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Thread: City of Edmonton Missing 2017 Budget Adjustments re Public Art and Nuit Blanche

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    Default City of Edmonton Missing 2017 Budget Adjustments re Public Art and Nuit Blanche

    Dear Mayor and Councillors,

    I attended the public presentations on the proposed 2017 Budget Adjustments Thursday afternoon and listened on-line to the deliberations Friday morning. While I appreciate that “you can’t approve everything”, there were two items in particular that did not get approved that I found extremely disappointing.

    The first disappointment was your not approving funds for a conservation review and report for the City’s public art collection. If I had to guess, I would estimate the City’s public art collection to conservatively be worth tens of millions of dollars. In just the last decade alone, the City has purchased well over 50 pieces at a cost of of more than $8,000,000. Other than that portion of the overall portfolio purchased under the 1% for Public Art Program which reserves a portion of the 1% for curating and maintenance, there are no conservation or curatorial dollars allocated in the City’s budget for the rest of the collection. What does this mean? This means we have decommissioned wood sculptures because they have rotted away. This means we have decommissioned wall murals because their structural supports have failed. This means we have decommissioned pieces as small as murals on drywall in LRT stations and as large as the Great Divide Waterfall on the High Level Bridge. All because we didn’t assess and maintain them when we should have. We wouldn’t – or shouldn’t - do that with our bridges or our buildings or any other part of our public infrastructure and we shouldn’t be doing that with our existing substantial investment in public art either. I realize there was an “invitation” to come back in the spring but even then there is no guarantee that funds will be made available any more readily than they were yesterday while, in the meantime, there will be a daily loss incurred by the City as curatorial and maintenance work continues to be deferred for lack of a plan.

    The second disappointment was your not approving funds in 2017 for Nuit Blanche. One of the frustrating things watching from the outside over the last two decades is the City’s ongoing/never-ending search for silver bullets and shiny toys to support the city’s economy and its diversification. We seem to have millions of dollars for bidding and hosting one time events like Expo and Commonwealth Games and Triathlons and World Senior Games and Baseball Tournaments and Red Bull’s Crushed Ice but when we do come across one like Nuit Blanche that isn’t a silver bullet but certainly is a diamond in the rough, we so quickly abandon it along with the previous public and private sector monies invested in its ongoing success. And it clearly was a success – it hosted tens of thousands of Edmontonians of all ages at no cost. It united Edmonton with more than 18 other cities who also host and celebrate Nuit Blanche. It connected Edmonton artists and curators with their counterparts from many other cities and - just as importantly - it connected artists and curators from many other cities with their counterparts in Edmonton. As for scale, Edmonton isn’t Toronto but Toronto’s Nuit Blanche estimates that it now attracts about a million visitors a year with more than 200,000 of those being from out of town. As for significance, it is an important enough event for Toronto that the City of Toronto actually produces their Nuit Blanche “in house” – it’s economic impact is estimated to be approximately $40 million dollars a year. It’s taken Toronto slightly more than a decade to grow into that but it could just have readily died after their first one. Like Toronto, we need to learn how to nurture and not abandon.

    There was much discussion yesterday and much support – and rightfully so – for the less privileged in the City of Edmonton. We all know that a full life is more than just a roof and food. Both of the above programs – our public art in general and Nuit Blanche - are unique in their being closest and most accessible to those who perhaps have the greatest appreciation and the most need not just for the necessities of existence but for things to enjoy and to arouse emotion and to strive for.

    I don’t know when there might next be an opportunity for you to reconsider your decisions on either or both of these items if that isn’t possible at this time but I would urge you to do so at the earliest opportunity.

    Regards,

    Ken
    "If you did not want much, there was plenty." Harper Lee

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    I'm waiting for the politically correct police to force the city to rename "Nuit Blanche" to something else since it translates to "White night" and will be deemed offensive and racist lol

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    http://edmontonjournal.com/news/loca...dmonton-budget


    $335,000 is a bit steep for a one night event. But no reason the city couldn't offer 75% of that. This is an event that needs to stay. I hope the organizers can get the funding through other means such as through the Ministry of Culture or Tourism. But the city absolutely has a part to play in this.

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    Well said. That actually pretty shocking to hear that after the art is delivered it sits & is forgotten about. Damn shame.
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    I read that Ben Henderson is trying to get council to reconsider funds for Nuit Blanche depending on snow clearing costs for the rest of this month.

    Here's hoping.
    Let's make Edmonton better.

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    I really want Nuit Blanche to be an annual event, but I would like to see more corporate sponsorship so that it's not always solely relying on taxpayers coin.
    “You have to dream big. If we want to be a little city, we dream small. If we want to be a big city, we dream big, and this is a big idea.” - Mayor Stephen Mandel, 02/22/2012

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    ^that would be best, but it is probably challenging given the business climate right now.

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    It needs a foothold.

    Now.
    Let's make Edmonton better.

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    Dear Mayor and Councillors,

    Below is the letter of disappointment that I forwardedpreviously when Nuit Blanche and the conservation of our existing public artcollections were denied the support they both warrant.

    Now that the anticipated “break even” budget projections for2016 have magically turned in to a $64 million dollar surplus, I would urge youto reconsider the original decision on these items at the earliest opportunity.

    While I appreciate the attractiveness of being able tosimply set these monies aside as an addition to the financial stabilizationreserve, I would like to counter that by pointing out the current economicclimate is one that in the big picture should see stabilization reserves drawnupon, not contributed to.

    The decision not to invest in these two things – both ofwhich taxpayers have clearly demonstrated with their own wallets and their owntime as having value to them - because the monies were simply not available wasone thing. To continue not to invest in them by making an unbudgetedincrease in funds set aside for future use – an option that was not evencontemplated when the original decision was made - seems to me to be aninappropriate choice.

    Regards,

    Ken
    "If you did not want much, there was plenty." Harper Lee

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    Thank you Ken. I encourage you all to send something similar if you believe in this event.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kcantor View Post
    Dear Mayor and Councillors,

    Below is the letter of disappointment that I forwardedpreviously when Nuit Blanche and the conservation of our existing public artcollections were denied the support they both warrant.

    Now that the anticipated “break even” budget projections for2016 have magically turned in to a $64 million dollar surplus, I would urge youto reconsider the original decision on these items at the earliest opportunity.

    While I appreciate the attractiveness of being able tosimply set these monies aside as an addition to the financial stabilizationreserve, I would like to counter that by pointing out the current economicclimate is one that in the big picture should see stabilization reserves drawnupon, not contributed to.

    The decision not to invest in these two things – both ofwhich taxpayers have clearly demonstrated with their own wallets and their owntime as having value to them - because the monies were simply not available wasone thing. To continue not to invest in them by making an unbudgetedincrease in funds set aside for future use – an option that was not evencontemplated when the original decision was made - seems to me to be aninappropriate choice.

    Regards,

    Ken



    Really ?

    When ?

    Where ?

    Who ?

    From what Top_Dawg has seen this clearly has value only for a tiny cadre of pompous, supercilious, self absorbed cornholios.

    How do these differ from the thousands of requests for funding that go before council every year ?



    Bizarre.

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    Impressive list.

    Which begs the question of why does this event with seemingly such deep pocketed sponsors require taxpayer subsidy when by their own admission it attracts less than 5% of the local population ( a figure that is likely grossly over estimated like these figures are always wont to be ) ?

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    Yeah, I don't share your passion in this one Ken. To me things like nuit blanche are nothing events. Some vague, even bizarre ideas started somewhere else and copy catted as if unique ideas are now franchises. I prefer that things like this be organic and started up locally. Not some retread idea that happened in Nice or wherever. We've had countless festival ideas or constructs here that have been allowed to die and never resurrect but for some reason we should maintain a concept that has nothing to do with Edmonton? An idea that had nothing to do with Edmonton, why. Nuit Blanche is about as original as parking lot parties.

    That said ideas like Flying Canoe festival (an implanted idea that has taken hold here) are wonderful but mostly due to the location.

    To piggyback an EJ letter to the editor why not just give the money back to taxpayers or save it for other intended operations as budget. For instance that some snow removal need or other such service need and expense will pop up in time. As the letter writer poised its curious that as soon as a city spots an unused amount of money they see it as a windfall in dire need of spending..
    Last edited by Replacement; 06-03-2017 at 10:51 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Top_Dawg View Post


    Impressive list.

    Which begs the question of why does this event with seemingly such deep pocketed sponsors require taxpayer subsidy when by their own admission it attracts less than 5% of the local population ( a figure that is likely grossly over estimated like these figures are always wont to be ) ?
    less than - but pretty close to - 5% of the total population of the city attending an unticketed/free event. yeah, that's a really good business model for private sector sponsors, deep pocketed or not.
    "If you did not want much, there was plenty." Harper Lee

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    Quote Originally Posted by Replacement View Post
    Yeah, I don't share your passion in this one Ken. To me things like nuit blanche are nothing events. Some vague, even bizarre ideas started somewhere else and copy catted as if unique ideas are now franchises. I prefer that things like this be organic and started up locally. Not some retread idea that happened in Nice or wherever. We've had countless festival ideas or constructs here that have been allowed to die and never resurrect but for some reason we should maintain a concept that has nothing to do with Edmonton? An idea that had nothing to do with Edmonton, why. Nuit Blanche is about as original as parking lot parties.

    That said ideas like Flying Canoe festival (an implanted idea that has taken hold here) are wonderful but mostly due to the location.

    To piggyback an EJ letter to the editor why not just give the money back to taxpayers or save it for other intended operations as budget. For instance that some snow removal need or other such service need and expense will pop up in time. As the letter writer poised its curious that as soon as a city spots an unused amount of money they see it as a windfall in dire need of spending..
    to be fair, we probably all have different things we are passionate about.

    some of us don't share in the city's passion for rec centres or arenas or football fields or agricultural societies or convention centres or bike races or ice castles... it's also interesting that you compare nuit blanche to the flying canoe volant. perhaps the difference is that the city of edmonton didn't withdraw it's support of flying canoe after the first event and continued to nurture - i.e. contribute financially to - its development and growth.

    as for "originality' being a festival or event criteria, i would suggest there's a bit of unwarranted hubris with that. i would struggle to find a single festival/event that doesn't have some element of having been done elsewhere first. like architecture, some would say that plagiarism is the best form of praise, not something to necessarily be avoided.
    "If you did not want much, there was plenty." Harper Lee

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    Quote Originally Posted by kcantor View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Replacement View Post
    Yeah, I don't share your passion in this one Ken. To me things like nuit blanche are nothing events. Some vague, even bizarre ideas started somewhere else and copy catted as if unique ideas are now franchises. I prefer that things like this be organic and started up locally. Not some retread idea that happened in Nice or wherever. We've had countless festival ideas or constructs here that have been allowed to die and never resurrect but for some reason we should maintain a concept that has nothing to do with Edmonton? An idea that had nothing to do with Edmonton, why. Nuit Blanche is about as original as parking lot parties.

    That said ideas like Flying Canoe festival (an implanted idea that has taken hold here) are wonderful but mostly due to the location.

    To piggyback an EJ letter to the editor why not just give the money back to taxpayers or save it for other intended operations as budget. For instance that some snow removal need or other such service need and expense will pop up in time. As the letter writer poised its curious that as soon as a city spots an unused amount of money they see it as a windfall in dire need of spending..
    to be fair, we probably all have different things we are passionate about.

    some of us don't share in the city's passion for rec centres or arenas or football fields or agricultural societies or convention centres or bike races or ice castles... it's also interesting that you compare nuit blanche to the flying canoe volant. perhaps the difference is that the city of edmonton didn't withdraw it's support of flying canoe after the first event and continued to nurture - i.e. contribute financially to - its development and growth.

    as for "originality' being a festival or event criteria, i would suggest there's a bit of unwarranted hubris with that. i would struggle to find a single festival/event that doesn't have some element of having been done elsewhere first. like architecture, some would say that plagiarism is the best form of praise, not something to necessarily be avoided.
    Flying Canoe works great here in Millcreek ravine. Really its about my favorite event now of the year. Its absolutely transcendent. Among the best Winter Festival ideas the city has tried out in decades. ( I like Silver Skate, Deepfreeze as well.) I don't know, I read up on all the exhibits, activities of Nuit blanche, asked a lot of questions about what seemed an odd festival concept (like what is it) and it seemed kind of a wave kind of idea that passes in the wind more than something to hang onto as a concept. In defense of my opinion the Edmonton Nuit Blanche website updates were not up to par and did a very poor job of explaining the event or what it was about. So that anybody that wasn't an attendee at any other NB event wasn't really moved by it. Seems like just a collection of entirely random art installations that happen to take place at night. The concept is chaos? I admit I don't get it. Maybe one has to research the Paris show or something. If this was a movie it would be called Lost in Translation except Billy Murray wouldn't be in it, would be some arthouse actor nobody ever heard of.

    Ottawa cancelled their Nuit Blanche and so I think that might make it easier for Edmonton to have done the same. Doesn't work everywhere I guess.

    I understand your point that I'm kind of drawing straws here but I'm aware of 100's of people passionate about Flying Canoe, of course also being in our French Quarter makes it charming. Check it out if you haven't. NUIT BLANCHE just seems to have much more limited appeal. Really I struggle to kind of figure out what it is about the event that is supposed to even be a drawing point. But that I guess is the subjective nature of what we like etc as you suggest.
    Last edited by Replacement; 06-03-2017 at 06:57 PM.
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    5% of the City's population for an inaugural event?

    That's massive.



    In other news, due to Council's corner cutting, Enterprise Square Galleries current show will be its last.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayBee View Post
    5% of the City's population for an inaugural event?

    That's massive.



    In other news, due to Council's corner cutting, Enterprise Square Galleries current show will be its last.
    isn't enterprise square gallery one of the 29 university of alberta museums/collections?

    it might well be closing - i hadn't heard one way or the other - but if so that would be a u of a decision, not an edmonton city council decision, wouldn't it?
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    ^ it was opened as a 3 year joint venture between the City and the University. Then council thought they'd be facing a taxpayer riot over the $300,000 because of the recession and pulled out. Then the University has apparently followed suit.

    I only hope they mothball it rather than dismantle it.

    It may be one of several the University operated, but it's the only one Downtown, suited to exhibiting to the broader public. It's also the only one that featured a broad variety of department artifacts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayBee View Post
    ^ it was opened as a 3 year joint venture between the City and the University. Then council thought they'd be facing a taxpayer riot over the $300,000 because of the recession and pulled out. Then the University has apparently followed suit.

    I only hope they mothball it rather than dismantle it.

    It may be one of several the University operated, but it's the only one Downtown, suited to exhibiting to the broader public. It's also the only one that featured a broad variety of department artifacts.
    thanks for the clarification on the opening... it would be interesting to know whether the closing was onesided or also mutual.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kcantor View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by JayBee View Post
    ^ it was opened as a 3 year joint venture between the City and the University. Then council thought they'd be facing a taxpayer riot over the $300,000 because of the recession and pulled out. Then the University has apparently followed suit.

    I only hope they mothball it rather than dismantle it.

    It may be one of several the University operated, but it's the only one Downtown, suited to exhibiting to the broader public. It's also the only one that featured a broad variety of department artifacts.
    thanks for the clarification on the opening... it would be interesting to know whether the closing was onesided or also mutual.
    Pretty sure it was one-sided, but I haven't been partial to that info. The people running it were excited about the progress right up until the University told them the decision. The University had been footing the bill by themselves for some time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayBee View Post
    5% of the City's population for an inaugural event?

    That's massive.



    In other news, due to Council's corner cutting, Enterprise Square Galleries current show will be its last.
    Its likely massively overhyped numbers. As these things often are. For instance I saw reports that Petite Nuit attendance was 3.5K, Nuit Blanche 50K. More than anything these are convenient numbers that sound good that are literally picked out of a hat. Theres zero substantiation of what the numbers are in the first place and no way to ascertain those numbers. So what fledgling festivals that want funding chronically do is elevate the reported interest, the numbers, the economic impact. As has been discussed on this board before people also don't have a basic impression of what 50K people even looks like. I haven't seen one picture of Petite Nuit where theres more than 50 people in the frame. Yet most of the festival was purported to be taking place in Beaverhill Park and with stated attendance of 5K. Presumably they're *counting anybody* walking by the street on either night.

    That said, I'm glad we have some fiscal conservative members on council who are upholding some of the reason they were voted in in the first place. We've had an endless run since Hayter of the types willing to spend other peoples money on anything.

    One opposition to this festival is that it is not the typical nature of grassroots art festival that takes root through local vision and interest. Instead this is a franchised arts *experience* coming to a city near you (any city willing to pay for it) which makes me question the endeavor from the word go as branded fast food art. Reports from Ottawa are incomplete but their 2016 Nuit Blanche was cancelled out right and with it stated they would return in 2017. But as the haphazard organization of these things theres no word on when or if it will go.
    Last edited by Replacement; 07-03-2017 at 10:22 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayBee View Post
    ^ it was opened as a 3 year joint venture between the City and the University. Then council thought they'd be facing a taxpayer riot over the $300,000 because of the recession and pulled out. Then the University has apparently followed suit.

    I only hope they mothball it rather than dismantle it.

    It may be one of several the University operated, but it's the only one Downtown, suited to exhibiting to the broader public. It's also the only one that featured a broad variety of department artifacts.
    Another overstated endeavor that hardly anybody shows up for in a deplorable reno of the former Hudsons Bay that is one of the most drab and depressing interiors found anywhere in Downtown Edmonton. My eyes literally hurt walking into that place. Its like looking at a half finished construction site where the money ran out but we're just going to occupy it anyway. Slap some art around the place like lipstick on a pig.

    Broader public, lol, who even goes into that building that doesn't have to. lol that the City had to move EPL into there to put something in this unloved interior retrofit that was sitting with empty street fronts. They probably wanted to move some COE staffers into there but with have Union riots if that happened..
    Last edited by Replacement; 07-03-2017 at 11:09 AM.
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    ^^
    Yeah, exactly Replacement.

    And Top_Dawg wants to point out that it isn't as if the CofE didn't provide funding.

    They did.

    Only not with as much as those championing this sushi art festival sought.

    Which is good.

    Like King Ralph used to say.

    You could give these special interests as much as they ask for. And it would never be enough.

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    Funny you should mention that.

    When Top_Dawg was going through his obedience program his sense was exactly that.

    Pretty sad when the most aesthetically pleasing feature of the space are the escalators.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Top_Dawg View Post


    Funny you should mention that.

    When Top_Dawg was going through his obedience program his sense was exactly that.

    Pretty sad when the most aesthetically pleasing feature of the space are the escalators.
    The most pleasing part of Enterprise Square are the exits.
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    As someone that lives downtown with many friends that also live downtown - we found Nuit Blanche to be quite confusing as to where to go and what to do. As a few others have pointed out, it just kind of seemed to be thrown together without a ton of 'event' planning behind it. While I'm not against the event itself as much as Replacement and Top_Dawg here, I would definitely like to see it planned a lot better. I don't know if they need to hire a new event planner, but it is definitely something to consider if the city is going to throw money at it and make it a long term investment. You can't grow an event that is poorly executed and planned. I think a lot of people showed up last year due to curiosity and the name/brand that Nuit Blanche has in other places in the world, myself included. I'm definitely not the only one that noticed the sub-standard planning and organization of the event.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Top_Dawg View Post
    ^^
    Yeah, exactly Replacement.

    And Top_Dawg wants to point out that it isn't as if the CofE didn't provide funding.

    They did.

    Only not with as much as those championing this sushi art festival sought.

    Which is good.

    Like King Ralph used to say.

    You could give these special interests as much as they ask for. And it would never be enough.
    Strangely enough the cost to have Nuit Blanche INCREASED by about 85K and pay the extra amount and you'll get the good, best, primo prime cut Nuit...


    I'm sure some of the councillors could smell the hard sales stench a mile away. Buy today, you're only getting this deal today, price is going up. I slam doors on these sales techniques every time.
    "if god exists and he allowed that to happen, then its better that he doesn't exist"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moodib View Post
    As someone that lives downtown with many friends that also live downtown - we found Nuit Blanche to be quite confusing as to where to go and what to do. As a few others have pointed out, it just kind of seemed to be thrown together without a ton of 'event' planning behind it. While I'm not against the event itself as much as Replacement and Top_Dawg here, I would definitely like to see it planned a lot better. I don't know if they need to hire a new event planner, but it is definitely something to consider if the city is going to throw money at it and make it a long term investment. You can't grow an event that is poorly executed and planned. I think a lot of people showed up last year due to curiosity and the name/brand that Nuit Blanche has in other places in the world, myself included. I'm definitely not the only one that noticed the sub-standard planning and organization of the event.
    Why not just have the city call it Bright Night, unearth all the millions in lights that used to occupy Hawrelak park and make it useful and weld it with the remaining artifice of metropolis, if they could find it. Throw in the Harbin Gates for good measure before it gets lost in storage somewhere. I'm being half sarcastic.

    This city is a clear mark for random ideas that cost money.
    Last edited by Replacement; 07-03-2017 at 11:50 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Replacement View Post
    The most pleasing part of Enterprise Square are the exits.
    Top_Dawg hears ya.

    But he doesn't harbour a fond memoy of the exit.

    Last class so it's final exam night.

    Fire alarms start blaring.

    Security bulls order everyone out of the place.

    But it's a bitterly cold December night.

    So they allow people to stand between the two sets of doors.

    There's Top_Dawg smothered by a crowd of aspiring business analysts, community engagement zealots, and wannabe supply chain mismanagers, all reeking of coffee breath and sour azz.

    After a while Top_Dawg couldn't take it.

    Told one of his classmates to call him when they give the all clear.

    And he went to Hawkeye's to poke back a brew.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Replacement View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Top_Dawg View Post
    ^^
    Yeah, exactly Replacement.

    And Top_Dawg wants to point out that it isn't as if the CofE didn't provide funding.

    They did.

    Only not with as much as those championing this sushi art festival sought.

    Which is good.

    Like King Ralph used to say.

    You could give these special interests as much as they ask for. And it would never be enough.
    Strangely enough the cost to have Nuit Blanche INCREASED by about 85K and pay the extra amount and you'll get the good, best, primo prime cut Nuit...


    I'm sure some of the councillors could smell the hard sales stench a mile away. Buy today, you're only getting this deal today, price is going up. I slam doors on these sales techniques every time.
    But Ken's letter said it was free?!?

    And people that are worried about shelter and food are the target audience for the exhibits!

    I love reading a good (read: hyperbolic and embellished) sales pitch.

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    I wish some of these so-called "fiscal conservatives" would consider buying one less interchange that costs literally 1,000X the cost of 3 years of the gallery, but no, they aren't really "fiscal conservatives."
    Let's make Edmonton better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moodib View Post
    As someone that lives downtown with many friends that also live downtown - we found Nuit Blanche to be quite confusing as to where to go and what to do. As a few others have pointed out, it just kind of seemed to be thrown together without a ton of 'event' planning behind it. While I'm not against the event itself as much as Replacement and Top_Dawg here, I would definitely like to see it planned a lot better. I don't know if they need to hire a new event planner, but it is definitely something to consider if the city is going to throw money at it and make it a long term investment. You can't grow an event that is poorly executed and planned. I think a lot of people showed up last year due to curiosity and the name/brand that Nuit Blanche has in other places in the world, myself included. I'm definitely not the only one that noticed the sub-standard planning and organization of the event.
    I wasn't that impressed with the one in Toronto when I saw it (just happened to be in town), so even when it is well organized, and in a "big city", its not that special. But I guess some people get value from it per the visitor numbers (although Toronto always gets a lot of visitors, its surrounded by other cities), not sure, we all like different things. The sad reality is there won't be corporate sponsorship coming anytime soon, so without that, it makes sense to put the idea on hold for a future where there is. Prioritize the most established / successful events until then.
    Last edited by moahunter; 07-03-2017 at 02:50 PM.

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