Keeping the arts alive in Camrose
Lion Bear Fox is returning to the Bailey Theatre for Rose City Roots on Friday at 8 p.m. File photo/ Camrose Canadian
It’s difficult to accept that after a 110 years the Camrose Canadian is shutting down.
This is a great loss for the community of Camrose. I understand that in a news market, where more and more people turn to on-line sources for information, the local newspaper is somewhat of an anachronism. What people may not realize is that local newspapers are essential to democracy, civil society, local economies, and people’s sense of belonging. News coverage of local politics, issues, and events are vital to keeping people informed and engaged in matters that have a direct bearing on their lives. Local newspapers also let people know what is going on in their community, encouraging them to participate in local events, whether it is farmers’ markets, educational talks, church services, fundraisers, or cultural events.
In terms of the latter, the Camrose Canadian has been crucial. Those of us volunteering for Rose City Roots Musical Society and the Bailey Theatre have seen firsthand how these arts organizations have benefitted from the Canadian’s generous coverage of upcoming shows. Getting the news out about an upcoming show is not an easy matter. Not everyone subscribes to email updates and posters can only catch so many people’s attention no matter how numerous or strategically placed. But an eye-catching photograph and headline in the Camrose Canadian is hard to ignore.
The few times we have done research on how people have heard about our shows, we have found that most often they have read about them in the local newspapers or heard about them from a friend who had read about it.
The artists who perform on our stage — whether it is well-known performers like Matt Anderson, Ron Sexsmith, Corb Lund or Buffy Sainte Marie, or local performers like The Men Who Fell to Earth, the Bailey Buckaroos, or Godfrey Blaque — genuinely appreciate the coverage. It allows them the opportunity to inform people about their music and what to expect at the show. Coverage of upcoming shows leads to healthier ticket sales, more merchandise sales, a livelier downtown core, and a boost to local businesses. The growing “experiential economy” and tourism industry both depend on people being informed. You can’t expect people to participate in either if they don’t know what’s going on.
When the Canadian puts a photo of a Rose City Roots performance at the Bailey Theatre on their front page, as they have often done, it reminds people in Camrose of the great arts and culture opportunities they have going on in their own community. It assures the hard-working volunteers in these organizations that their time and effort are being appreciated. When the coverage is sent to the performers and their agents, it tells them that Camrose is a community that values the arts and reminds them to think about Camrose as more than just a Big Valley Jamboree destination.
The Camrose Canadian has been a cornerstone of the Camrose community since 1908. It has served as a communication hub that has brought people together, tying them to their community and reminding them of what their community has to offer. The success of the Rose City Roots Music Society and the Bailey Theatre has been, in no small measure, due to the dedication of the Camrose Canadian to the coverage of arts and culture in Camrose. We are grateful to everyone involved with the newspaper over the years. It will be sorely missed.