The discussion concerning the future of the Strand Theatre has become quite visible in Winnipeg. This, of course, began with the Winnipeg Free Press running Deveryn Ross’s uneducated article implying that Shandra MacNeill’s intentions concerning the redevelopment of the Strand were in some way a conflict of interest because she is married to Brandon East NDP MLA Drew Caldwell. What blather.
“Muck raking” is a fine old literary tradition that I support, but the subtle bending of facts to paint a political position is the job of politicians not of the press. The job of the press is to objectively report the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I’m sure that unknown to most Brandonites is the fact that MacNeill is a person whose excellent work as artistic director of the Brandon Folk, Music and Art Festival is being entirely noticed within the folk music community throughout Canada. That in a few very short years she has transformed the artistic reputation of the festival itself from a “local event” to one approaching a world-class level is obviously not realized or respected by people such as Mr. Ross.
In MacNeill, Brandon has a person that has literally volunteered her skills and instincts in a way that deserves applause and community recognition, not the rude backhanded sniping of somebody who in the words of that immortal sage Spiro T. Agnew, is a “nabob of negativity.”
The development of the Strand Theatre would historically parallel the development of Winnipeg’s West End Cultural Centre, which, as you know, has become a major centre of cultural animation in Winnipeg. The existence of the Strand as a self-producing socially animating cultural entity will act as a developmental core for all kinds of happenings in western Manitoba. What an opportunity!
What an opportunity to improve the quality of life for Brandon and for all the citizens of Manitoba. That anybody would malign this idea by spreading innuendos of conflict of interest is more than a shame, it’s disgusting and socially destructive.
MITCH PODOLAK, founder
Winnipeg Folk Festival
Vancouver Folk Festival
Winnipeg International Children’s Festival
West End Cultural Centre
Home Routes/Chemin Chez Nous
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 28, 2012