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2015 Artful Pledge Part Two

By Sonya Poweska

Missed Part One of the Artful Pledge? Don't worry, it's still available here.

Check out our update on what GAC staff did for January's theme (Join)


July: Attend

July is a big month for Guelph as Hillside Festival rolls into town. It’s known as one of the greatest festivals around. This award-winning and highly acclaimed festival boasts a great format and many amazing programs, which really celebrate the spirit of its founders and their passion for music, volunteerism, as well as green and local living.

But it’s not just Hillside - Art on the Street is another big event that happens annually on the second Saturday of July. This free, family-friendly event offers something for everyone. Co-hosted by the Downtown Guelph Business Association and Guelph Arts Council, Art on the Street brings over a hundred artists, and thousands of visitors to downtown Guelph for this juried exhibition and sale. Artists line both sides of Quebec Street with their wares while musicians entertain the crowds. This is a great entry point for those who are looking for a way to engage with artists. So mark your calendars now and join us for this great event!


August: Share

Do you have a favorite artist, musician, maker, event, or artisan? August is the month for sharing!

We here at Guelph Arts Council love discovering new artists. We also love hearing why your favorite artist has captured your attention. They can be seasoned or fresh, emerging or established, unknown or famous; we would love to hear them all.

For those of you who don’t know, we three staff members here at Guelph Arts Council have all worked in the creative industries in different capacities for many years. We each have our own artistic practices and love hearing about other artists’ processes, disciplines, mediums, and experimentation.

Each day in the month of August, we will share the work of a local artist on Facebook and twitter. Although we have many members whom we can brag about, we would like to hear about your favorite artists. We would also like artists to share images and links to their websites. Bonus points go to artists who share images, videos, or links that detail their creative process. What you share with us we’ll proudly share again with the rest of our network.

Helps us spread the word about Guelph artists, musicians, authors, makers, media artists, and innovators. Join us throughout the month of August as we share, share, share and open a dialogue about the art in our great city! Who knows, you might even discover something new!


September: Listen

It’s a great month for listening. The Downtown Guelph Businesses Association continues their run of great noon-hour concerts which are offered every Thursday afternoon at 12. These free and family friendly concerts feature local musicians and are a great way to infuse music into boring lunch hours.

September also welcomes two of the Fab Five Festivals, Guelph Jazz Festival and Eden Mills Writers Festival. Each festival offers different opportunities for attendees to enjoy the sounds, lectures, and words of the musicians, poets, and writers who participate.

If festivals and crowds aren’t your thing, why not treat your ears to the sounds of one of Guelph’s talented musicians or groups. Check out Guelph Chamber Choir, Guelph Symphony Orchestra, Tannis Slimmon, the barber shop musings of The Over Tones, or the great styling of The Funky Mamas. There is so much to choose from when it comes to Guelph’s music community. You can also checkout the selection of local musicians at The Bookshelf.


October: Engage

In October, we’d like to engage Guelph in, things you wanted to know about art/artists but were too afraid to ask. Send us your questions (we’ll protect your anonymity) and we’ll do our best to answer them all month long. Engaging in the arts takes a pretty wide definition, and we encourage you to catch up on a month you may have missed, such as Join, Learn, Listen, Share, Attend. And most importantly, we want you to engage with us by telling us what the artful pledge has meant for you.


November: Donate

November is typically the time when charities put their call out for community members, patrons, and supporters to donate. It’s also a time when we are ripe with Holiday debt and are busy using most of our disposable income on seasonal coffees, drinks, and festivities.

While all of us working in the sector acknowledge this financial crunch, it is also the time of the year that we often most need your support. Those working in the arts will acknowledge that November through to January is when we receive most of our charitable pledges. This allows us to plan into the New Year, design and plan for new activities, and often, to provide support to others who need it the most.

If you are unable to donate financial resources here are a list of other ways that you can show your support of your community, the arts, and the creative community that deliver creative, impactful, and bright programming throughout the year:

  1. Set up a monthly pledge. Most organizations will accept smaller monthly donations as an alternative to one larger annual contribution. Setting up a pledge of just $10 a month can make a great difference to an organization. If you are interested in contributing or setting up a monthly donation, you can do it at any time on our website or by talking to Katie.
  1. Send a postdated pledge-card or cheque. Do you want to donate, but you know you can’t commit until February? Why not send a postdated pledge card or cheque. Most charities are more than happy to hold onto a payment until a time that is more convenient to you.
  1. Volunteer your time. We all need a little extra help during the year and throughout the Holiday Season. Can you donate your time to a cause? A weekly, monthly, or one-time commitment are all appreciated by organizations like Guelph Arts Council. If you are interested, you can contact us at Guelph Arts Council to talk about volunteering in the arts community.


December: Buy

Nothing makes me happier than buying hand-made gifts for my family and friends. For me, it isn’t just about buying; it’s about supporting local artisans and businesses. It’s about connecting with my community and chatting with the makers who have produced the offering that I plan to share with my family and friends.

For many makers, the holiday season is often the most important part of their business year. If you know someone who is a maker, than you can probably confirm that they are pretty busy in the months leading up to the holidays. For us at the Arts Council, attending shows, sales, and exhibitions is a great way for us to catch up with artists, friends, and makers. It is a great social outing and with all the awesome shows, you can make a full day out of it.

In Guelph, we are lucky to have so many talented artists. During the month of December, why not show your support of the many artists and small businesses by purchasing something that is made, produced, fabricated, sung, played, or written by a fellow Guelphite. If we want to reap the benefits of all that our great creative city has to offer, then we need to support our local artists, organizations, and entrepreneurs that contribute to the vitality of the community in which we live.

To find out about all the great opportunities to buy local and support our local arts community, consider subscribing to our ArtsBlast e-newletter. This twice monthly subscription is jammed packed with great events, happenings, and stories about your community. A special Holiday Edition is always produced as well to highlight the many seasonal opportunities to connect with local artists and vendors.







Creative Spaces Update

As many of you know, Guelph has long explored the idea of a multi-purpose arts facility. This concept has taken many different forms. With each iteration, those spearheading the project have tried to address different needs that have been expressed by the many artists and arts organizations in our community. In each of these scenarios, one of the major challenges has been to coordinate logistics while strategically raising the funds needed to tackle such a massive undertaking. Key to this struggle is creating a safe, accessible, and affordable space for artists and community members.

Guelph Arts Council's Creative Spaces Project was developed to help address the community need for a multi-use arts space to exist. This has been a long standing goal of the arts council and even dates back to our inception as an organization in 1975. With several successes under our belt, Guelph Arts Council has worked to further this goal and over the course of the last 24 months, we have actively been researching sites and pursuing properties that would bring us one step closer to furthering this goal.

Guelph Arts Council has spent a substantial amount of time, effort, and resources looking at and researching potential permanent spaces. In the last six months, we have focused our attention on a particular location which, in the end, did not meet our need for safe, affordable, accessible space that would appeal to a broad range of users and community members. In talking to community stakeholders, it has become abundantly clear that the issue of finding a space that meets these criteria is a wide-spread and systemic issue that is larger than we could have imagined. Accessing affordable spaces in Guelph that meet accessibility and safety requirements is a problem that affects those working in the arts as well as those in other industries, sectors, and areas.

As a charitable non-profit, we owe it to the community to continue this search and look for ways to partner with other agencies, businesses, and sectors to make this dream a reality. This also includes strengthening our relationship with the municipality as they too are a key stakeholder in ensuring the health and well-being of the arts and culture community as well as supporting the development of the creative industries and the many small arts related businesses that propel Guelph's local economy forward.

In addition to our search for a physical space, the Creative Spaces Project has explored and discovered that to many in our community, 'creative spaces' means so much more than the development of a new building or physical location. For many, it means supporting and highlighting the resources and spaces that are already available in our community. For others, the development of 'creative spaces' means building more virtual/online spaces and re-invigorating under-utilized spaces that may be currently used by other sectors or for other purposes.

For Guelph Arts Council, we would like to see the idea of 'creative spaces' emerge with a far bigger and broader definition for our arts community. Rather than developing one new space, Guelph Arts Council will continue to pursue an open dialogue with our community to address the needs of our artists and organizations in bite-sized pieces. This includes highlighting and profiling existing spaces and being open to new opportunities that support our long term goal of addressing the need for a community space.

As an organization, we are committed to strengthening our network of partners to develop solid funding streams that will allow us to be nimble and responsive to the needs of our community, and to take advantage of the opportunities that arise and fit within our mandate. With your ongoing support, we look forward to continuing on this exciting journey of making our city one of Canada's great creative communities.


Guelph Arts Council Executive on behalf of the Guelph Arts Council Board of Directors

Artful Pledge Update - January: Join!

By GAC Staff

The staff here at Guelph Arts Council are making a personal commitment to stand behind the arts and support the production of creativity, artistic activity, and the cultural sector here in Guelph. We’ve given each month in 2015 an artful theme to focus our efforts and provide inspiration, and we are very excited to present our first monthly update!

In case you missed the original article, you can read it here: Twelve Month Artful Pledge part 1 and be sure to read the newly released Part 2, covering the months of July through December.

Here's what we did with the theme of Join...


Katie, Office Manager/ Membership Coordinator:

It’s been a seven year dry spell since I played flute and tenor sax with the high school and military (22 Wing) concert and jazz bands in my home town of North Bay, Ontario. When I went to university in Ottawa, I missed being a part of that big sound, but I didn’t believe I could fit it into my schedule. I was also a little shy about joining a new band.

When it came time to take the 12 Month Artful Pledge, I knew the time had come. No more excuses - dust off that flute and find a band to join! In my search for the right group, I came across Guelph Concert Band. Their website said all are welcome (though you must have your own instrument) and to let them know if you’d be joining for rehearsal. They didn’t require an audition, but rather, suggested I come try it out. If I liked it, I could pay a prorated membership fee for joining part-way through the season.  Could they really be so friendly?

The short answer is: yes. These are wonderful, welcoming people who come together to rehearse every Sunday evening, often heading to the Wooly afterwards, and perform concerts to audiences year-round. Conductor Chris Cigolea offers uniquely expressive visual cues and analogies to help each section express their part. This has been especially helpful to someone like me, who is getting back in the game of reading and performing this challenging - but not unattainable - music.

It seems I have joined at a particularly exciting time for the band! At our upcoming concert, From Havana to Guelph we will welcome two international guest stars to perform with us. Recently inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, Cuban trumpeter-singer Bobby Carcasses will perform on flugelhorn and vocals, and from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Moscow, Russian ballerina Ekaterina Tikanova joins us in solo dance. We’ll also be accompanied on select pieces by guest stars from closer to home: local songstress Mary DuQuesnay, and the award-winning St. John’s Kilmarock Jazz Band.

Our preparation for this concert is anything but dull, repetitive rehearsals. In fact, on February 14, we will be having a dress rehearsal with our guest performers, followed by a fun percussion workshop, and then a spectacular Valentine’s fundraiser, Latin Love. Latin Love features a performance by Toronto’s Cassava Latin Band, special guest Bobby Carcasses, DJ Gury Gury. There have even been whispers of Latin dance instruction that will also be offered that day. These two events are not to be missed and I hope you will join us for one or both evenings.

I couldn’t be happier with my decision to finally join what I’ve been putting off for so long. I encourage anyone who is curious about the arts or just wants to be part of that community support system to join a group or organization. It’s never too late! You don’t have to be an artist or performer yourself, but supporting local arts groups with membership and/or attendance goes a long way towards making our community a better place to live in the long term, while making your life more enjoyable in the short. Thanks for reading.


Melissa, Creative Spaces Coordinator:

This month the GAC staff took on our first monthly challenge to join something that would contribute to making our city more artful.

To meet this challenge, I decided go about it a bit differently and join something that would help me to align my creative intentions for a healthful and artful year ahead and to bring more strength into my practice.

Goldsmithing can be a challenge to the body and the mind - it’s physical and creative and requires a steady hand and a quiet mind. You need to be in good health to do this kind work and so to meet this January challenge, I chose to join a week-long early morning yoga intensive that would give me new strength and still my mind. I know that when I give myself the freedom to play “absentmindedly” in the studio that I am far more creative, and so it was no surprise when I learned that new science is discovering just that!

Brigid Schulte explains in her book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time that, “Neuroscience is finding that when we [allow our body and brains dedicated time to go quiet in idle leisure]… our brains are most active. The Default Mode Network lights up, which, like airport hubs, connects parts of our brain that don't typically communicate. So a stray thought, a random memory, an image can combine in novel ways to produce novel ideas.”

When I joined this class, I had hoped to create the stillness in my mind to be able to step into a new year of creative pursuits. Now, I’m not a morning person, so willing myself to get up before 6:00 a.m. five days a week was a small miracle. But I did it, and I am happy to report that I had an amazingly inspired week. While I’m enjoying my cozy sleep-ins this week, I will continue making dedicated time to care for my body and my brain, and I look forward to reaping the benefits during next month’s Artful Pledge to go forth and CREATE!

May your year be full to the brim with good fun and good creative health.



Sonya, Executive Director:

I had my “Join” pledge all worked out when I had first written the article. After many years of admiration, I joined the amazing and wonderful Ed Video. For those of you who don’t know, my own artistic practice is in the media arts. Before coming to Guelph, I had long been aware of the amazing artists, exhibitions, and workshops featured by the widely renowned centre and I am now proud to report that I am a member of the one and only Ed Video!

For me, joining Ed Video is a reminder that I can take the time out of my day to create more art. It has been a very long time since I last created a film. I hope that this is the first step in me becoming more mindful of my own artistic practices and I look forward to sharing those adventures with you in the coming months.


Let us know what you've joined and we'll share on Facebook and Twitter, and in our next update. Next month's theme is Create. We can't wait to see what you come up with, Guelph!

Our New Year’s Resolution: The Twelve Month Artful Pledge

by Sonya Poweska


Our New Year’s Resolution: The Twelve Month Artful Pledge

The New Year is always the time that people make commitments to follow new paths to better themselves and the communities in which they live, work, and play. In 2015, the staff here at Guelph Arts Council aremaking a commitment to stand behind the arts and support the production of creativity, artistic activity, and the cultural sector here in Guelph.

Each and every month, we will invite you to join us as we make a pledge to support our community by investing our time and resources into the sector that we know and love. We have carefully selected an area to focus on each month and we will report on our achievements in our monthly ArtsBlast newsletter. We invite you to join us as we work together to help make Guelph one of Canada’s great creative communities.



January: Join

There are so many great organizations in Guelph that are supported by a membership. Membership is an easy, and often low cost, way to get involved in an organization. Membership in Guelph Arts Council can start at just $5 per year and is available for purchase on our website, in person, via email, phone or by mail. Membership is strength in numbers—as a member you are showing your support of the arts and demonstrating that you support us as we work together to make our city artful.

Guelph Arts Council is a great place to start but you can also become a member of ED VideoGuelph Creative Art AssociationMacdonald Stewart Art Centre, 10 Carden, Architectural Conservancy of Guelph and Wellington, and Guelph Historical Society, to name a few.

 UPDATE > See what staff have made of our January "Join"

February: Create

It’s a cold and short month. Why not fill your time by creating something? It can be functional (like mittens) or beautiful (like a painting). It can involve words, clay, beads, paint, instruments, voice or movement— just create something!

It might not be the miracle cure for the cold and flu, but the benefits of creation in any artistic media have proven and well documented benefits to health and well-being. In 2010, the American Journal of Public Health published a review titled, The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health . This peer reviewed article examined the findings of 100+ studies to reveal that creating art had positive health impacts on those who participated in the studies.

Besides the potential health benefits, creating can also open up new social connections and create new opportunities to engage with others. Our stories and histories are told and remembered through art and the creation of art engages its creators in an intimate form of self expression that can initiate learning, promote healing, find purpose, make a friend, and maybe, just maybe, you might have a little fun as well.


March: Learn

Life-long learning is one of the best ways to inspire the next generation of young minds. It is also one of the best ways to stay young. Learning, like creating, opens up new pathways in our brains that help us build, grow, and preserve our creativity, knowledge, and memory. Guelphites are lucky because our city has so much to offer when it comes to learning new artistic practices.

Here are just a few of the many great organizations that offer great classes and opportunities to learn:

Guelph School of Art

Necessary Arts Company

Royal Ukulele Ensemble

Suzuki String School of Guelph

Orff Suzuki Music Moves

DanceTheatre David Earle

Guelph Youth Singers

ED Video

Royal City School of Ballet and Jazz Theatre


April: Volunteer

In their article, Volunteers and Donors in Arts and Culture Organizations in Canada in 2010 , Hill Strategies reports that in 2010, 764,000 volunteers contributed approximately 97 million hours of their time to support the work for arts and culture organizations. This amazing contribution of time not only allows organizations like Guelph Arts Council do our work, it also helps create a bridge between our organization and the community.

April is always a time that Guelph Arts Council needs volunteers. Our annual Doors Open Guelph program, which showcases and celebrates culturally, artistic, and historically relevant buildings in Guelph, requires the support of 100+ volunteers to help serve as greeters, guides, writers, and event assistants. We are lucky to have the returning support of so many, but are still in need of more support. If you are interested, drop us a line!


May: Explore

Now that the weather is getting nicer, let’s commit to exploring some of the great assets that this city has to offer. Each and every Sunday from April-July and September-Mid November, Guelph Arts Council offers historical walking tours that showcase some of the city’s best buildings, stories, and creative spaces. These tours are $5 and are lead by our amazing volunteer guides. Not available on Sundays? The accompanying historical walking tour guide books are available for purchase at the Arts Council for only $5. If you’d like to be extra adventurous, they are also available at Guelph Public Libraries, and for purchase at The Bookshelf and Guelph Civic Museum. While there, you can explore some of the great history that is housed in the building as well as the Wall of Art program that features a juried and curated selection of work made by Guelph artists.

Other great places and events to explore include Wellington County Museum and Archives, Silence Guelph, Boarding House Arts, Guelph Potters Market, and the outdoor Donald Forster Sculpture Garden atMacdonald Stewart Art Centre. Exploration can also take place using theGuelph Arts Council Artist Directory or the Guelph Culture Map. Both of these sites host some pretty amazing artists and stories that are worthy of discovery. And who knows, you might just find exactly what you were looking for!

June: Watch

June is a month that is full of great things to watch. The annual Multicultural Festival,Guelph Dance Festival, Guelph Little Theatre, Guelph MusicFest, and River Run Centre all offer so much to see. This kind of engagement in your local arts scene provides both entertainment and excitement while also contributing to the local investment and the economy in our city. In fact in 2008, the Statistics Canada Survey of Household Spending in Canada revealed that Canadians spent more than twice as much on live performing arts ($1.4 billion) than on sports events ($0.65 billion). What this study doesn’t include is the spending that is associated with performing arts attendance both before and after a show. This consumer spending puts dollars into our local economies creating jobs and attractions all while building community pride.

Beyond the local investment piece, those who routinely attend, participate, and watch local events, performances, and artists report better satisfaction and health in their daily life. A report from Hill Strategies, The Arts and Individual Well-Being in Canada: Connections between Cultural Activities and Health, Volunteering, Satisfaction with Life, and Other Social Indicators in 2010, statistical insights revealed , details these findings using six cultural activities and three social indicators for detailed statistical modeling. The report nicely summarizes the findings and the results are listed below.

In plain English:

· Art gallery visits are associated with better health and higher volunteer rates.
· Theatre attendance is associated with better health, volunteering, and strong satisfaction with life.
· Classical music attendance is associated with higher volunteer rates and strong satisfaction with life.
· Pop music attendance is associated with better health, volunteering, and strong satisfaction with life.
· Attendance at cultural festivals is associated with better health, volunteering, and strong satisfaction with life.
· Reading books is associated with better health, volunteering, and strong satisfaction with life.

With this in mind, watching a performance, an artist at work, or participating in a cultural event will surely do more for your health, well-being, and satisfaction with life, it will also contribute to the health and vitality of the local community and the cultural sector as a whole. So go on, treat yourself!

July through December will be detailed in Part Two of the "Twelve Month Artful Pledge" which will be featured in January’s ArtsBlast (to be published Jan 27, 2015). If you have taken the artful pledge, tell us about your experience on Twitter,Facebook or contact us directly. 

Thanks for reading!

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