There is not doubt in my mind that Arts and Culture are at the heart of every community. Cornwall is no different.
We have no lack of talent in this town. Just take, for example, the fabulous production of Les Misérables recently put on by the Seaway Valley Theater Company and you’ll agree with me. We are blessed with proficient and accomplished talent all around.
We have an abundance of musicians, visual artists, writers that are simply fabulous. Yet each and every single one of them seem to struggle with making a living out of their art. Most work full time and can only devote their spare time to doing what they love to do.
To make matters worse, artists in this community don’t really have a place they can call home. Sure, there is the art gallery for the painters, Aultsville Hall for the actors and the library for the writers, but no such thing as a real Cultural hub where all the disciplines unite. Sports have the Benson Centre, why is it so difficult for artists to have an Art Centre?
I understand that there is a lot of infrastructure to be put in place, but part of the problem, in my opinion, is all the talking that is being done. My perception, as a citizen, is that groups come and go. Council this, committee that… They all come together, some funded, others not, and they talk. They talk and talk and talk. Then they pull back to analyze the results of all that talk and conclude that artists not only want a home, but more importantly NEED a home. And then, it’s on to the next phase. Another group is borne from the previous one and they get together for more talks. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking. Talking is good, communication is healthy, but at some point, all that talk has to turn to action.
Todd Bennet, chair of the Culture Plan Committee, told attendees of a YAC Let’s Talk event last Wednesday that “we are closer now than we have ever been to getting an art centre”. Could this be?
Citizens want to take matters into their own hands. A new movement, the “Centre for the Arts Collective” seem to be trying to achieve just that. This group–a group for all those looking to see a Center for the Arts become a reality in Cornwall– launched their platform this morning (Friday Feb 14). Heart for Art, the first of many planed fundraisers, aims to amass funds for a future Culture and Art Centre. It wants to show the city, by means of money, that artists are serious. Will council listen?
I remember, four years ago, all those big promises council candidates made to the arts community. I remember hearing how everybody thought Arts and Culture deserved to have a prominent presence in chambers. It is true that arts have found a louder voice over the last term, but they are a long way from getting the attention they should get. Let’s not talk anymore. Let’s SHOUT!
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