CATEGORY: community

Residents of Lunenburg County Speak About Arts & Culture – Alex Astbury

News Release Date: Fall 2021

Over the coming months we will ask residents what they think makes the arts and culture sector unique in this County. We want to know what, where, when, and why arts/culture is important to them. We want to discuss what they think nurtures arts/culture in our community and why so many visitors love to come here to partake in festivals and cultural events. We hope you enjoy their views and  insights.

Q: How would you describe yourself?

I would describe myself as a Career Realtor working with Red Door Realty. Since I was a small child I have always been very water oriented and water has always been important to me. Lunenburg is on the ocean. This, coupled with the town’s celebration of the arts and culture, makes it a great place live and work for me.  I think initiatives that grow and maintain the waterfront and its history along with a vibrant arts and culture sector are essential to our town’s success. Our waterfront and our arts and culture sectors, with all the festivals, boat and marine activity and access to art, pottery and weaving shops, musical events, etc. is why people like to live and visit here. 

Q: What is the most recent arts/culture event you attended?

Folk Harbour concert at the bandstand in Lunenburg. 

What are your favourite arts/culture activities when you travel?

Walking around neighbourhoods looking at different kinds of housing, watching people and how they interact with their community, parks, museums, art galleries, eateries … all these fit together for me. 

Q: Why do you support arts/culture activities and organizations in Lunenburg County?

Both arts and culture generate dollars and draw visitors to our town and county. Artists also give back to the community; what they create, whether it be a play, a music event, a boat race, or an art exhibition bring people together and create opportunities for people to celebrate right here in our town.  Art/culture activities build significant links that are essential for building a strong vibrant community. 

Q: How healthy would you say the arts/culture sector is in Lunenburg County?

Gauging the health of the arts/culture sector is difficult and I suspect it is a matter of personal perception.  However, I think this sector in Lunenburg is relatively healthy. A variety of artists live here and some of them, who are friends, seem happy to be here. However, we need to do so much more to enliven the sector and encourage artists to make Lunenburg County home. 

Q: What do you think contributes most to a healthy arts/culture sector here in Lunenburg County?

Inclusiveness is most important. In the 70’s and 80’s a gay friend and I operated a framing store in Halifax. The amount of homophobia and racism directed at my friend was overwhelming and hurtful and while this has certainly changed for the better today, we still have a ways to go in Nova Scotia. Life in the town has also changed and continues to change. Today, we are much more accepting than we were 50 years ago. We are able to recognize and celebrate all kinds of difference. We can see diversity strengthens all aspects of community life including the arts/culture sector. 

Q: What challenges the growth of arts and culture in Lunenburg County?

One of the primary limitations for the sector is the lack of affordable housing. Those working in the arts/culture sector are often living on limited incomes and right now affordable housing is almost non existent here.  Anything that can ensure reasonably priced housing and studio space is essential to any future growth in the sector. Artists provide so much that enhances the quality of life for us and we need to recognize this and need to work with them. There has to be a give and take. 

“Our planners and politicians not only need to support but advocate for art in public spaces including banners and installations, and ensure bylaws allow and encourage local art studios in artist’s homes. They need to provide incentives for arts and culture initiatives and encourage generosity and positive support for our unique culture. We need our Town Council to actively embrace this sector and put Lunenburg on the map. There are towns in Nova Scotia that have made arts and culture in, a priority and we need this to happen here.”

– Alex Astbury

Q: What things will help the arts/culture sector thrive in Lunenburg in the future?

Arts/ culture folks contribute significantly everyday to the economic well-being of our town and county. The various festivals, arts and culture events, art studios and galleries along with museums and boating events draw thousands of visitors here every year. Town Council needs to do more. Town Council  needs to encourage and support our artists. Our planners and politicians not only need to support but advocate for art in public spaces including banners and installations, ensure bylaws allow and encourage local art studios in artist’s homes. They need to provide incentives for arts and culture initiatives  and encourage  generosity and positive support for our unique culture.  We need our Town Council to actively embrace this sector and put Lunenburg on the map. There are towns in Nova Scotia that have made arts and culture in, a priority and we need this to happen here.