We received this beautiful letter from Frank Zotter today – an awesome guy, actor and busy community builder who brings so much life to the Ave. When I was young, I remember having a friend whose mother was “artistic.” She would sculpt, paint and take photos. She also instructed contemporary dance and was a keen patron of the theatre. It was at their house that most of our friends gathered. And it was IN their house where all of us were inspired with a wealth of artistic pursuits. In one room, you’d find children painting or making Play Dough sculptures, while in the other you’d hear African music and see a group of kids dancing wildly. My favourite place was the basement where forts were made and where we would pretend some kind of disaster had struck, acting out dramatic scenes of survival. Here, in my adulthood, I’ve had another chance to return to a very similar type of place. The Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts (or as we call it in the ‘hood, the Nina, is a place where so much art….happens. As a result of the Nina’s generosity, I have been fortunate enough to produce and act in some very exciting and innovative theatrical offerings in this space. Every year, I also organize a Christmas festival called Yule Ave, at which I provide families with the opportunity to create Christmas memories through ornament design workshops. I remember countless times where it seem like the walls at the studio couldn’t contain the amount of participants involved. Time and time again, while at the Nina, my art gets inspired by being under the same roof with so many other disciplines. Like being back at my friend’s house, the sense of joy and creation is palpable. Since I am an actor, I understand the dynamic of my craft. Mine is a truly collaborative one. The artists and staff at the Nina also fully understand this. Given the resources and encouragement the artists at the Nina not only soar higher artistically, they also inspire all those within their reach to do the same! It definitely creates community and an ideal environment. It has also helped nurture an ever evolving city neighbourhood. This is what happens when master creativity meets with huge hearted generosity. My friend’s mother, the Nina and all those welcoming and talented artists who work and play there embody this. I love playing at their house and I’d love for other Edmonton artists from other disciplines to get the same chance.