Our reflections on 2018 and the future of Edmonton’s heritage

Dear friends,

As we close out another year and enjoy a well-earned holiday break, we take stock of the year that was.

Over the last twelve months the Edmonton Heritage Council has worked on our mandate to lead in advancing the City of Edmonton’s cultural plan The Art of Living: A Plan for Securing the Future of Arts & Heritage in the City of Edmonton: 2008-2018.

As we look ahead to 2019, that mandate is especially poignant, not least of all because this past Fall, City Council formally endorsed Connections & Exchanges, the new 10-year vision for arts and heritage in Edmonton, and successor to the Art of Living.

With this new strategy will come an evolution in our role in the heritage landscape, with  enhanced initiatives and programming, and a refocus on how we all work together to share Edmonton’s heritage.

But the published plan is just a start; we’ll begin 2019 by revisiting those conversations with stakeholders and the community to develop a plan to implement the actions outlined in Connections & Exchanges over the next 10 years.

We also believe that the success of EHC’s 2019-2022 Operating Budget  presentation request is a strong indicator of the confidence that Edmontonians and their City Council have in the work of the heritage sector over the past years.With additional operating funds, we will be able to increase community investment through our grants program, advance the Edmonton City as Museum Project (ECAMP), as well as create more value in the community for the work we do with Edmonton’s heritage sector, including raising the profile and preservation of urban places.

Together these two things reinforce core values in our work, supporting the continuing development of the organizations and individuals that make up the heritage sector in Edmonton and increasing community inclusion and engagement in all aspects of Edmonton’s culture and community life—beyond audience development, but to meaningful participation.

Given the limits of resources, those values have sometimes existed in a creative tension with the other.  Guided by good expertise, the opening up of participation (and not simply increasing audience or awareness of Edmonton’s history and heritage) is important in the health and future of the heritage sector and economy.  EHC is committed to:

  • An openness to newcomers to the work (and finding ways to develop their skills
  • Sharing of information and experience between the “veterans” and newcomers that might otherwise be protected and part of someone’s competitive advantage, and
  • Getting the perspective and advice of both those experienced and new on how we best support and grow this work—and what’s coming down the pike to which we should pay attention.

In short, we see 2019 as a year we work to share successful practices and continue to broaden the circle of practice and participation. If we can do this, I believe we will continue to be successful in serving Edmontonians and connecting more people to the importance of our shared and distinct experiences.

We look forward to another year of valuable and transformative work in connecting citizens to the stories of their city.

From our office to you and yours, Happy Holidays.

– David