The Living City - Imagination Is Integral to a Healthy Community

By Thomas Morgan Jones

 Photo credit:  Matt Carter

Photo credit: Matt Carter

Healthy cities – and the humans who live in them – have other needs, too, beyond the basics: access to green spaces, community gathering places and arts and culture that inspires them towards empathy, creativity and action.

An urban planner friend once told me she and her colleagues think of cities as living beings. And, like any living creature, a city has needs. Many fall into the “basics” category: food, shelter, water, sanitation, education and health care.

My friend went on to explain that healthy cities – and the humans who live in them – have other needs, too, beyond the basics: access to green spaces, community gathering places and arts and culture that inspires them towards empathy, creativity and action.

It is this last need, the need for inspiration, that fuels my excitement about Fredericton’s new performing arts centre. It will not only be a place where New Brunswickers can experience large and small-scale arts performances, but also a community gathering place that will add to the downtown’s changing and revitalizing aesthetic.

Plans for the new performing arts centre include a smaller theatre space in addition to the main hall. This is thrilling – and exactly what Fredericton needs. This will be a place where local and provincial producers can create works that experiment with form and content in a welcoming and physically transformable space. A place where artists can have state-of-the-art equipment while also being able to produce on a smaller scale.

The new space will invite and inspire new art, new imaginations and new artists.

The new performing arts centre will be a building the people of Fredericton will be proud to call their own. All humans – not just artists – need creativity. It is fed by places such as arts centres, theatres and museums, spaces that contribute to healthy people and a healthy urban ecology.

I can’t wait to see Fredericton’s new performing arts centre come to life!

Thomas Morgan Jones was recently artistic director at Theatre New Brunswick. He is artistic director at Prairie Theatre Exchange, in Winnipeg. He has worked for the Stratford Festival, Theatre Direct and Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto, and the Charlottetown Festival.