Arts Hub could transform downtown

A huge congratulations and thank you to the Community Arts Council of Prince George and District Team (CAC) for the very successful 43rd annual Studio Fair, which took place Nov. 1-3 at the Prince George Civic Centre. This year was another amazing presentation of beautiful art, unique hand-crafted creations and gourmet delights that showcased the vibrant and diverse artistic community at one of the most beloved events embedded in the soul of the Prince George.

I am convinced that Studio Fair alone can satisfy any Christmas shopping list.

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Thank you so much to our sponsors: Jim Pattison Broadcast Group, CKPG, 99.3 The Drive, 101.3 The River, The Prince George Citizen and Rod McLeod and Royal LePage Realty, as well as to our partners at the Prince George Civic Centre and Prince George City Hall who show their support for the arts year round.

A big thank you to all the volunteers who generously give of their time and of themselves, including the hardworking men of Baldy Hughes that make set up possible; the Prince George Judo Club for helping us with the coat check and to the CAC board members that give so much.

Studio Fair No. 43 was a weekend celebration of wide-ranging artistic variety. Thank you to the Potters' Guild, Fibre Arts, Quilters and Woodturners Guilds, Carvers, Weavers as well as the Artists Workshop, Artists Co-op, the Prince George Symphony Orchestra, Judy Russell's Enchainement Dance Centre, Miracle Theatre and The Prince George Community Foundation, Cold Snap Society, Northern Indigenous Arts Council, Corey Hardeman, Elmer Gunderson, Shirley Babcock and CFIS FM Radio for sharing your talents so freely.

A heartfelt thank you to all the attendees from the local and surrounding communities who support the arts by attending this event year in and year out. Many people commented to me that they come every year and would never miss it. This speaks volumes about the level of commitment our community has for arts and culture.

The arts are a language onto its own that often speaks in the absence of words. It validates our humanity and helps us communicate our experiences in a way like no other. Creativity opens our hearts and encourages dialogue between those that produce art and those that consume it.

Studio Fair is an inclusive event and attracts all walks of life, ages, genders, ethnicities etc., and is evidence that the arts and culture are a common thread woven through all of us. It is a powerful and transformative force.

As president of the CAC, I often envision the impact that the arts and culture could have on the downtown core as we study the feasibility of relocating Studio 2880 on 15th Avenue to 3rd Avenue and Quebec Street, especially in this time of expanding crime, homelessness and social struggle in Prince George, particularly downtown. Could our pending relocation help with much needed healing? Just imagine the positive impact of a healthy, community-based Arts Hub, open to all people, that values inclusiveness, respect, dialogue, creativity, compassion, acceptance and love, could have on our downtown core.

Of course, there is no one solution to the serious and complex nature of mental health and addiction problems, but I propose that a community-based Arts Hub downtown has the potential to foster productive and positive activities and interactions in an area under siege. By having the vision and the courage to believe and invest in the arts and culture with our relocation downtown, Prince George could finally gain some ground for its citizens that live, work and love in this city.

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