Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore (left) presented the city’s first Community Contributor Award to Renate Fleming in October for her work establishing and building the community’s arts council over the last 20 years. (Photo: John Boivin)

Rossland artists push for inclusion in community plan

With new OCP underway, artists say it’s time their contribution was encouraged by city hall

Local arts and culture groups want their work to be a fundamental part of Rossland city council’s planning.

“If we want to be included, we have to move,” says Renate Fleming, the head of the Rossland Council for Arts and Culture. “We have to connect as arts groups and create a shared vision.”

Fleming says arts groups are hoping to develop a cultural plan for the community that can be incorporated into Rossland’s official community plan (OCP).

She says right now, arts and culture are barely mentioned in the plan.

“We think if there were guidelines we would establish, it could give council in the future something to work with and recognize art and its impact on the community and its value on a social and economic level,” she says. “We were hoping that would give more support to the arts, and foster the arts more in the community.”

Fleming says the inclusion of history and heritage in the official community plan 10 years ago has led council to support and develop community assets like the museum and discovery centre, and the Miners Union Hall.

Now, she says, it’s time for the arts to get the same treatment.

“We’re hoping that these input sessions and shared vision we want to create for the arts in Rossland, some of this will be supported by the city in guidelines that would be included in the OCP,” she says.

The first step is research.

The Rossland Council for Arts and Culture decided at its last meeting to begin researching the role of arts and culture in the OCPs of other communities.

They’re also reaching out to groups that want to develop venues, produce cultural activities and individuals building professional arts careers to find out what they would like to see from the city.

“Every city has a different cultural plan, we are just educating ourselves with what other communities have done and how it could apply to Rossland,” Fleming says.

“When decisions are being made, the arts get left out or involved and included, because the OCP says so.”

Fleming says the arts have made an important contribution to creating a unique identity in Rossland, and giving it a larger role in the OCP could help build on that.

An arts-focusd OCP could talk about the need to establish a centre for the arts, the importance of public art displays, or encourage an affordable community for everyone, including artists.

“There are questions on many levels that could affect artists, as a pro or con,” she says. “If we establish guidelines, council can consider them when they make decisions.”

Fleming says staff at city hall have encouraged her group to begin its internal discussions, and to get involved in the development of the new official community plan.

Fleming says a steering committee has been struck to gather information from various groups and individuals in a series of meetings and an online survey over the coming weeks.

“We want to keep artists coming here, we want to keep vibrancy, the authenticity of the town,” says Fleming. “We give this town a flavour, make it colourful and set it apart in its culture from other resort communities.

“Artists have a lot to do with that. So we want to make sure they can live here, that people support them, that the community supports them, and that the council supports them.”

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