Edmonton’s Winter Light Society, which held several winter festivals in the city, announced Tuesday they would no longer be operating.
Outgoing artistic director Pamela Anthony said the decision to stop the Winter Light Society was one of sustainability, explaining that the society struggled to transition from a three-year city pilot project under the Edmonton Arts Council to a non-profit arts society in its own right.
Instead, the society hopes that it inspired others to take on the challenge of celebrating winter in Edmonton at a level where it will be able to grow. Anthony pointed to events like Silver Skate and Deep Freeze that are already anchored in the city as beloved festivals.
“With the kind of initiatives and the kind of interest that continues to grow in the city around winter, people will see good things to come. Edmonton is a great winter city, and that was one of our secret weapons that hadn’t been explored. We are Canada’s largest northern city, a sophisticated metropolis with one of the liveliest art and culture community in Canada and winter is exciting to a lot of people. … We’re very unique and I think that sometimes when you look around, you take what you have and know for granted,” Anthony told Metro on Thursday.
Coun. Ben Henderson, who has championed the need for more winter festivals in Edmonton, said he believes the Winter Light Society did what the city intended it to – start conversations about celebrating winter in a winter city.
“We have been really good about creating that kind of energy in the summertime, and we know the success we have on that. It didn’t happen by accident, it happened because an effort was put into it. Once you did it, people took to it like ducks to water. The same is true of winter, now that we actually have the festivals … we find that people are going in droves for all the same reasons they would go to festivals in summer time. They’re just as keen and eager for communal activity in the winter. We don’t all hibernate,” Henderson said.
Henderson hopes events like the Mill Creek Adventure Walk continue, as well as a full winter festival dedicated to light.
The WinterCity Strategy, which helped spawn the Winter Light pilot project, will be before council again in October.