Bruce Davis worked as a producer in the film and television industry for thirteen years in Toronto. He moved to Iroquois Ontario, and was hired by the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Community Futures Development Corporation to spearhead the development of the area’s cultural sector and to help implement the Culturescape initiative. Since that time the SDG Culture website has been launched, the City of Cornwall formed a Culture Committee, and there was an Arts and Culture summit that elected an Arts Council.
Bruce Davis answers five questions for the Seeker. This interview was conducted by Jason Setnyk.
1. You are an artist yourself, with a background as a producer in the film and television industry. Can you tell us all about that?
I have over 17 years of professional feature film and television experience. It’s all I have ever done since I was a kid and I’ve always loved it. I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker when I was 12 years old and I got into Film and TV at the age of 15 as a Background performer and Production Assistant. I moved from there into Assistant Direction which is responsible for scheduling, managing and running films sets, it is a very stressful demanding job that I love. This landed me into the Directors Guild of Canada and from there I stumbled into writing a producing. Four years ago I wrote and produced a movie of the week for LifeTime in the US. I have worked on multi-million dollar feature film projects for Paramount, New Line Cinema, Disney, NBC to name a few.
2. What is your preferred medium and preferred subject as an artist? Tell us about your ‘method’ and your thinking process to create new art.
This is a tricky question Jason but a good one. I fluctuate from medium to medium. Lately I have found that my passion lies in photography. I put my camera down at the age of 20 only to have picked it back up two years ago. Three years ago writing was my focused medium and within the writing discipline I fluctuate from prose fiction to screenplays to even stage plays. It all depends on the which way the wind is blowing I suppose. I want to create and reflect what inspires me. If I see something I want to capture it, either in story form or though a photograph and tomorrow I may want to try expressing myself through acting on the stage. Who knows.
3. You sit with the Cultural Plan Committee and with the Arts Council. Both organizations are still relatively new and defining their roles, however there has been some confusion about what each organization does. Both groups serve very different functions, but can you explain what the difference is between the two organizations?
The answer to this question requires participation from my colleague, Todd Bennett, the Chair of the Cultural Advisory Committee but I can speak in part on this subject. An Arts Council is a Not For Profit organization with a Board of Directors that provides and delivers services to the community it serves — in this case SD&G and the City if Cornwall. These services can range from and include producing arts related events, promotion, advocacy, collaboration with other organizations to assist in delivering events or activities, business skills development as an artist, as well as a partner with local artist, municipalities, cities, and regional organizations. A committee is a collection of individuals from within the community that sit at a table, with a formal mandate that typically advises a group, organization and in this case the City of Cornwall on needs and requirements. It can also provide suggestions on how to move forward with an initiative. Both Todd and I have a great working relationship and are currently building towards something that ensures that arts and culture can thrive in our region by both providing separate but equally important roles for our community. We are collaborating on many initiatives. Representatives from both organizations sit at their respective tables to ensure a good line of communication is open and constant.
4. When you first read the Culture plan what surprised you the most about its findings?
What stood out most for me was the fact that an arts council did not currently exist and the last one to have existed was over 20 years ago. SD&G and Cornwall is a region that I would expect to have a fully functioning arts council with a 25 year track record. It doesn’t but we are in an exciting position to build on this newly formed arts council if everyone can work together and is willing to do their part. Arts Councils are grass roots organizations that begin within the local community and grow out relationships and partnerships from there. There are a lot of arts groups in our region but those are not arts councils, they are groups and an arts council cab be of great help to these various groups and organizations and vice versa, these groups could be of great help to the Cornwall & The Counties Arts Council. The objective is to build arts and culture for this region to better our collective quality of life though arts and culture. An arts council gets to help all groups and organizations, they get to provide top level pan regional support to the community so those local groups can focus on their niche, disciplines and local membership.
5. The culture plan made a series of recommendations. Which recommendations have been met, which ones are still in the works, and which ones still need to be addressed? How is the process coming along to strengthen the arts and culture sector of this area?
Another good question Jason. In just over a year, the Culture Map was one key recommendation made by the Culturescape that was met by the SD&G Community Futures Development Corporation. The Culture Map currently resides on www.sdgculture.ca. Another key recommendation was the formation of the Arts Council and that currently exists as of last September and the council is currently building towards providing needed and desired services to the community of SD&G and Cornwall. There are currently several other recommendations made in the Culturescape Report and rather than listing them all here I encourage everyone to read the report for themselves and tell me what they think is outstanding. The Arts Council and the Cultural Advisory Committee of Cornwall are working very hard to strengthen the arts and culture sector of this area. Both entities are working toward bringing everyone together, making recommendations and providing arts and culture related services for this community.
Thank you Bruce Davis for this interview. The Seeker values arts and culture as an important part of our community, and we value the work you have done.