CORNWALL Ontario – Tonight council will most likely be giving out nearly $50K to an architectural firm for a feasibility study to create an arts centre in Cornwall or as many in our city are calling it, an utter waste of tax dollars.
The community has written cheques to out of town consultants before. Remember Culturescape? That wasn’t that long ago and cost between $80-$100K led by Denis Thibault and the EOTB.
That project has all but gone poof. A waste of money essentially.
As someone that is wearing another hat and working in the Arts culture of our region, an Arts Centre is the last thing we should be spending on in 2015.
For decades there’s been talk about having an Arts Centre when in fact the Public Art Gallery has been a defacto one for over 30 years. It has never been properly supported including this year seeing its budget cut to ZERO for a council that clearly doesn’t care about the arts and seems more interested in petty personal politics rather than what’s best for the community.
That the artists in the region lay down for this is indicative of the weakness overall of the artistic community.
The biggest issue is perspective. Arts in this area cannot be looked at municipally. It needs to be a regional partnership and funding between the counties, the city, and yes, Akwesasne. While that’s a daunting task, the reality is that the artists themselves are the biggest problem in moving forward.
There are various groups and studios with many personalities. Historically, even before I moved to this community 12 years ago there was infighting. How many complained about former TAG director Sylvie Lizotte, but she kept her facility open for twenty years in spite of under funding and difficult partners to work with.
Frankly not a single penny of tax dollars should be spent on consultants until the Arts community puts its own house in order and warrants expenditures.
An Art Centre isn’t a building, but what’s in it, and who created it. There have been many reports and ideas over the years. And if there is going to be any money spent it should have the input and consideration of artists themselves.
All of the proponents were Architectural firms. What ability do these firms have in the true feasibility of an Arts Centre in Cornwall? Building one yes, but whether it’s viable to have one?
Again, no representation from the arts or consideration. With all due respect not a single person in this group should be making any decisions on this issue including the Culture Plan committee which also has been an utter failure. Those making any decisions or recommendations should be working in the field or have clear experience in the arts.
To clarify, hockey people wanted the Benson Centre. They lobbied, they organized, and then the city responded.
That hasn’t happened in the arts.
Speaking of utter failure, YAC, an attempt to create an Arts Council with its boards rotating, no executive director, no real results after three years, and over thousands spent in funding, and no real vision or leadership in the arts community. Essentially at this point its become a mouthpiece for certain politicians. It recently essentially gave up and reduced its membership fee to zero which invalidates the metrics of having a membership for institutional purposes.
Again, with the city’s only real independent art institution, its 33 year old public art gallery struggling after seeing its funding cut from the city, could any serious consultant recommend moving forward or investing in an art centre?
The gallery itself is under utilized while other art groups clamour for space and funding. Does that make sense?
A responsible council will vote against this consultant and hold onto those dollars to invest in the arts themselves.
Arts are critical to a community in multiples of ways, but it requires support and investment to make them thrive.
What do you think dear CFN viewers? Should Cornwall write this cheque? You can post your comments below.
Disclosure: I sit on the board of our art gallery, but am not speaking on behalf of the gallery or our board.