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Consider Your Candidates

With an election looming, there are a wealth of issues that are being addressed by candidates and citizens alike. Each of the candidates are taking time to address the issues that have been brought up in the debates, newspaper articles, individual candidate platforms, and social media discussions that have taken place in the last few weeks.

What should you bring up when reviewing your candidates?

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As artists, art supporters, and community members, it is our duty to ask our candidates where they stand on issues that are important to us. Here, at the arts council, it is no surprise that the arts and culture sector is of prime importance as it is central to all we do. When speaking with the many candidates about their own platform to support the creative industries, I think it is very important that we as citizens reflect back to our candidates that arts and culture are not simply leisure activities. As a sector, we add to the vibrancy of community, we tell the story of our community members, and as artists, arts administrators, and creative thinkers, we add to the economic health of our community. Too often, contributions, payments, and purchases made to support artists and arts organizations are likened to handouts. The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. Artists are small businesses and contributors to the enterprising landscape of Guelph. More broadly speaking, Statistics Canada reports that $53.2 billion is contributed to the GDP by our cultural sector annually[1]. This number can be applied locally and the effects are felt by other businesses including hotels, restaurants, retail, and other attractions. In fact, a report commissioned by the Ontario Arts Council states that the average Ontario arts and culture tourist spends twice as much per trip as does a typical tourist – $667 per trip versus $374[2].

But it isn't just dollars and cents with the arts. Those of us who have experienced the power of arts can attest to the arts as both indicative of wellbeing and a tool to stimulate wellbeing. A report from Hill Strategies confirms this finding, stating that participants in cultural activities have significantly better results when reporting on their health verses non-cultural participants. The data in the report shows that there is a strong connection between 18 cultural activities and eight indicators of health and well-being[3].

With all of this data (and believe me, there is way more than I can list in this short note) it becomes evident that investment and support of the arts has a direct correlation to how we live and how we experience happiness, economic vitality, and wellbeing in our community. With this in mind, I encourage every citizen to put arts on the table when choosing your candidates for this upcoming election. Voting and engaging your candidates in a conversation about the arts and culture in your community will make all the difference as we work together to make Guelph one of Canada's great creative cities!

Sonya Poweska, Executive Director

Guelph Arts Council

[1]Statistics Canada,Culture Satellite Account, 2014.

[2] Research Resolutions & Consulting,Ontario Arts and Culture Tourism Profile, 2013.

[3]Hill Strategies, The Arts and Individual Well-Being in Canada, 2013.

Another Amazing Season for Tea and Tales

Friday, August 29, saw the conclusion of another successful year of Tea and Tales at the Guelph Enabling Garden in Riverside park. Tea and Tales is a collaboration between the garden and the Guelph Guild of Storytellers. Since 2007, every Friday morning in July and August, an array of storytellers and entertainers come from all over Ontario to entertain local residents, guests, and casual passersby.

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These events are admission free and even come with your choice of tea. Donations gratefully accepted. Run entirely by volunteers, Tea and Tales success is a testament to the community in which it is held. Organizer and storyteller, Brian Holstein, calls it a “connection point for the community, a place to activate the imagination, and plant the seeds for community connections.” The Enabling Garden is located behind the Evergreen Seniors’ Centre and is already a space dedicated to inclusiveness and accessibility. What better location to draw in the community for a morning of entertainment? This week’s send-off show featured storytellers Frank Toplin, Brian Holstein, and musician Tannis Slimmon. A rapt audience of all ages sat by the river under cover of shade and was taken on one adventure after another. This amazing community collaboration is truly one of Guelph’s hidden gems. Here’s to many more successful seasons!

Guelph School of Art Gets Hands-On for Culture Days!

As Culture Days wound toward a close in Guelph, people gathered above Wyndham Art Supplies at the GSA to get up close and personal with art-making materials. The school's director, Laura Paghal, came up with the idea to pair a demo of Gamblin oil paints and mediums with an “Art Materials Petting Zoo.” The free afternoon event began with a demo led by Elora-based artist and former GSA instructor Phil Irish. More seminar than sales pitch, Phil taught attendees about a variety of Gamblin paints and mediums and how to use them. A medium, for those who don't know, refers in a wider sense to the material used to make a work of art. Paint, marble, clay, film and photography are common examples of visual artistic media. That said, it's worth checking out the staggering variety of less-traditional media contemporary artists are using. In this case though, medium has a more specific meaning: liquids and semi-solids of varying chemical properties which, when mixed with paint, alter its substance and behaviour such as flow, texture, and drying rate in amazing ways.

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Irish had an offer to work for a paint company, but found he didn't actually like working with their particular product. Knowing he needed to stand behind a product he believed in, he thought about which materials he truly loved to work with, and approached the company who made them to see if they couldn't work together to their mutual benefit. Endorsed as a teacher by the former director of GSA, Irish is now the only Canadian Gamblin rep. In addition to having access to a deeper knowledge of materials and their properties, the company supplies him with quality materials to fuel his art practice. In this role, Phil not only shares his wealth of knowledge with demo attendees, but also supplies awesome (free!) goody bags of really nice mediums for artists of any experience level to experiment with.  

Following the demonstration, attendees rolled up their sleeves, threw on an apron, and got busy! Laura supplied a variety of mediums for people to try. There was a table with Indian ink with elegant bamboo brushes, another where indefatigable sticks of concentrated oil paint could be used to 'sketch' a painting.  Across the room, several children sat absorbed with the luminous chalk pastels they were provided, using them on heavy black paper to great effect. And of course, we got to try the mediums and paints used in the demo, on board, stretched canvas, and canvas cloth. What a treat!

Guelph School of Art hosts these types of demos about 6 times per year: two in fall, two in winter, and two in spring. They host their next free demo, this time with Golden Artist Colours, from 1-3 p.m. this coming weekend, Oct 5th, 2014. Get in touch with GSA to save yourself a spot.

Maybe we will see more "Stay and Play" type activities follow these demos in the future!

City of Guelph Seeks Public Art Advisors

Are you a resident of Guelph with significant experience in Arts and Culture? The City of Guelph is reaching out to find members for its Public Art Advisory Committee. The committee's role in Guelph is to steward and promote public art policy and enliven our public spaces. Over the coming year, these seven key people will "provide strategic input and advice to Council and Staff on matters pertaining to public art in the City of Guelph".

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They are looking for a cross section of skills and professional experience ranging from urban planning and architecture, to the performing, visual and literary arts, curation, heritage, education and more. For a full list of sought-after skills, see the Public Art Advisory Committee Terms of Reference.

As the committee meets throughout the year, they will play a crucial role in bringing inspiring and engaging artwork to our city, and building the identity of Guelph as a strong cultural centre.

Do you have what it takes?

Fill out the application and submit by October 9. Help make Guelph one of Canada's great creative cities!

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