Grumpy Old Men Lead Charge to Kill Arts Funding in Cornwall Ontario Budget Hearings by Jamie Gilcig – MARCH 10, 2015

Grumpy Old Men Lead Charge to Kill Arts Funding in Cornwall Ontario Budget Hearings by Jamie Gilcig – MARCH 10, 2015

grumpy old guysCFN – Claude McIntosh & Andre Rivette led the charge against Art funding at the Budget Committee meeting Monday.    Groups had ten minutes only to sing for their supper with some follow up questions with Bernadette Clement chairing.

For disclosure purposes I am on the board of our Art Gallery that has run for 30 years on City funding chiefly.    I also, along with chair Wyatt Walsh,  presented to council on a document prepared by councilor Elaine MacDonald who was TAG’s president at the time she wrote the submission and made sure it was submitted on time.   I am not writing this on behalf of TAG and this is not the view of the board of the gallery.  It is my own personal opinion.

The City of Cornwall went into debt by funding the $30M + Benson Centre with lip service paid to the Arts and talk of an Art Centre.   During the election both this term and last there was much talk of supporting the arts and how important they are to a growing economy, especially in a city that stagnantly sits below 50,000 in population.

Nearby Brockville, a city of half our size has seen its lovely Art Centre attract talent that by passes Cornwall and has seen development all around it.  Artists like Jann Arden appear there and do not attend Cornwall.

TAG is the city’s defacto Art Centre as humble as it is.  It’s downtown.  It’s been in the same location for over 20 years of its 30 years of existence and has seen some of the most talented artists in our region displayed.  It’s normal dollar support has been a tiny $70K per year which was cut to about $56K last year.  The Budget Committee now has recommended that it be cut to the $13,500 it has provided TAG this year.

This year TAG has a very strong board with people on it with long and historic ties to the art community.  There’s actually excitement right now.   Where we had a poorly attended AGM (are there AGM’s that are not poorly attended? ) we actually have complaints from some that the can’t attend our info session without joining the gallery first.

Mr. Walsh and myself did the best would could in 10 minutes to share about the new board and the new goals to amp up the gallery only to be met by questions and comments not related to our presentation.     Missing were Mayor O’Shaughnessy, and councilors Mark MacDonald and David Murphy.

Oddly enough Councilor Towndale abstained from voting from what seemed to be a lynching of the arts at this committee.   Councilors Elaine MacDonald, Carilyne Hebert, and Brock Frost recused themselves.   MacDonald and Hebert were part of the last board.  I have no idea what conflict that Mr. Frost would have?  He recently saw his motion for the city to hire a new Arts Coordinator fail.   The City’s last AC is joining the board of the Gallery.

I think it was Councilor Rivette that raised the question if they still were in Quorum as we only had Chair Clement, and Councilors Rivette, McIntosh, Towndale, and Dupelle to pitch to.

Also disturbing has been the TMZ like witch hunt that Todd Lihou and the TC media owned Seaway Media seem to have against the Gallery and its Executive Director Sylvie Lizotte.    All you have to do is search for gallery related stories and you can see a clear bias and position.    Bias is fine in opinion pieces, but in news pieces?

Even myself, who practices Gonzo journalism will give the other side a chance to comment.   Mr. Lihou raced out of the session yesterday and had a story live before I got home.  I had joked with our President about how a certain phrase he used could be twisted and there enough was Mr. Lihou’s piece.

Council as a whole get to review the decision of the budget committee.   Hopefully wiser minds given a moment for somber thoughts will prevail.

You can’t say you want to support the arts and how important they are to a community, and they are, and then not support your arts council and public gallery.

If you care about the arts in our city and wish to reach some of the Negative Nellies you can email them at

arivette@cornwall.ca

cmcintosh@cornwall.ca

dmurphy@cornwall.ca

loshaughnessy@cornwall.ca

And if you value the history of TAG in Cornwall please drop by the info session tonight (March 10, 2015) at 7 PM.  If you aren’t a member it’s only $25 per year to support the arts in your community.

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32 Comments on "Grumpy Old Men Lead Charge to Kill Arts Funding in Cornwall Ontario Budget Hearings by Jamie Gilcig – MARCH 10, 2015"

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mary bray
Guest

Sad really, TAG had such a great promise before pettiness entered the picture.Do they have to ruin everything.Might be a good idea to have a meeting with gallery in Brockville to see if Cornwall also can get off the ground.Bullying & pettiness has & is killing Cornwall

David Oldham
Guest
ADMIN…While I am not the one to say that a situation is insurmountable this dilemma is a challenge to the best and brightest no doubt. Without singling out particular individuals around the horseshoe it is suffice to say that sophistication is not present in copious supply. With only a small percentage of Cornwall’s population having the benefit of higher education the term cultured doesn’t describe our population. We do have, what seems to be, a growing number who believe themselves to be refined and capable. If only these people could see themselves as other see them. An open mind can… Read more »
Hugger1
Guest
I think the city budget committee may have become tired of the circus that is known as TAG. When you have the number of changes TAG’s board of directors has had in the last few years it makes one question what is really going on. Chair Wyatt Walsh says things are going to change. But we’ve heard this song and dance before. And the only thing that changes in TAG’s board of directors. And TAG has a history of sending in incomplete and / or late documents when it comes to asking for taxpayer’s money. This is the first year… Read more »
Geoff Stephenson
Guest
Unfortunately, as we watch with interest, the twisting & turning of different groups & organizations who have in the past benefited from our tax dollars, the same question keeps popping up. Who will pay for all this & the same answer is as always, The taxpayer will foot the bill.I have listened with an open mind to suggestions to cut the fire department & police budgets & I agree that something has to be done. At the same time however, this must apply to all. I realize my opinion might not be well received, but being a taxpayer, I agree… Read more »
Hugger1
Guest
Geoff Stephenson said: Unfortunately, as we watch with interest, the twisting & turning of different groups & organizations who have in the past benefited from our tax dollars, the same question keeps popping up. Who will pay for all this & the same answer is as always, The taxpayer will foot the bill.I have listened with an open mind to suggestions to cut the fire department & police budgets & I agree that something has to be done. At the same time however, this must apply to all. I realize my opinion might not be well received, but being a… Read more »
Hugger1
Guest

Where did I say fire and police get a free ride? We have to be open to changes in fire and police. As for “rampant corporate welfare” it happens everywhere. Cornwall is NOT unique in that matter. Every department could come in with a 0% tax hike IF they wanted to. All they have to do is look deep into their operations and proposed budgets. But most departments don’t want to do that.

Brian
Guest
Thank you for this article Jamie. I find it disturbing that a city of our size cannot support our Art Gallery. Yes it doe appear that many changes have occurred concerning TAG but to cut all funding is really like throwing the baby out with the water. As you said it appears that TAG has a competent and invested board now. So it surely doesn’t look like the right time to shut things down. I for one would love to sign a petition to let our council members know how I feel. Art in all its forms adds to a… Read more »
brian
Guest

Will do Jamie..thx

jules
Guest
Jamie I just got to read as far as Mr. Oldham’s comment just now before I read the rest. I told all of you so many times that the albatross hanging around Cornwall’s neck so tight sinking Cornwall deep into debt was the one and only THE TAJE MAHAL AKA BENSON CENTRE and I warned all of you so many times with 3 professional ice pads Cornwall couldn’t even support a farm team some years ago and in no way can it support this albatross. I WARNED ALL OF YOU ABOUT THAT CRAZY THING AND I WAS RIGHT. Cornwall only… Read more »
jules
Guest

Jamie I love the art work of those two characters on council and it suits them to a T. I had a good chuckle looking at that and could identify them right away. LOL LOL. ROLF!

Wow!
Guest

@Jules
.
The Benson Centre was a done deal before this site started. And I dont believe public funds should go to the “arts” in Cornwall. Let them struggle or pick a new hobby.

Jean Beasceau
Guest
Jules…if Cornwall died a long time ago, why is it that you spend coutless hours on CORNWALLfreenews? Your comments about the Benson Centre are not only off topic, but utterly nonsensical. It’s one thing to be critical, it’s another to be hate filled. The old addage, if you have nothing nice to say… say nothing at all. If we want Cornwall to grow, we need to offer current and prospective residents something in return. We need arts athletics, nightlife, infrastructure etc… All come at a cost. I agree with David and Hugger on this issue. I struggle with the mindset… Read more »
Hugger1
Guest
It gets tiring reading the same old crap about Cornwall, it has to stop. The Benson Centre is not a Taj Mahal or an albatross. It is a basic community sports centre. With Cornwall’s history of “farm teams” I doubt we will see one here ever again. It was an expensive lesson. And hopefully the city learned from it. The Benson Centre does not have three professional ice pads. What it has is three NHL size ice pads. There is a difference. As for it costing us money, yes it does. But I ask you to name one city or… Read more »
David Oldham
Guest
Jules that was rather blunt and extremely harsh do you not think? Being down does not mean out. I like to think that Cornwall’s dark period lies behind us and that as our heads pull free of the sand we will see the light and recognize what needs to be done. There are a lot of good people in Cornwall Jules that simply lack the proper leadership to inspire and unite them in purpose and hope. Look at yourself Jules and admit that when you are full of purpose and focused on a goal the rush of energy tou experience… Read more »
David Oldham
Guest

ADMIN…poorly communicated on my part. What I wanted to convey was that without some sophistication from our leadership endorsing the arts in general than a cultural void remains unfulfilled.

willy5
Guest

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shutupjule
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Comment policy reminder

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mary bray
Guest

I hear the Benson Center mentioned often,I have been in it a couple of times,many people were using it.If my memory serves me,it was not the community center that got some people upset,it was the controversial sale of the land underneath it.

Tom
Guest

No offense, but do you think maybe they aren’t bothering with the arts because they don’t like you? Maybe they have a vendeta

David Oldham
Guest

No offense Tom but that would be suggesting that all concerned are small and petty people. Are some individuals small and petty, no doubt. Do some sink as low as carrying out a vendetta, perhaps. Suggesting collusion to undermine or cause direct injury, really? Do you think they are that smart?

Wow!
Guest

The retired chief of police of Ferguson, Missouri made roughly half of Parkinson’s package.
.
PPP at 2014 rates. Population insignificant.

Hugger1
Guest

Wow! said: March 12, 2015 at 6:00 pm
The retired chief of police of Ferguson, Missouri made roughly half of Parkinson’s package.
.
PPP at 2014 rates. Population insignificant.

And this means what?

Simon
Guest

If you recall Mac didn’t want the public library either (check his drivel in the S-F archives), but regardless of the cultural Philistines that roam city hall, art will survive.
————————————————————————
“The arts are essen­tial to any com­plete national life. The State owes it to itself to sus­tain and encour­age them….Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the rev­er­ence and delight which are their due.”

Winston L. S. Churchill
(the Royal Acad­emy on 30 April 1938):
————————————————————————

jules
Guest
Mr. Oldham I don’t know how long you have lived in Cornwall but I was born and raised there and lived there for a long time even during the 90’s I went back to live to be near mom who was dying of cancer. I left Cornwall in the mid 70’s 75 to be exact and it never changed one iota in mentality or any other way. Cornwall stayed way behind and you can see it by its mayor and council – the same old fossils around the horseshoe except for a few new ones who have no vision at… Read more »
Hugger1
Guest
Jules….seriously….don’t write novels when you post comments. In regard to the Bob Turner arena, yes it was ONLY 52 years old. But like the Si Miller it had not been kept up. It would have cost mega $$$ to bring it up to anywherenear acceptable standards. And doing that what would we have? Still a 52 year+ building with new plumbing, electrical, etc. How many arenas are still around that are 50+ years old? Not many. Building a multi-purpose sports facility (Benson Centre) is a lot cheaper than building two new arenas, an indoor multi-use sports field along with various… Read more »
Hugger1
Guest
Perhaps. But looking at other cities and their record of maintenance on older arenas it could have happened. If you know a new multi-purpose building is a possibility and / or on the horizon you cut back maintenance to a bare minimum. A perfect example of this is the old North Channel Bridge. SIBC knew a new bridge was a possibility, so bare minimum maintenance was done on the North Bridge for too long. Even if the maintenance would have been maintained on the Si MIller and Bob Turner arenas there would have been massive projects to remove asbestos and… Read more »
Simon
Guest

First off, the Kanebs and Bensons didn’t make a passel of money on the arena, it was PARIS Holdings and the chief partners Healy and Rose that were the winners — the Kanebs and Bensons are probably content to inflate their egos.

Secondly, losers are the taxpayers that bought this land, soaked in contaminant pollution from the leaking Big Ben.

Lastly, the best idea floated around for the Water Street and Bob Turner arenas, was to keep the ice plants and make them open air skating in winter, and ball hockey or skate parks for the other three seasons.

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