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!

Wall of Art Gets Sweet!

by Katie Wilde


Need a little (Sweet!)ness in your life? The 5th quarterly installment of Wall of Art showcases some of the amazing talent of Guelph Arts Council members.

Wall of Art is a new exhibition program, developed in 2014 as a partnership between Guelph Arts Council, Guelph Civic Museum, and the City of Guelph’s cultural department in order to provide a regular (quarterly) opportunity to showcase some of the amazing talent represented in Guelph Arts Council's wide membership. Artists apply with an image and information about their work, are selected by a jury, and are paid a small artist fee to exhibit the selected work at a public museum (Guelph Civic Museum).

For the upcoming exhibition, we invited artists to explore all things Sweet! From confectionary to colloquialism, we'll look at the tender, the sugary, and the radically awesome. We are excited to introduce you to the artists and offer a sneak preview of the show.


This funky retro collage "Pop Culture" is by Desiree O, and will be the first piece she shows Guelph. Desiree O is a truly multidisciplinary artist, who works as a writer, musician, visual artist and actor. founder as well as writer/editor and community manager of Canada Arts Connect.


“Can You Tell this Story?” is a mixed media acrylic painting by Frances Hahn. Frances is a partner at Necessary Arts Company, an open studio for creatives in downtown Guelph, and is a sophisticated and subtle painter. She also does amazing work as a designer and textile artist.




“Tangled and Sweet” is a photograph by fibre-artist/photographer Heather Nagel. Her ‘ongoing adventure’ involves taking inspiration from nature and connecting to her subject through photography and artwork made from natural fibres -- often using her photography as a source.



What could be sweeter than the bond between brothers? “Brothers” and “Ice Cream” are two stunning works by Aberfoyle portrait artist Cindy Dochstader.  Cindy’s keen portraits convey the powerful bonds and poignant moments found in family life.


Digital images of Margot Jenner’s paper doll portraits don't quite do them justice. These unique pieces are drawn by hand on bristol paper, and coloured with copic markers. The dolls themselves are cutouts, placed on a separately drawn background. “Agatha at Work” is a portrait of Agatha from the Wes Anderson film “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, who makes sweets for a shop called Mendl's.


“Sweet Talking” is yet another beautifully composed image from photographer, songwriter, and self-described “grandfogger” Randy Sutherland. You can see more of his work on his blog, where he posts new and striking photographs almost daily.


This awesome image has an unusual twist. “Artichoke” is not simply a gorgeous photograph, but is printed on latex fabric stretched over a wood frame. Artist Katie Hebert is taking her ongoing series “The Beauty of Nourishment” to a new level with her experimentation with how the photographs are printed. We are very excited to see the result of the new latex fabric method of presentation.


We are very proud to present the work of our talented members at the fifth quarterly Wall of Art: “Sweet!”. The exhibition opens January 12, and will run until April 5. Reception to be held the evening of March's Fourth Friday, the 27th. Admission will be free that night (5:00 - 9:00 p.m.), and the artists (who are lovely, friendly people) will be present. Please come and enjoy refreshments, see the art, and meet the artists! If you can't make the reception, don't worry - the exhibition can be viewed during regular museum hours January 12 through April 5.

Why Become a Member?

by Katie Wilde

You may or may not know that we are a member-based organization. It is our members who make us who we are. If you a believer in, or even curious about the power of the arts, one way you can connect to the arts in your community is by becoming a member. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is the membership coordination and the support that I offer members. I'm always pleased to answer a few questions about what it means to be a member of Guelph Arts Council. Here is what I've learned from our members and community members along the way.

(Short on time and want to skip to a section? Click on one:)

Who are our members?

What's in it for me?

What do I have to do?

What can I do?


Who are our members?

Our members are not just artists and those that are aren't just your quintessential painter-type either. They're authors, crafters, potters, builders, glassworkers, filmmakers, singers, musicians, storytellers, puppeteers, photographers, textile and fibre artists, actors, performers, printmakers, poets, art educators, curators, appraisers, and creative people of all kinds! They also are groups, charities, and businesses made up of passionate individuals who work to deliver the arts to our community in various ways.

Don't worry, we also have many fabulous painters too!


While painting en plein air is a wonderful art form, for the health of your artist body, we can't recommend the ergonomics of this sitting position. 

Our members are long time theatre-goers, followers of local art news, and attendees of exhibitions, events, and sales. They are also people who believe that the arts community is at the heart of who we are and what defines our city. In addition, our members are great people who support the arts council and our efforts simply through their annual membership to our organization.


What's in it for me?

Stay informed on local opportunities - posted online and in the office. You can also call, visit or email if you're looking for something specific. We'll direct you to the right opportunity whenever we can.

Promotional avenues - The sleek profiles in our member directory show a snapshot of your artistic efforts and can either direct people to your website or offer an interim online presence. Post your events on the calendar any time, and in our e-news once a month. Boost the visibility of your event on our calendar and advertise yourself in the sidebar with our new affordable artist advertising program (to be launched in 2015). Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and send us a message asking us to follow you. Tag us in your art posts and we will share them. People from the community regularly call us looking for artists and groups. Make sure we know about you and what you do so we can recommend you to them!

Find artists and arts groups - Get inspired, make friends, join a group, buy art, attend!

Artist Members are eligible to apply for our members' juried exhibition, Wall of Art.

Discounts - Members are eligible to receive discounts on events like to Art on the Street, workshops, and conferences. We also offer discounted membership advertising rates on our website. Organizational Members with a membership of their own can ask for a discount code to pass on to their members, who will receive 10% off an Artist Membership.

Consultations with staff - Not sure what the next step in your artistic career should be? There are so many aspects to being an artist. From your ongoing education to pursuing grants or turning your art into a business, we can help you break down the vastness of opportunities and obstacles into manageable goals and areas of focus for what YOU want to get out of your art.

Help transitioning to an online presence - Not so comfortable with computers? Find the thought of having to make your own website a bit overwhelming? While our profile pages aren’t meant to replace a website, they can be an excellent start to having an online presence. Low maintenance, you have 24/7 access to update and change it, but will also receive personalized assistance during office hours if you have any difficulties. We also offer an initial set-up/training session for those whose comfort with technology is still in the growing stages.

Discover or rediscover your creative city - Whether you’re new to town or a born and raised Guelphite, we bet there are yet unknown artistic treasures hidden in Guelph for you. Let us help you discover them!

Vote at our Annual General Meeting - When we ask you to add your voice to ours, we mean it! We are a membership-based organization and we are proud to represent you.


What do I have to do?

Support us with a membership fee of $5 (General), $30 (Artist), or $50 (Organization), once per year. Nothing else. There are no mandatory meetings, events, or volunteer hours.


What CAN I do?

We love showing you off to others! Invest in us, so we can invest in you. Make the most of your membership by taking advantage of what's in it for you. We encourage you to attend our in-person social events, ask us how we can help you promote your artistic exploits, set aside a time to chat with us about your activities or goals, and let us direct you to some opportunities. You can even volunteer with us or donate. How involved you become is up to you.


We're proud to represent you and we can't wait to get to know you!

Become a member now by clicking here.

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