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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