This post isn't directly related to the life and works of Heitor Villa-Lobos, though after eight years of publishing the Heitor Villa-Lobos Website at Red Deer Public Library, there is a strong link between the great Brazilian composer and the city of Red Deer (pop. 70,000), which is halfway between the larger Alberta cities of Edmonton and Calgary.
Last week, Minister of Canadian Heritage Sheila Copps unveiled the names of the five Cultural Capitals of Canada for 2003, at a news conference in Vancouver. The five cities chosen are: Caraquet (New Brunswick), Red Deer (Alberta), Rivière-du-Loup (Quebec), Thunder Bay (Ontario) and Vancouver (British Columbia). There's more on this announcement at the Canadian Heritage site, and at the City of Red Deer site.
The key to Red Deer's success in the world of culture lies in the city's Community Culture Masterplan, and the long-standing grass-roots partnerships that underlie it. This intensely collaborative environment makes it so much easier for people and organizations to make important, lasting, sustainable cultural statements within a community and around the world. As someone who has the privilege of working in such an environment, I'm proud to celebrate this important national recognition of a great community.