January 2019 has been proclaimed as the "Month of the Artist" in Alberta and one Airdrie based professional artist couldn't be more excited with the recognition.

Veronica Funk believes that Alberta Culture and Tourism Minister Ricardo Miranda's proclamation that January will become an annual celebration of artists and the value they bring to the province, both socially and economically, is a wonderful idea.

"I am so excited, not only as an artist but as an advocate for art in our community.  We all forget that we're all creative and it's good to be reminded of that by the arts community, that everyone has a place for creativity."

In making the announcement, Miranda said that Alberta artists and the arts sector make an important contribution to Alberta's economy and quality of life.  Statistics Canada figures show that in 2016, the visual and applied arts, and live performance industries in Alberta contributed approximately $1.3 billion in GDP.

Funk is also thrilled that Alberta also becomes the first province to launch an Artist in Residence program.  "I hope our community can recognize and embrace that too.  I've seen Airdrie really come so far in the 20 plus years that I've lived here, but we still have so much further to go to embrace the arts, especially in this time when we see children and young people struggling with academics or a very structured school system.  You see how creative thinking and creative problem solving is to every person."

The Artist in Residence will be selected annually through a public, competitive process and will advocate and promote the value of artists and lead conversations of the role of artists and arts in society.

Funk thinks that the recognition of January as Month of the Artist will do wonders for the arts in the province.

"I think it will actually, maybe, hopefully, educate the public to the validity of arts and culture.  It's not something that's for a small number of people, it's something that's important for everybody.  Being surrounded by beautiful things is just as important for us as having access to things like health care and education.  I think all of that is important in our lives.  Just like how we each decorate our homes or the clothing we choose to wear.  Art is important in our everyday lives."

Albertans have a tendency to agree with Funk.  85 percent of us feel that art activities are important for contributing to the overall quality of life in the province while 87 percent feel that arts and culture activities make our communities better places to live. 

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