I read with interest the article in the Standard-Freeholder on January 12 about the proposal to create a Recreation, Culture and Placemaking Committee. While the idea might have some merit in terms of expediency, there are several important factors to consider.
The city of Cornwall has many sports/recreation facilities: soccer fields, hockey arenas, baseball facilities, football fields …. to name but a few; however, there are very few arts and culture venues and it is not difficult to imagine that “Arts and Culture” will get lost in the money fray when push comes to shove. The arts and culture are critical to the health of a community – both emotional and mental.
In 2018, the city decided to act on the Culturescape report (2012) and to go ahead with the proposal that the city have an Arts and Culture Centre which would become a focal point for the arts and for culture in the city. Had it not been for COVID, the citizens of Cornwall would today be able to know what is happening arts-wise in the city by referring to one central point; we would have an Arts building with a professionally-trained Arts Coordinator; and we would be enjoying the various arts events and performances that this city would have to offer; AND we would be justly proud of our arts and culture facility. It does not take long to list those in the arts who have had to move from Cornwall and have left their mark on the national culture scene: James Fagan Tait, Kate Ashby, Duncan MacIntosh, Louise-Andrée Baril, Ryan Gosling, Alan and Audrey Bain, Joel Derouin, Janet Irwin, Veronica Maguire ……. It would be wonderful to have them return to a venue that would do honour to their talents.
Not to allow an Arts and Culture Committee in Cornwall to stand on its own is to do a disservice to the community. To date, this community has contributed over $1.3 million dollars to the arts centre fundraising project. Perhaps before continuing down the road of blending sports and arts and culture and recreation and place making , the proposers and supporters should read the Culturescape report and its proposals, should speak to the stakeholders in the Arts Community, should take in some of the local arts events, and should contribute to the Arts and Culture fundraising drive so that they have a vested interest in the arts. If, in 20 years, there is a move to blend the arts into another committee, so be it – by then, Arts and Culture will have either thrived or died – meanwhile, “Arts and Culture” in Cornwall needs the time and energy and focus to grow on its own– otherwise the efforts of the arts community have been in vain.
Arts and Culture Centre Community Fundraising Chair