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Guelph Election Candidates Respond to #ArtsVote

Yesterday (October 23), Guelph Arts Council asked mayoral, council and school board trustee candidates to tell us about their position on the arts. This is what they had to say.


Mayoral Candidates’ Responses


Karen Farbridge said on Twitter:

“@guelpharts The #arts community in #Guelph is stunning & a big part of what makes us a brilliant city to live in #ArtsVote #GuelphFactor”

Cam Guthrie said on Twitter:

“@guelpharts As an artist who has worked along arts groups in #Guelph, I know the value they give to our city & they have my support!”

and “@guelpharts I'm a big supporter of the arts in Guelph. We're fortunate to enjoy so much local talent and such a vibrant arts culture!”

Ward Candidates' Responses


Maria Pezzano (Ward 1) said on Facebook: “Hi there here is my blog post for Arts and Culture http://mariapezzanoforward1.blogspot.ca/.../arts-and</a>...


James Gordon (Ward 2) said on Facebook: “Our artists and art consumers are at the heart of our city identity. If we find ways for our cultural sector to thrive and prosper, our whole city thrives and prospers too!”


Martin Collier (Ward 2) said on Facebook: “Being a long time musician, I totally support the arts -- see my bold ideas to promote what Guelph has to offer: http://www.martincollier.ca/bold-ideas.html#heritagearts


Sian Matwey (Ward 2) emailed to say:

“My name is Sian Matwey and I am the only female running in Ward 2 but what I wanted to tell you is what I am doing downtown Guelph with the people we feed at the Life Center....last year we fed 26,000 people in the basement of the Royal City Church.

But now I have brought my old Charity to them so we can use some of our "clients" to help paint murals. Here's a link to that page and an old article about how I am doing my part to support art.  




Thanks for all you do and if you live in my ward hopefully you will consider voting for me too!!”


June Hofland (Ward 3) emailed to “reinforce [her] strong support for Guelph’s arts and culture.”

“I will continue to support the work of the Guelph’s Arts Council.  I understand the vibrancy the arts brings to our community and of course how much it adds to the economic health of our community. I was also a small business owner for 12 years and understand the challenges of running a small local business. In closing I will work together to make Guelph one of Canada’s great creative cities!!  (Not my words I believe you said this at one of our council meetings).Thanks also to you [Guelph Arts Council] for your contributions you should be very proud of your work and your presence in our city.”*

*Guelph Arts Council has made minor edits for continuity.


Laurie Garbutt (Ward 4) emailed to say: “I want to express the driving force for my decision to move to Guelph 11 years ago. I've always been crazy about the arts: my degree is a Special Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts (composition and ethnomusicology). I was at a point in my life when I needed to pursue new and rewarding creative outlets. I was lured to Guelph's vast array of artistic opportunities and participation was available to all. I began my new artistic journey! Here are just a few of Guelph's attractions for me (and barely touching on the multitude of arts and culture activities in Guelph):

- enjoying local artisans of various creative disciplines, from outdoor contemporary dance (in a tree, accompanied by digeridoo), to pianos on downtown streets for any and all to play,

- top caliber musicals put on by Royal City Musical Productions twice yearly (I sang and danced in several choruses, musically directed approx. 11 shows, sat on the Board of Directors (including as VP and Co-president)

- Guelph Little Theatre: acting and musically directing

- providing my son with the means and skills to perform in many shows, from the age of 5

- the Guelph Multicultural Festival, Canada Day performances at Riverside Park, enjoying evenings in the park with the Guelph Concert Band, The 100K Diet,

- watching the creation of Guelph Community Singers and, the Guelph Arts Platform

- dance schools, Suzuki, Barber Glass Gallery, Gateway Strings, James Gordon

- the River Run Centre. Hillside Festival, Wow. Need I say more?

Do I support arts and culture? It's why I came here and why I love the place. This is an appreciative and nurturing artistic community. Let's keep this growing!”

School Board Trustees

Rob McLean said on Facebook: “Whew - thanks for the link - 140 characters on Twitter was tough. I just noted there that I believe arts education is absolutely critical to child development, and as a trustee candidate, that will be one of my primary guides in decision-making. However, I also believe that support for the arts is essential for municipal candidates, not only for the obvious social benefits of a thriving arts community, but because of the proven economic benefits too. I'll address these economic benefits, since that is often the perceived barrier to arts support. As a sector, arts & culture represents a huge economic engine in Canada - much larger than many standard pillars of municipal, regional and national GDP (such as forestry, for one example at the national level). Arts & culture is not some kind of money pit (as some politicians will try to make you believe) but a net revenue generator. Even fully subsidized arts programs return over twice the investment they receive to their communities through salaries, expenses, re-investment, taxes, events, and revenue generation. Arts & Culture isn't just good for the soul - it's good for the economy too, with benefits that directly accrue to social and environmental good. Arts support isn't a "nice-to-have" - it is essential, and if a candidate doesn't understand this math, then I question their ability to represent their constituency well.”

Susan Moziar said on Facebook: “Arts, music, drama all play an integral part in a child's education just as much as reading writing and math. Besides, I have a daughter in law who is an accomplished artist. Had to share this piece called Ginger's Birthday Party. She also part owner of an art gallery in Oakville called http://in2artgallery.com/index.php/home. Yes, so definitely support the arts. #guelphvotes #Guelph”

Linda Busuttil said on Facebook: “Thank you Sonia for the conversation [on the phone!] about my personal value of the arts and culture, as a family we strongly believe that the arts provide another way that our children can explore, understand and express themselves and their place in the community and world. As a family we have been involved with the arts as consumers and supporters, the Suzuki String School, Orff Music, Youth Orchestra, Guelph Youth Dance Training Program/Company, as a community volunteer I was involved with the development of the Guelph Youth Music Centre, and as a parent volunteer with the school curriculum Art IMAGE program.

Speaking now as a current Trustee I see the value of the arts reflected in the UGDSB schools who have individually and collectively promoted skill appreciation, development and engagement. There are many examples that immediately come to mind: Shakespeare on Wheels which was brought to Mitchell Woods PS, Ottawa Cres PS worked with Michael Cywink with assistance from the Aboriginal Artists in Schools program, the Victory PS Art Crawl, the Willow Road PS student art/craft sale, Dufferin Youth Arts Festival, and many secondary Arts & Culture Specialist High Skills Major initiatives.

I feel that the UGDSB system as a whole encourages and supports the arts! Is there room to do more? Always!”


We thank those who took the time to respond, and we encourage everyone to continue the conversation, and candidates to continue to reply today and over the weekend. Any responses we receive on Facebook, Twitter and by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) will be summarized on Monday.


Just remember to get out and vote!

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?


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.

Tea-and-Tales-Sept-30 2014

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.


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!

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