Inspiration 2018 – Creating Brighter Futures Through the Arts

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by Patti Broughton

The sixth annual Inspiration Guelph concert on Thursday, November 8 will bring young performers together with seasoned professionals for an entertaining musical evening. Through sponsors and guests, the event raises funds for the Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington’s Free to Play/Free to Grow program, which provides grants for kids to access arts programming, and all the benefits of nurturing creativity, despite their families’ financial circumstances.

All images courtesy of Inspiration Guelph

After a 10-year hiatus, the reunited The Philosopher Kings bring their high-energy performance style to the concert. The Juno-award winning band promises to entertain with old favourites and new material. Inspiration organizers, through local music business contacts, connected with the band, who were excited to headline this family-focused community event, including sharing the stage with all the featured acts in the finale! Other performers in this family-friendly evening include Cheer On Bears Cheerleading, The Jam School, and Guelph Family Martial Arts. Also featured this year is Romanian jazz piano prodigy Alex Padureanu. Each year’s performance finale ultimately brings all acts together – 150+ people! – in celebration on the River Run Stage.

The benefits of involvement in the arts for children and youth are well documented, and include:

  • enhanced learning in other domains, and overall academic achievement
  • greater resilience and self-esteem
  • a contribution to healthy and supportive communities for youth
  • help in the achievement of job skills and successful transition to adulthood
  • opportunities for youth to demonstrate leadership and effect positive change in their communities. (Creative City Network of Canada)

In a release Glenna Banda, Executive Director of the Children’s Foundation, said: “Inspiration fits well within our mandate of the Free to Play/Free to Grow program. The intent of the program is to provide financial assistance for kids seeking to learn or enhance their skills in music, dance, or visual art. At Inspiration we experience a wide variety of performances and they truly inspire many young people to explore their creative side. To date more than 600 children and youth have been able to attend arts programs thanks to funds raised at Inspiration.”

I sat down with Inspiration Guelph founder Brenda Gibson to find out what inspired her to start the event, which has raised over $120,000 for the Foundation since 2013 and put many young people on the path to pursuing or growing their interest in the arts. She noted that she comes from a long line of people who give back to the community, and her strong belief that the arts build critical confidence and self-esteem in children inspired her to found the event. In launching the event, and throughout its six-year history, Brenda has had support from renowned accordionist Joseph Macerollo, O.C. She chose the Children’s Foundation as the recipient of the funds because she knew they could help any child access their choice of arts programming.


Since the first event in 2013, Brenda has seen the event have an impact even beyond the children who have directly benefited. For example, collaborations between public, separate and private schools, and between artists and those schools, have been sparked by performing and attending the event. Inspiration has also had the opportunity, through a concert dedication each year, to recognize individuals in the community who have made a difference in the lives of youth through the arts. This year’s recipient is Doug McMillan, owner of founding sponsor The Letter M, who are well known as community supporters.

Brenda hopes that a 2018 sell-out could lead to even bigger events in the future, including a potential move to the Sleeman Centre, in order to grow the funds raised for Free to Play/Free to Grow. No matter the size of the venue or the fame of the headliner, however, local youth organizations will always be centre stage in the event. Brenda says, “It’s all about making a difference in the community.”


Tickets are $50 and are available through the River Run Centre at or 519-763-3000. Some half-price tickets for people with financial limitations, made possible through a generous donor, are available. Those interested in attending but in need of financial assistance can use the promotional code “Inspiration” when buying tickets on the River Run site or in person at the box office. Families in need may contact the Children’s Foundation at 519-826-9551 to ask about donated tickets.

Buying a ticket is only one way to support the event. You can also sponsor a child by donating tickets, making a donation to the silent auction, buying raffle tickets through the Children’s Foundation, volunteering, or spreading the word. Visit for all the details, including Nathaniel Gibson’s video of highlights of the 2017 event.

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