Arts Court Development: building towards building blocks

Padolski Place Holder Sketch

Many arts organizations presented themselves at the City Councils sub commitee on Finance and Economic Development. It was a show of support as the committee was presented with a report on the development of a new Arts Court. An impressive amount of work from Real Estate, Culture and the many tenants of Arts Court to bring this to the tangible stage in 20 years. Thanks to everyone for their hard work thus far. There is alot of exciting times ahead!

I was on hand to speak about Artengine the development of a Media Arts Hub with SAW Video. I am including my remarks below. Enjoy!

Artengine is a production center for electronic art. We are also the Electric Fields festival and a virtual hub for artists and cultural groups across disciplines. We are also a cultural information network distributing event information to thousands of people everyday. We are alot of different things, but most importantly we are where technology comes to play.

There is much to be said about the intrinsic value of play, but this is the Finance and Economic Development committee so I will build my metaphors on fiscal and monetary foundations.

I see the relationship between the cultural organizations of Arts Court and the national institutions here in our city like that of start-ups to blue chip companies. The Arts Court functions as a unique incubator in the region, and has produced innovative cultural products for decades. And while they may not produce the predictable name brand return of an Italian Master or a German Symphony, they are exciting endeavors that present the chance to experience magic in the making.

The new Arts Court development expands on what is a very efficient and successful cultural incubator by increasing the capacity of the building and it’s producing organizations, and in the end making Ottawa culture more accessible to its’ people.

Inside this hive of Arts Court collaboration is both necessary and essential. It is necessary to find collaborators to bring your ambitious programming to fruition, and it is essential for the renewal of the creative energy driving your organization.

An exciting new collaboration in the Arts Court development is the implementation of a Media Arts Hub. This concept will bring together Artengine and SAW Video into a new space that will be much more than the sum of two growing organizations. Every discipline is increasingly including more sophisticated technologies into their productions, from re-conceiving the written word online to interactive dance to music performances across the network. This hub will play a key role in enabling innovative creative production in theatre, dance, music, visual art, writing and maybe even the culinary arts.

Another key component of the Media Arts Hub is the Cinema. I use this word over Screening Room because it is more indicative of the role this new space will provide. While Screening Room is a technical term that makes you think of a box, Cinema captures your imagination. Your focus turns outward, and this room will lead you in these new directions.

Returning to the concept of play and the role of artists in the creative economy of our city.

The success of this creative economy depends on the vision of its artists. At the fringes of mainstream feature films and TV comercials, there is video and performance art. At the edges of mainstream music there are audio-visual festivals taking audiences to their sensory limits. On the margins of engineering there are DIY makers and hackers.

More than any other sector, at the very heart of the creative economy, media artists engage with new technologies with a sense of play. Inspired by powerful possibilities of new technologies, media artists open up to new ways of thinking about, of making, of doing technology.

If the City of Ottawa is a brand, then Arts Court should be it’s flagship store. While the production of our municipal identity runs deep and wide throughout the region, this building should stand tall in the center, shoulder to shoulder with incredible intuitions, and stand out as a dynamic innovative icon that can not be confused as anything but from this place for this place.

Ryan Stec
Artistic Director

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