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Candidates respond: How would you support the arts on City Council?

How would you support the arts on City Council?

Guelph Arts Council has championed the arts in Guelph since 1975. We believe in the intrinsic value of artists and the arts, and their ability to inspire positive transformation for individuals and communities. At GAC we know that our many members and friends feel the same way, so we’ve polled mayoral and councillor candidates for municipal election to find out how, if elected, they will support the arts on City Council.

The following candidates responded immediately to our question, but we will continue to update this article online as additional responses are received. For a complete list of candidates, visit vote.guelph.ca. Please check back for updates, and don’t forget to vote on October 22!

Charlene Downey, Ward 1

Once upon a time ago I realized that one did not have to be a fine artist in order to be an artist, the path to creativity is as wide as the ocean is deep.  

I am an award winning artisan, Noggins to those of you who may not know.

I support the arts by making the majority of my "new" purchases from local artisans.

I support the arts by organizing events for local artisans.

I support the arts by helping new artisans make connections.

I will continue to support the arts by being an active member of the community itself.

I am excited to offer my continuing support on a larger scale when elected.

I will support the arts as art defies borders, builds bridges, provides hope and colours dreams.

Barbara Mann, Ward 1

Having grown up in Guelph, I have had the pleasure of helping get many cultural initiatives off the ground. This includes being the first office volunteer for the Hillside Festival, and a Board Member and Volunteer Coordinator for the Guelph Jazz Festival in its second year. I also volunteered for many of the early years of the Eden Mills Writers Festival. I am still a volunteer with one of these festivals, the others a patron. I have also been a guide for Doors Open, made a clay tile for the Enabling Garden, participated in many a Musagetes focus group and event. As a Co-coordinator of Jane’s Walk Guelph, we have always ensured that Jane’s Walks have included walks that share about the arts and culture of Guelph. These have included but are not limited to dance, spoken word, the Public Art of Downtown, music, the guitar (and stories behind the wood it is made from) made by Doug Larson and graffiti. I love going to see local artists work whether at Art on the Street, in their studio, hanging in a local restaurant or gallery, and I own a variety of pieces of art.

I believe that the arts and culture of a city are critical to a vibrant quality of life, and the health of a community. It is this quality of life that attracts industry and investment to an area because, these are places where people want to live and work. So, if I were to be elected to Council, I would  

  • continue to support all of the initiatives already offered by the City of Guelph: from grants to generators; water trucks; artist in residence, partnerships with groups such as the Art Council and beautiful spaces like Market Square
  • encourage an increase to the amounts available for grants and split the Wellbeing Grant, to include an Arts and Culture Grant
  • advocate for an artist hub and incubator space (too long overdue) and, as was done with the Guelph Youth Music Centre, use a building already owned by the City of Guelph to create this space
  • encourage the Chamber of Commerce, Innovation Guelph, Economic development Guelph, and Tourism Guelph to work with and support the Guelph Black Heritage Society in their endeavor to make Heritage Hall an accessible community space for arts, culture and history (like 918 Bathurst, TO) and, later for those groups to do the same with the above mentioned artist hub and incubator space
  • encourage the same groups to entice a for profit landlord or developer, to create an art centre like 401 Richmond, TO which has a gallery, studio space, restaurant and garden – a tourist destination
  • continue to provide funding for the City of Guelph to hire artists to create public art, or performances
  • present a motion for an Arts and Culture Master Plan that will build on Guelph’s current cultural resources, vibrant community and collaborative community partnerships. It should be the guiding document that continues to elevate Guelph as a destination for creativity, innovation, and excellence in the arts. A master plan that would also highlight the challenges faced by members of the arts and culture community in Guelph. And, provide solutions to these challenges.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                          (226) 979-7197                                barbaramann.ca

James Gordon, Ward 2

As someone who has a career in the cultural sector as an artist, it’s been a top priority for me as a councillor to promote the arts in our city, which has an international reputation for its many creators. While we are home to a large number of musicians, visual artists and dancers we always seem to be underserviced with welcoming venues, studio space, resources and other support. These hard-working people put us on the map as a cultural destination. We owe them the support they need to continue to represent us. As you know, every dollar invested in the arts brings in at least two back into the community. As the founding artistic director of the Hillside festival I witnessed the tremendous benefit to the well-being of our community that events like that can provide.

So at the municipal level, what can we do?

Some cities require that developers provide one percent of their development charges towards public art. I'd love to emulate this here. As a library board member I've been nudging the proposal for our new main library towards offering performance, workshop and studio space. I have also long advocated for a 'community arts centre' perhaps in the old Delhi Rec Centre or the Drill Hall, both owned by the city, that could offer space and support. I would also like to see a 'local' subsidy for rental space in the River Run Centre. The cost is prohibitive for emerging artists. We are blessed with many successful festivals... we could use one more in my view focusing on local talent exclusively.

We have come a long way, but we still need as a society to value our artists more. A city-supported initiative coupled with a web-based data site could encourage citizens to attend events and purchase their work. Toronto has some good examples of affordable live/work co-operative housing projects. Guelph could use this as our housing costs skyrocket. We were once a destination for artists because of our affordability. As this erodes we need to find tools for more support.

To conclude I'd say that I plan, if re-elected, to be the 'designated artist spokesperson' on council. (yes, it's a self-appointed role :)  I'll be continuing to press council into understanding how much of an economic driver the arts can be, and how our reputation is drawing businesses offering good jobs and new residents who recognize the enhanced quality of life they find in coming to a city with so much to offer in the artistic realm.

We also need as a city to support the Guelph Arts Council more. They do amazing work!

Mary Thring, Ward 2

When I was a student at the Ontario College of Art, our instructors (all of whom were practicing professionals) regularly reminded us that our choice of developing as creative people would likely entail financial sacrifice: i.e. if you're in this for the money, its likely not for you.  I now make a living as a writer which is certainly not the most lucrative path I could have chosen.  So, I know from artists and the arts.

Guelph has a lively arts scene, for which we should all be grateful.  At the same time, I know a number of creative people who have left the city because of the cost of housing.  As Councillor for Ward 2, I would do my best to ensure affordability and that the city has a broad range of housing options - including legal and safe live-work spaces.  That, and protecting and enhancing our green spaces (for the restorative and inspirational effects of nature) can help ensure that Guelph can continue to welcome and nurture the vital creative souls among us.

Indu Arora, Ward 4

Guelph has a vibrant arts community and I believe more artists need to be supported by the community.  I am in favour of arts promotion through various initiatives such as the artist in residence, Art on the Street and Doors Open Guelph.    As the mother of a budding artist, I see the importance of promoting and encouraging our younger generation in their artistic pursuits.  I will continue to promote Little Maker events and similar events so the younger generation can create art, display their art and sell their art as well.  One additional item I would like to encourage is more art in our parks.   The park Margaret Greene in Ward 4 is a very large park and it would be great to have some public art in our larger parks.  This would encourage more artists to come forth and have their art displayed in our parks as well.

Mike Salisbury, Ward 4

I moved to Guelph in the  early 90's  because of its unique culture, and the sense of community. I often find that when people approach me as a City Councillor to discuss economic development, they speak about the importance of low taxes and economic incentives to attract new businesses. These issues are certainly important, however I believe the role of cultural economics; trails, parks, the arts scene, local activism, festivals, good architecture and civic design... are vital in attracting people, businesses, families and employers in the new economy.

As an artist member of the Guelph Arts Council I would show my support by continuing to pay my dues.

Cathy Downer, Ward 5

I grew up steeped in the appreciation of the arts!  I come from a family with members that were artists, professionally and as passionate hobbyists. I married a musician. I love attending local festivals, art shows and live music events. I continue to volunteer at the Guelph Youth Music Centre and the annual Doors Open Guelph. 

Arts, culture and heritage are key to the City’s success as a vibrant and progressive community that is able to attract new residents and businesses. It is also important to our social wellbeing. Our beautiful, historic Downtown is a great backdrop to the many festivals and cultural events that bring our community together and attracts tourists from close by and far away.

I don’t believe the importance of Arts and Culture is fully recognized by many living here and is somewhat taken for granted. As vibrant and diverse as our arts community is, there are many challenges  - space, funding, marketing resources. We have so much more potential. 

I will continue to support the arts and artists in our community though programs like the Public Art and Artist in Residence. We need to ensure these are programs that are adequately funded. Also, I support the pursuit of partnerships and collaborations. The recent RTO4 Destination Guelph initiative was a great example of working together to identify our tourism opportunities/ challenges, where to focus resources  and how to move forward collaboratively with some great ideas. I had the pleasure of being a steering committee member of Destination Guelph. 

The Recreation, Parks and Culture Strategic Master Plan is due to be updated in 2019. I believe that Arts and Culture should be separated out of this review. We should have a stand alone Arts and Culture Master Strategic Plan. This would provide for a specific focus and prominence of the arts in our community.   It also would ensure the recognition of the economic and social importance of arts and culture to the wellbeing of our City. 

Alex Green, Ward 5

I've always been a big supporter of the arts in Guelph, and whether I'm elected or not, I'll continue to support them in the best way I know how: By attending events and encouraging everyone I know to attend as well. Of course, that becomes a lot easier with access to the higher platform enjoyed by a city councillor. I will absolutely just promote the heck out of any arts event that comes to my attention, and I'll encourage the city to make use of its social media platforms to do the same. A little bit of free PR can go a long way.

Aside from that, there are simple things like maintaining adequate grant funding, and taking a look at the permitting process to see if there's a way to make things faster and simpler for artistic events that require use of city spaces or facilities. Supporting the arts is vital, but it doesn't need to be a complicated process.

Leanne Piper, Ward 5

I have been, and will continue to be, a strong advocate for the arts. During my past terms of office, I supported the City's first Public Art Policy, civic events, funding for the River Run Centre, Guelph Museums and Art Gallery of Guelph, and increased funding for community grants (which in turn support Guelph Jazz Festival, Dance Festival, Hillside Festival, and more). Protecting and promoting our cultural heritage through new policies and increased incentives for restoration, designation and preservation of architectural and landscape heritage are initiatives I plan to advocate for during the next term. A thriving arts sector is essential to our quality of life, economic prosperity and social justice. I believe that access to explore and enjoy music, theatre, film, dance and other forms of artistic expression should not be limited by socio-economic status, age or mobility and will support funding that makes the arts accessible to all.

Stacy Cooper, Ward 6

When I read that article the other day about how Wellington Brewery paired up with a Waterloo-based initiative for artists, and then with Guelph artists for a two-day exhibition, I thought that's the way to inspire the next generation and to promote the arts in a fun and creative way.  Artspay.org is the organizer.  Supporting initiatives like that are easy and cost-effective, and would make me want to take the tour with so many different artists to see.  I find that using the brew houses as well is a win-win for both.

Anshu Khurana, Ward 6

Art is an expression for sharing one’s belief, culture or a concept. It helps the viewer to adjust his/her lenses. When I think of Art, I think of life. I visualise the colors on a canvas depicting every moment of life. The strokes of the brush share the moment of expression and the colors express the emotion that brings that canvas to life. I will always promote Art Council because I am a story teller and I love to share and hear stories through different forms of art. It could be too loud or completely silent or it may be too wordy or just the expressions. That’s the way I see art because it has helped to shape my beliefs and my values. Sometimes it’s just imagination. It’s an amazing way to engage and strengthen the communities and share the culture. It is the best way of creative learning, mobilizing communities, celebrating differences and sharing diversities. I would support and promote Arts and will promote more community engagement when there is any art event.

Dominique O’Rourke, Ward 6

As the researcher and author of a  special report on Art & Belonging for Community Foundations of Canada, I understand the vital importance of a vibrant arts community - not only for its valuable economic impact but also its intrinsic contribution to the overall wellbeing. Whether people are actively engaged in creation or performance, attending events or even just aware of what’s going on, the presence of the arts build a sense of place and of pride. Municipalities have an important role to play in providing facilities where the arts can flourish, including libraries which often have an important role in Culture Days. If elected, I will support partnerships with the arts and the maintenance or enhancement of our current facilities. I will ensure the arts have a role in our economic development and tourism plans. I will also encourage arts programming to include people of all ages and backgrounds and believe the River Run Centre did a great job in including diversity in its programming this year.

You can find out more about me at www.orourkeward6.ca

Event honours Sue Smith’s contributions to music and youth

Sue Smith photo by Trina KosterSue Smith, Photo by Trina Koster

By Jane Litchfield

Music, youth, and community will be in the spotlight on Sunday, September 30, as Guelph singer, songwriter, writer, teacher, and community builder Sue Smith becomes the newest inductee to The Guelph Youth Music Centre’s Wall of Fame.

“Sue Smith has generously parlayed her love of music and her creative spirit into teaching and empowering young people in Guelph for three decades,” GYMC said in a news release. “Hundreds of students have begun their musical journeys of discovery in Sue's piano and singing studios and through her two popular musical youth initiatives.”

Read more ...

Musicians invited to speak out on copyright

by Jane Litchfield

The topic of musicians’ livelihood was on the table when a number of musicians met with Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield on September 5 at Guelph Arts Council’s space.

Longfield invited the musicians, including Guelph-born fiddler-singer Miranda Mulholland and Guelph singer-songwriter James Gordon, to give him their thoughts so he could take them to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology he sits on, which is currently reviewing the Copyright Act.

Longfield said the goal is to protect musicians’ intellectual property and also to help create a successful living for performing artists. He continues to welcome feedback at  mplongfield.ca.

Mulholland, who does advocacy work for artists’ rights, spoke about the Music Canada report on the “value gap” – the difference between the value of creative content that consumers enjoy and the revenues that are returned to the creators. In other words: music usage is up, but musicians’ revenues are down. She agreed with Longfield that the music marketplace is not functioning and emphasized that musicians are small businesses who need a working marketplace like any other. She said the need for action is urgent.

Mulholland also pointed out that today’s artists need to work to educate consumers on how to support them. (See tips below.) She says she got into the industry in 1998-99, right when it changed. She noticed that musicians before her could own a house, yet she could not, despite being a multiple award winner. She wondered “What am I doing wrong?”

Mulholland, who owns her own record label, says with so many ways to consume music now, the “middlemen have multiplied” and creators must now be data clerks as well. When it comes to funding, they now need to hire a grant writer, which also costs money.

Gordon, who has been in the music business for 40 years, says “we need a huge cultural shift.” He has also lobbied on copyright and says the irony is that artists are drawn to this work because they want to have a voice, but they don’t have a voice on this issue. He says people are surprised to find out how little musicians make from Spotify (about $0.004 per play; YouTube pays much less).

End safe harbours for tech giants

The group agrees that safe harbours for online service providers is a major issue. Longfield notes that the rules and regulations must change to address this issue, because in many cases the companies are following existing rules.

Other comments at the table:

  • After legislative changes in 2012, the marketplace went from bad to worse
  • Musicians are reluctant to complain publicly about giants such as Google Play, Spotify and YouTube
  • YouTube uses musicians to collect data on people
  • The Top 10 albums are 99% of what gets played, eliminating non-mainstream ideas
  • Re TV show and film royalties, composers get paid but performers don’t
  • Radio royalty exemptions need to change now
  • Many creators now handle their own booking, marketing and design as well
  • Arts organizations need artists on their boards: “Nothing about me without me”
  • Should a non-profit incubator for artists, such as Silence Guelph, have to pay licensing fees?
  • Consumers need to find ways to support touring and recording artists
  • Micro-granting would help launch small artists
  • Canada does not place enough value on artists compared to countries like Germany
  • Artists are told they need to adapt, but the policies need to adapt, too
  • Musicians feel their industry is at crisis stage and the need for action is urgent

Your feedback requested

The industry committee expects its copyright review to run into next year, with the hope of completing the hearings by early 2019.

Longfield says it is helpful if he can go back to his committee and say he has feedback from artists. In addition to this roundtable, he is interested in hearing from songwriters, performers, publishers, and broadcaster on topics including the 2012 changes to collective exception to broadcasters; interactions with CRTC and others; reimbursement/royalty models; reproduction and retransmission (online, streaming, hard copies, sound tracks).

**Submit comments for MP Lloyd Longfield at mplongfield.ca

More news and resources

You can find news on recent changes to copyright regulations in the U.S. and E.U. at musiccanada.com,  along with testimony by Graham Henderson, president and CEO of Music Canada before the standing committee on Canadian Heritage. Mulholland also appeared before the committee on September 20 and Music Canada tweeted her testimony @Music_Canada.

Mulholland refers concerned people to the Focus on Creators website. Focus on Creators is “a coalition of Canadian musicians, authors, songwriters, and other members of the creative class, which was created to bring focus to the artists’ perspective in light of some major federal cultural policy activities.” They have prepared a joint letter to Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez, which Canadian creators can sign.

Also, see our recent articles on 5 Resource Organizations for Musicians and How Do Artists Make Money?

Whether you are an artist, consumer, or in government, you can also find tips on how to improve Canada’s music ecosystem at mirandamulholland.ca under Advocacy.  

Mulholland’s tips on how fans can help:

  • Follow artists on social media
  • Sign up for artists’ newsletters
  • If on YouTube, sign up for their channel
  • On Spotify, share songs using the share tool
  • Write reviews and rate
  • Buy online albums on the release date

Meanwhile, as Mulholland suggests, if you love an album or a book, buy it – and buy one to give to a friend.

Save-the-Date for GAC Fall Workshops

Keep an eye on Arts Blast, guelpharts.ca, and our tweets and posts for registration details of at least two workshops this fall. First up is a co-presentation with Guelph Spoken Word and Meridian Credit Union on Weds Oct 31 (that’s right – Halloween), 1 pm, 10C Shared Space. If making art is your jam, but budgets and taxes not so much, you’ll want to come to this speedy (and not-too-spooky!) two-hour session, presented as part of the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, hosted in Guelph from October 28 – November 4.

Next up is another collaboration (we love our collabs at GAC!) with the School of Fine Art and Music, University of Guelph, and the Art Gallery of Guelph on Thurs Nov 15, 6 – 9 pm, at the AGG. We’re revisiting last year’s Opportunity Knocks session with a bit of a different spin. This year we’ll explore how creators can innovate in creating and pursuing opportunities. A group of diverse arts professionals will share their stories and lessons learned in an evening of conversation.

These professional development opportunities are intended for artists and arts workers of all disciplines. Hope to see you at these and other upcoming GAC events!

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