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The importance of Art and Artists in an Inclusive Economy part 2

Posted: Apr 23, 2024

Andrea Streisel
Director, Inclusive Economy

In 2022 Edmonton’s creative industry contributed approximately $2 Billion to Alberta’s GDP, but without artists we don’t have a creative industry. And we shouldn’t expect artists to work for free. Efforts toward building a truly inclusive economy in Edmonton require us to rethink how we value artists and their contributions to society.

As a part of EndPovertyEdmonton’s Art Activation Initiative, artists are paid an honorarium to share their work. We believe the old paradigm that artists should show their work for free in public spaces or in exchange for “exposure” is outdated and unreasonable. We also want Edmontonians to be able to afford to purchase art, attend performances, and read literature and poetry created by local creatives. Where might opportunities exist for artists to participate in the economy in new ways?

Many artists are accustomed to combining multiple revenue streams to earn a living. We see artists participating in and enhancing community engagement projects, partnering with local businesses to develop murals or create social media content, and supporting each other to create opportunities. How might we support our artists to keep creating and earn a liveable wage? What old ideas do we need to let go of or shift in order to support a sustainable thriving arts scene in Edmonton?

A local talent that always inspires me to think differently is Caroline Stokes. She was EndPovertyEdmonton’sfirst featured artist of 2024 and her paintings have been a colorful alternative to the greys of Edmonton’s winter for the staff and visitors to our office. She creates captivating and textured artworks that burst with vibrant colors and inspire imagination. When she is not working on commissions or creating new paintings, you might find Caroline performing musical comedy, hosting live events, or online sharing playful and entertaining content created solo and with brand partners.

Most recently she wrote, recorded, and filmed a hilarious musical parody of the Barbie Hit “I’m Just Ken”, called “I’m a Pen”. Of the experience, she shares “There’s a type of joy that happens when working with “regular” people who aren’t actors. I don’t consider myself an actor either — I’m driven by self-expression and I continue to follow my biggest joys. It felt like a no-brainer to ask my guy friends (and my boyfriend!) to frolic together and wear homemade ballpoint pen tip hats. Know what happened? We laughed and felt silly and everyone embraced being a little bit out of their comfort zone. There are few things that make me happier than seeing people do things they normally wouldn’t have done in a safe, friendly, and fun environment.”

Caroline has found unique opportunities to work with companies and communities all over Edmonton: creating comedic advertising for Poppy Barley and Painting a commissioned pocket door for Alair Homes’ New York inspired laneway house. And recently, with Alberta Ballet reading the story of Hansel and Gretel for the pre-show Storytime at the Northern Jubilee Auditorium.

While many of her paintings displayed in our offices have been sold, there are still a few beautiful pieces available. Visit to check them out.

You can see some of Caroline’s art and pieces from our current exhibition at EPE Gallery on Instagram.

If you’re a local designer, commercial property owner, or Edmonton business interested in participating in EndPovertyEdmonton’s Art Activation Initiative please contact

Caroline Stokes with her art at EndPovertyEdmonton
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