It’s Your Turn to Make Dreams Come True

By Sarah Goldrup

It’s time for you, the community, to make some dreams come true!

The Oak Tree Project is a unique opportunity to strengthen the arts and culture of our community. Initiated by the Mactaggart Team, the Oak Tree Project recognizes the amazing impact that the arts can have on a community and how important it is to support the local charities that make that happen.

This is why they’ve decided to fund the arts this year:

“The arts also have the power to transform lives, provide a proven positive impact on development, help to refine motor skills and improve coordination, unlock talent, raise aspirations and establish an appreciation for different cultures.

This year, The Mactaggart Team will focus on strengthening local charities with the best ideas to build community through the arts. We’re looking for local charities that have the best ideas to enhance their capacity for supporting creative programming through the arts. We will donate $5,000 to an arts charity nominated by members of our community. A second donation of $1,000 will also be made.”

These not-for-profit initiatives invigorate their communities by creating opportunities and programming. They foster economic growth, support local artists, and bring a love for arts and culture to the youth and other members of our community. It’s a sure bet that all of us belong to or have been impacting by the amazing charities that sustain our community here in Guelph.

You can support your favourite local charities by voting for them through the Oak Tree Project. Many arts initiatives depend on external funding to continue their work or grow into exciting new projects. Through your nomination and by sharing your stories you will give your favourite charities a chance to receive the support to continue their work.

There are many fantastic projects and charities to be nominated, many of which are brought to you by members of Guelph Arts Council.

Please submit your nomination! Even if the charity isn’t awarded the full $5000, your stories are an invaluable boost to their efforts as they apply for other funding.

Nominations are open until July 15, 2015.

We at Guelph Arts Council have partnered with The Children’s Art Factory, an Art studio for children with a focus on the process of Art through play. We believe that in play, creativity blossoms. In order for children of all ages and incomes to benefit, CAF and Guelph Arts Council will build a series of portable art-based activities that could be borrowed or rented through an outreach program. This program would not only provide cutting-edge art education but revenue for both organizations. Examples of activities are plexi-glass easels; magnet table for building; a puppet theatre and stage with working instruments. Please vote for us!

But don’t stop there. Here are some of the other amazing local charities and what they’re working on. Below are our members’ initiatives, and the rest can (and should!) be viewed at

Ed Video has had a meaningful relationship with the City of Guelph for almost 40 years. Media art matters here. Over the years our community has joined together to make works on art, political, environmental and social issues. To celebrate, we propose to use the Oaktree grant to do three short documentaries presenting creative stories from underserved communities in partnership with three other non-profits. This will launch a program and Web site we hope to continue through our 40th anniversary year. For more info go here:

Eden Mills Writers’ Festival will use the funds to revitalize our new facility, a lovely historical (former) church. Renovating this space will allow the Festival, now in its 27th year, to expand programming year-round, increasing the opportunities for established and emerging artists to present their work, publishers to showcase their authors, and aspiring writers and artists of all ages to participate in workshops and showcases. Funding will increase our capacity to support the arts by encouraging a culture of reading, writing and creating, as well as nurturing the next generation of writers and artists.

Focus on Nature provides full-day photography workshops in elementary schools, inspiring kids to express themselves creatively while exploring the natural world around them. We deliver our core programming in classrooms in order to reach the broadest audience, including kids who otherwise wouldn’t have access to specialized arts programming. Teachers love the program and many invite us back year after year. Unfortunately some schools can’t afford the subsidized fee that covers a portion of program costs. This grant will rectify that, allowing us to increase our reach into priority schools.

Guelph Jazz Festivalbelieves music-making is a tremendous formative experience for young people. Youths participating in Guelph Jazz Links (a Guelph Jazz Festival / Guelph Youth Jazz Ensemble partnership) hone their music skills, create new works, and expand their thinking about music-making and themselves, all under the guidance of local musician Brent Rowan and internationally acclaimed jazz masters. The culminating experience is a series of featured performances during the Guelph Jazz Festival. Oak Tree funding will let Guelph Jazz Links operate year-round and add artists-in-residence to further mentor Guelph’s youth.

Guelph Little Theatre Our current home is a converted industrial building that we are working hard to turn into a first class theatre. With patron support, 250 new seats with aisle lighting were installed in 2013, last year we completely rebuilt and sealed the stage deck and we are looking ahead to replace signage in 2017. As it is with older buildings, the next job is around the corner. We share our stage with local arts organizations each year! 2015 sees GLT as the main stage for the Guelph Jazz Festival. Capital improvements to the theatre will help the community by increasing safety and accessibility.

Guelph Public Library provides lifelong learning opportunities and the freedom to read, learn, and discover offering a wealth of accessible resources, services, technologies, and programs to meet community needs. For many, access is crucial-attested by steadily rising usage and the 2800 people who enter our doors daily for tools to enrich, improve, and transform their lives. $5000 will expand our arts and culture programs for all, including youth, seniors, immigrants, and those with special needs- specifically creating a ‘living artist’ series where artists can create, inspire, and promote literacy through art.

Murals of Hope: A Mural Celebrating the Community of Guelph!

HATCH is a project that will address the need for more community arts space in Guelph. We at Guelph Arts Council (GAC) will collaborate with partners, artists and property owners to animate Guelph’s urban streetscape in unexpected ways. GAC will work with artists to ignite our downtown through the temporary installation of storefront art exhibitions, studios, and happenings. HATCH has attracted funding from The Elevator Project and the Guelph Community Foundation’s Musagetes Grant Program. Support from the Oak Tree Project would permit the extension of the project.

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