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Cornwall Ontario Creates an Art Council at the Aultsville Theatre – September 23, 2012

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CFN- Cornwall Ontario woke up to having its own brand new spanking Arts Council.   It was mostly a bureaucratic and governmental exercise.   Led by  City Councilor Denis Thibault the initiative was then passed on to the Community Futures office and via a one year contract to Bruce Davis.

 François Désormeaux of SDSG Community Futures on the Culturescape & Arts Council Mandate

Davis worked hard and fulfilled his mandate, but is this mandate truly an arts council, and does it truly represent the area and artistic community?  Only time will tell.

38 in attendance at the end of the day  voted to approve the 13 names nominated vs 9 who voted against.   6 voted in were women and at least one was First Nations which is a great spread that reflects the community.

Back in 2010 we started another Artists Council which drew about 75 people to la maison with almost no hoopla and no financial support.  It was artists coming together.

Mission Statement

Other Links from that night

We need people to get it built.  1st Steps

It was fun and a buzz but never had a chance as certain politicians started to cast their shadows over it essentially because they had their own plans which have now rolled out.

Excerpts from the event.

Some great info and comments.   Artists have a tough ride to convince politicians of the merit of supporting the arts, especially in this neck of the woods.   Speaking of Politicians, Denis Thibault was there for the beginning.  Kudos to Councilors Clement & MacDonald for sticking around for most of the day as well as South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds who while clearly not a supporter of the arts was at least interested in listening and offered some sombre and realistic comments in the video above.

MPP Jim McDonell also put in a brief appearance before the event commenced.

Park City Utah, Telluride Colorado, Taos New Mexico, even nearby Merrickville Ontario are examples of towns and cities that completely metamorphosed because of the impact of arts on their community.    Gentrification in most urban centres usually are led by artists who always, struggling for money, search out areas that they can afford which end up attracting the very growth that chases them away.

Artists are the beavers of our Culture and Souls in many ways.   Could Cornwall be a magnet for them?   Is this council a start?  Only time will tell, but the awesome thing about Art is hope and where there is art there always is hope.

Clayton Windatt , Executive Director, White Water Gallery & CoFounder/Member Nipissing Arts Council stole the show to the point that moderator Graham Greer had him run the nominations and acclamation process.  (I kept wanting to call him Bobcat)    He won over the crowd and I think his presence was almost a contradiction to the process and again one of the coolest thing about art; how it can subversively communicate messages under the noses of those who might otherwise dismiss true artists.

Clayton speaks!

As for li’l ol me; I think I’ll take the rest of the afternoon off and get back to my own artistic efforts.   It’s hard to find time to devote to arts when you’re in the business of arts.  Another wry twist of nature.

What do you think Cornwall?   Is there hope for the arts and culture community here?  Can government essentially create an arts community or channel it?   Or is it up to artists to make it happen?   It was interesting to see those not attending more so than those that did.  Some of the areas busiest and most successful artists seemed to have passed on this process as did our mayor, and most of council.

And it was also nice that Cornwall came out to support the concert at the Port Theatre proceeds of which are being used to help save the building and the local promoters are focusing on creating a venue for local performers!   Jeff Brunet & Mark MacDonald are working hard with owner Glenn McGillivray.   We need to help support and save this venue!

You can post your comments below.

And kudos the Aultsville theatre which really is gorgeous, and kudos to Francois, Bruce, Charlene, and the team that did their jobs in putting this project together.   Any efforts to focus on art is never a negative!  And kudos even to Graham Greer who maybe, just maybe will put CFN on the press release list for Aultsville theatre….

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  1. Neil Macmillan says:

    Thanks for this coverage, Jamie, with your various perspectives. It’s nice to see you commend the organizers, because my wife (the artist) and I, as participants, really appreciated how well the proceedings were designed and implemented, including the full meal for everyone at the end. There was actually a nice, warm feeling throughout the proceedings (partly due to the truly excellent resource people), and this bodes well for the future. So, a successful “birth,” and we’ll just have to see how “the child” grows and develops with our support. One small point, though, in relation to your headline: it’s an S, D & G arts council, and not just for Cornwall.

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