that will be located in the Great Plains Industrial area.
From what I understand the new Evergreen Theatre space will open in early 2016. I also understand that some of their space will be available to be sublet or for special events. This should help alleviate somewhat the demand for cultural space east of the Deerfoot (even if it is within view of, and a short walk away from Deerfoot Trail).
Having this space here makes me happy.
Bear with me as indulge myself on this circuitous detour to explain why. I will attempt to be short and unfortunately it might be even sickly sweet. It is possible that the dry heaves may occur.
At the risk of dating myself and because it is my blog I can do things like this. I once had a junior high school crush on a girl. I know, I know, I am sure that I am probably the only one that ever had something like that happen to them during junior high when the hormones were rushing. This is the only picture I have of her which was taken from a larger group photo as you can see from the buttons on the person standing behind her. She used to live on the street directly above this new art space. Around the same time, I also remember riding an inner tube with friends (who knows, maybe she joined us, stranger things have happened) down the hill behind this space and probably right through the middle of the space that Evergreen will soon occupy. I am sure that I did this at least a couple times when it was covered with snow. I have always wondered whatever happened to her as I don’t recall hearing anything about her after the time that this photo above was originally taken. I guess it will always remain one of those great mysteries in life.
Visiting the space when I took these photos brought back these remote and distant memories that I rarely think about anymore. It made me happy for that reason.
Fond memories as I travel down that dusty nostalgic lane.
Back to business now.
I wish those involved at the Evergreen Theatre much success in their new location.