The Arts are something we roll out every election in Cornwall. These last few years have seen them politicized with Elaine MacDonald bullying her way through them with the use of a few Trillium grants.
Currently Cornwall subsidizes the Aultsville Theatre and has subsidized our local art gallery; both essentially returning less value to the community than we get from our all too generous donation to the Woodhouse museum.
All of us know that the actual borrowing and reading of actual hard copy printed books is not rising yet we have two downtown libraries in Cornwall; one for the Counties and one for our fair city.
The City library is in a stunning building that truly should be converted into our very own downtown Art Centre. There really is no doubt or question; but it’s a tricky canard politically. The book lending can be done easily from the Counties library which would leave the City Library to be converted which would not take that much doing.
It already has screening rooms upstairs and the high ceilings downstairs mean a small auditorium could be built. There’s actual parking behind the library too which would make evening and weekend events more possible.
The problem is shaking people into moving forward in this direction and that comes down to the horrible culture of our arts community in Cornwall.
Four years ago Mayor Kilger called our library a jewel. Listen to his words about arts; but do you see him at arts events? Have you ever seen him at the Port Theatre events? History and our heritage are being saved at our 75 year old original Roxy theatre. It’s still running movies, but also is showing local bands and concerts.
His speech above is full of blarney and vigor; but was not backed up by action. None really. Can we afford another four years of hot air? What momentum is he actually talking about?
Four years later listen to his words at the end? Have we improved?
Compared to the sports community our Arts & Culture groups are one hot mess. Our best artists rarely work with them, and they don’t do much to promote or elevate our area profile. There isn’t much glory in the arts in our city right now.
And until that happens, until the arts community can pull itself together and work in a cohesive group, we can’t really focus resources on an art centre.
That saddens me as an artist myself. What saddens me more is the massive amount of tax dollars that we are giving to Aultsville Theatre, the Woodhouse Museum, and TAG at the moment vs the return. That has to be reviewed. The community has to get value for any monies we donate or subsidize with. Personally I’d rather stream some of those dollars into a fund for when we are ready rather than continue to subsidize St. Lawrence College’s auditorium.
Arts = yes. Waste = no.
All one has to do is look to our neighbors in Brockville and see what happens when a community works together. Their Arts Centre is text book of how valuable and the impact a project of this nature can have for a city, especially its downtown core. We need this in Cornwall; but not until we have a cohesive and strong Arts Community that is committed to strong principles and leaves the Hatfield and McCoy behavior at the door, and becomes more inclusive.
And we need to keep people like Elaine MacDonald from bullying and having control. Any initiatives should be transparent and accountable to those that pay for it, and that would be the rate payers of our city and region.
Election Day is October 27th. If you want change in our city. If you want vision. If you want leadership. There is only one choice on your ballot for Mayor.
First on the list; first for Cornwall!
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