Text Size

Eden Mills Writers’ Festival Announces 2018 Lineup

by Melissa McGrath, Eden Mills Writers Festival


On Sunday September 9th, 2018, book-lovers of all ages will descend upon the village of Eden Mills to lounge in sloped backyards at the edge of the Eramosa River, and enjoy the luxury of being read to by their favourite authors. For 30 years, the residents of Eden Mills have hosted a who’s who of Canadian literature in a setting that Guelph/Eramosa Township Mayor Chris White says, “makes folks feel like they have been dropped into a 19th century English novel.”

fb mailchimp

The EMWF has been beloved in the Guelph/Eramosa communities for 3 decades, drawing in locals and visitors alike. A one-of-a-kind event, the EMWF is a showcase for CanLit legends and rising literary stars, featuring reading sets dedicated to young readers, young adult readers, French audiences, as well as fans of poetry, creative non-fiction and more.

Read more ...

Tea n Tales - 2018 guest artist lineup

by the Guelph Guild of Storytellers


The Guelph Guild of Storytellers, along with the Guelph Enabling Gardens, is announcing the 2018 line-up for the 11th Annual Tea 'n' Tales Storytelling Festival at the Guelph Enabling Gardens. The programme includes five tellers who will be making their debut performances at the festival.

Toronto’s Lynn Torrie combines a lifelong love of stories with almost 30 years of work as an occupational therapist. She enjoys traditional tales that not only entertain, but also teach us how to live well with others and with our environment.

Kait Taylor of Kitchener combines the energy of Red Fraggle, the silly of Gilda Radner, and a peppering of thoughtfulness, and empathy from Mary Poppins... and you end up with Kait’s tales.

Judy Caulfield has been telling stories for over three decades, from school settings, to libraries, to festivals, and to informal song. Paul Caulfield is a singer, guitarist, and mandolin player whose repertoire includes ’60s folk songs, alt-country ballads and playful rockers. He is a member of Credit River Time, a Brampton-based quartet that specializes in old-tyme music and as a solo artist he’s noted for his humorous tellings of the stories behind the songs.

Mary Baldasaro of Kitchener is an educator and storyteller. Her repertoire includes traditional, historical, literary, and original works. She has performed at Latitudes, the Toronto Storytelling Festival, Sharon Temple, and Feminine Harbor.

These artists will be joined by returning performers from both Guelph and elsewhere in the Metro and South-Western Ontario region.

The schedule for the hour-long tellings at the Enabling Gardens in Guelph’s Riverside Park is:

June 29: The wonderful voice of Tannis Slimmon will open this year’s Tea ‘n’ Tales festival. Tannis is a critically acclaimed Canadian musician who has been singing, songwriting, recording, and touring locally, nationally and internationally for over 30 years. Also telling will be local raconteur, Brian Holstein, with his tales and poetry from around the globe.

July 6: Acclaimed local troubadour James Gordon will be returning with his songs of local folks and history, as well as his sometimes stranger-than-fiction tales about being on the road, travelling the continent to entertain. He will be joined by Michael Doherty with his tales of Ireland, old Montreal and little-known history of this country.

July 13: A debut performance by Toronto’s Lynn Torrie, along with local teller, puppeteer, playwright and elocutionist Jay Wilson (“Pandora’s Sox”) who will return with his tales and his poetry.

July 20: Elora storyteller and social activist Donna McCaw for her eleventh season. Donna always charms her audience with her tales, often stemming from her prairie upbringing. Joining her will be one of the Guild’s almost-original members, Ann Estill, who will again tell her thoughtful tales.

June 27: Returning yet again by popular demand will be Mr. Guelph Guitar, Doug Larson, with his stories ranging from his discovery of Ontario’s old cedar tree, to the construction of the Guelph Guitar, to tales of his grandson. Joining him will be Guelph teller, Jenny Higgins, making a return with her energetic tales.

August 3: Jan Sherman will be returning yet again, to the delight of all. Jan is an Anishinaabe Métis woman, mother, storyteller, drummer, and singer. She'll share stories of her life, and from First Nations traditions. She will be joined by guild tellers.

August 10: Kait Taylor, along with Sarah Abusarar, of Toronto. Sarah, a native of Pakistan, grew up in Croatia, from whence many of her tales were woven. She returns after a successful debut performance last year in Guelph.

August 17: Judy and Paul Caulfield will be joined by local Maryann Bailey and her warm tales.

August 24: Returning for their third summer will be the wonderful duo of Brenda Lewis and Gayle Ackroyd with their musical talents to again please the audience. Also appearing will be Mary Baldarsaro.

August 31: Our final performance for the season will again feature Adwoa Badoe, author, storyteller, and African Dance instructor. This Guelph resident has entertained audiences young and old with her appearances at Toronto and Montreal Storytelling Festivals, Hillside and Eden Mills. Joining her will be another Guelph icon, Sya VanGeest who has told stories to all with an unparalleled passion that draws in her audience.

Each hour-long performance begins promptly at 10:30. It is strongly suggested that audience members bring their own lawn chair, and there will be a free coffee, iced tea or lemonade for the first 30 people who bring their own mug. We will not be supplying any single-use cups (paper or foam) and we encourage people to bring their own mugs.
All performances are free, but donations will be graciously accepted.

For more information contact the organizer, Brian Holstein, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How to Start a Creative Business

by Jane Litchfield

Congratulations! Your art or craft is at a place where you are ready to make it your livelihood. Now what? Starting a creative business is exciting and a little scary – and you should approach it much the way you would any kind of business. Here are 10 key steps.

1. Research your market

“A lot of businesses don’t do enough research,” says Mona Afshari of WorkInCulture. “They’re too tied to their product or service and they just produce. Then they find out there is no need for their product or not enough people to buy it.

Blue Iris mugs
Iris Dorton makes functional pottery that balances beauty with utility. Image courtesy of the artist.

“You need to know who your target audience is, and how to talk to them. Your research should tell you what they do, where they are, what platforms they are on. That’s where you go,” says Afshari, who presents workshops on starting a creative business. Wondering where to start? Afshari suggests going to your local business centre or economic development centre.

You’ll also want to suss out the competition. Do a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) on similar businesses in your market. What are their price points? Where/how do they sell?

What if your research turns up a lot of competition? “There will always be someone making something similar,” Afshari says, “It’s how you talk about it that matters.”

Which brings us to our next point….

2. Know your “why”

Maybe it’s the look on a customer’s face when they find that perfect piece, maybe it’s because you have stories inside you that demand to be told, or maybe -- like Iris Dorton of Blue Iris Studios -- you took a pottery class that changed your life. Whatever your reason, you need to know why you are doing this. Your “why” is not only compelling for customers, but also for you on those days when you need motivation to get out of bed in the morning (or stay up late at night).

Afshari says that when she sees people fail it is often because they are not passionate about what they do, and they simply lose steam.

3. Know yourself

Dorton stresses that before deciding to launch, it is important to look inside. “Loving making doesn’t mean you’re going to be love making a living that way. How do you want your life to look? Know your strengths and weaknesses and know what you’ll need help with. Are you self-motivated? Are you a procrastinator? For me, the hardest part about being a potter is working alone all day.”

chocolate stoneware bottle with fine silver droplets    chocolate stoneware bottle with fine silver droplets detail

In other words, do an honest SWOT analysis of yourself, and adjust your plans accordingly.

Which brings us to…

4. Create a business plan

Sorry, being creative doesn’t mean you can get away without a plan. Set some specific goals. You’ll thank yourself later.

Your business plan will answer simple questions such as how much product you can make, how much you can realistically sell, what your overhead costs are, and how you will fund your inventory. “It will probably change in a year or two, but it’s great to have goals to work toward,” says Afshari, who is Marketing and Communications Manager at WorkInCulture.

Afshari recommends using online business tools to write a business plan, such as those from Futurpreneur Canada or BDC.

5. Possibly pivot

Now that you’ve committed to specifics, be prepared to change. If your plan was to specialize in square-metre works, but they’re gathering dust while your square-foot studies fly off the shelves, you might want to change gears. Dorton switched to making porcelain jewelry when she had an injury, and she continues to sell it today.

blue iris jewelry

6. Don’t neglect bookkeeping

The important thing is to set up systems and develop habits from the start and then stick to them, Afshari says.

Dorton agrees: “You can’t make [your products] 100% of the time. If you drop the ball on paperwork, you’ll regret it. If you know you can’t do it or won’t do it, you better find somebody who will.”

Afshari says one of the first things you should do is to open a separate bank account. “It helps you stay organized, especially if you’re not good at bookkeeping. You can see what you’re spending, and it helps you budget and keep track of expenses and income.”

Even something as simple as collecting receipts and bills in envelopes will give you a leg up come tax time. “I keep a folder with each line number [of the tax forms] on it,” says Dorton.

Again, there are many online platforms for bookkeeping, and phone apps to remind you of deadlines. Ask others in similar businesses what they use. If you’re not already doing your own taxes, however, that may be a sign that you will need help with bookkeeping, Afshari says.

It’s not necessary to register for HST until you have collected $30,000 in revenue in the past 12 months, or in a given quarter. If you cross that threshold, you must apply within 30 days.

7. Start lean

No corporate jet, yet. But seriously, don’t spend money renting a storefront until you’ve tried selling at a market, online, or in another existing shop first. Can you keep up with the demand? Is there demand? Do consider renting or borrowing expensive equipment for your first shows.

8. Market yourself

“I love making pots. I hate photographing pots, telling people how beautiful they are, and shouting ‘look at me’ on social media,” admits Dorton.

Marketing may not be your favourite thing either, but people need to know you’re out there and where and why to buy your work. Ideally, create a brand and a logo. They add to your credibility and are recognizable across various platforms.

Blue Iris vase

Although you may be tempted to rely on social media, you do need a website. (It doesn’t have to be perfect.) “Your website is your landing area; people can go from there to social media,” says Afshari. There are many simple drag and drop platforms for building a site that are created for non-developers. Also you can host an online store through your site, using services like Shopify, Square, Wix, and others.

Where you sell depends on your target market. Dorton does some shows, some wholesale, and sells some things only in her shop (179 Woolwich St., Guelph, as of mid-June). She says online sales are challenging for a potter. “I would need a whole packing room with giant rolls of bubble paper. You have to decide who you are and what you do. Online doesn’t work for me.”

Guelph Arts Council helps promote members and lists calls to artists and upcoming exhibitions and sales. Need some help with applying to shows? Drop in or give us a call. And check out our 5 easy steps on How to Write Your Artist’s Bio.

WorkInCulture also offers resources such as free webinars on specific business topics including branding and e-commerce.

9. Talk to people

Talk to other working artists, others who have started small businesses, people who might buy from you, and friends and family. All these people can help you hone in on what your business should look like and where to get help. “Don’t work in a bubble,” Afshari says. This applies once you are up and running, too. Ask clients and strangers at exhibits what they love about your work. “It’s encouraging and energizing to hear from others.”

10. Believe in yourself

Of course you won’t have everything figured out when you launch your business, and if you wait for the perfect time, it won’t happen. So go for it.

Dorton says she has no regrets around giving up her successful marketing writing career to become a potter. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done to make a living, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Long Rounded Rectangle Tray


Cast a Vote for the Arts in June’s Provincial Election

by Patti Broughton and Katie Wilde

Over the last couple of weeks, an intrepid group of volunteers from Guelph’s arts community have been talking about the value of the arts with local candidates for provincial election. Concluding today with Green Party candidate (and provincial leader) Mike Schreiner, the volunteers have met with Agnieska Mlynarz (NDP), Ray Ferraro (PC), and Sly Castaldi (Liberal). The guiding document for the meetings, which were also an opportunity to chat with candidates about their and their party’s views on the arts, was Ontarians for the Arts’ discussion paper Connections and Resilience Through the Arts.

Ontarians for the Arts is a non-partisan movement that promotes the benefits of the arts in every community across the province. Its steering committee has recruited and trained volunteers across the province to meet with local candidates to encourage dialogue around it discussion paper and Call to Action. Local volunteers have also shared information with candidates about what the arts mean to their communities.

The discussion paper themes focus on investment in the arts, arts development and education. They also emphasize Ontario’s place in the world, including cultural infrastructure and promoting Ontarians’ cultural exports abroad. The paper outlines how the arts benefit Ontarians through access and engagement, economic resilience, and other cultural benefits. The authors put forth 10 recommendations and a multi-faceted and detailed call to action, the condensed version of which appears below.


Among its priorities, Ontarians for the Arts requests that the duly elected Government of Ontario implement the following recommendations in short order, ideally by Budget 2019:

  • Create an infrastructure investment program that facilitates Ontarians’ access to arts and culture, and helps leverage federal investments, with a $30M annual base allocation for the next 10 years.
  • Follow through on the current increases planned for the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) to $80M base by 2020-21 and commit to increasing the OAC’s funding base to $160M by 2025-26 to ensure greater accessibility to the arts for Ontarians, while adapting to changing demographics.
  • Advocate with Federal counterparts to ensure that Ontario’s leadership role in Canada’s vibrant arts and culture scene is reflected in federal policy and funding decisions.\
  • Set achievement and development guidelines to ensure the arts education curriculum is prioritized and complements STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering and Math) goals. Our kids deserve STEAM!
  • Revitalize the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) by reintroducing a matching endowment incentives program with a $25M strategic investment.

The above ideas are informed by a robust arts policy discussion paper developed to encourage dialogue on a range of relevant issues with various stakeholders in the arts and culture sector, including everyday Ontarians and politicians of every stripe. We encourage you to review the full document, entitled Connections and Resilience through the Arts, which puts forth a variety of positions for consideration through 2021-22 and beyond. These proposals include ways to encourage the development of our cultural life, which also happens to be an important part of our province’s social & economic well-being. It is our wish to unleash the potential of the arts and cultural sector to benefit all Ontarians.”

Although the PC party does not mention arts and culture in its platform, the NDP, Green, and Liberal parties, and their local candidates, do include support for the arts.

Ontarians for the Arts has summarized each of the three main parties’ positions on arts and culture, based on their platforms. Their platform analysis, “Backgrounder: Party specific arts and culture positions” was published May 13, 2018. Green Party of Ontario priorities are summarized in the Ontario Nonprofit Network “Summary of Party Positions” and below.

Highlights and sources include:

The Green Party: Green Party of Ontario Policy Book, Platform
The Green Party’s priorities align with community-based art, renewing the culture strategy, and increasing support for the OAC, OCAF and OAF.

  • “Will prioritize community-based arts and culture programming with grants and support access to all Ontarians to participate in these activities.” (Green Party of Ontario Policy Book)
  •     the renewal of Ontario’s culture strategy every 5 years and
  • increased support for Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund and Ontario Arts Foundation (ONN Summary of Party Positions)
  • They also state that “…vacation entitlement will also support local tourism (eco-tourism), arts and culture industries, and open up summer employment opportunities for students and young people who currently suffer the highest levels of unemployment.” (Green Party of Ontario Policy Book)

The Liberals: Ontario Liberal Party Platform 2018, Budget
The Liberals provide a detailed plan for continued support of arts and culture industries, infrastructure, organizations, agencies, and individuals.
  • [Continued investments in arts and culture, including] music, libraries, museums, theatres and other cultural centres
  • enhance students’ access to arts education in dance, drama, music and the visual arts, including a $3 million investment to refurbish musical instruments
  • support live music, preserve our heritage and invest in our creative industries, including publishing, digital media and our thriving film and TV industry.
  • renewing downtown areas and helping people who want to establish community hubs.
Our plan is:
  • Investing an additional $50 million in the Ontario Arts Council, which provides grants to arts organizations throughout the province, bringing provincial funding to $80 million annually by 2020-21 and working to further enhance funding beyond that date
  • Investing up to $26 million in a Main Street Revitalization Initiative to help communities boost jobs and growth 
  • Promoting more engagement for seniors in the arts
  • Investing $28 million over three years to create a provincial Digital Public Library to enhance access to digital content across all communities
  • Increasing operating funding to public libraries by $51 million over three years
  • Supporting the development of community hubs by better utilizing provincially owned 39 properties, a new capital grant program and providing useful resources, such as an online portal to connect groups and provide facilitation and mediation support
  • Transforming Ontario Place into an all-season waterfront attraction, including a 20- acre green space to host open-air events in Toronto
  • Supporting Indigenous culture
  • Helping Toronto save key cultural and social purpose institutions, such as 401 Richmond, by creating a new property tax class to lower the cost of operating these properties

The Progressive Conservatives:
The PCs do not mention arts and culture in their platform. For hints on the party and leader’s position, see the Backgrounder Platform Analysis prepared by Ontarians for the Arts which sites several news articles from 2013/2014 and Patrick Brown’s People’s Guarantee.

The NDP: Platform, Vision Document
The New Democratic Party focuses on supporting media and cultural industries through (among other things), ‘fair and predictable’ funding formulas, tax credits, zoning opportunities, expanding the industry’s reach and job creation for First Nations.
  • work with the screen-based industry, responsible for tens of thousands of jobs and bringing in over one billion dollars to the province in 2015, to continue to grow and expand its geographic reach in the province.
  • ensure Ontario has industry-competitive tax credits for film and television production
  • work with municipalities to streamline zoning opportunities for innovative, state-of-the-art production spaces.
  • aim to expand the industry’s reach by working with the skilled trades, producers and talent to bring productions and create jobs in northern Ontario, with a focus on career skills development with First Nations.”
  • make sure the Ontario Council for the Arts and the Ontario Media Development Corporation have the resources needed to strengthen and grow our cultural sector.
  • apply fair and predictable funding formulas, done in consultation with the arts and culture sectors, while ensuring the viability of festivals and other events in large and small communities across Ontario.
  • expand protections under the Employment Standards Act, and address the gaps in benefits that affect many self-employed people in cultural industries.

The critical thing in this election is to get out and vote – and vote for the arts!

Dancer creates honest, cathartic experiences for non-dancers

by Petra Nyendick


Barbara Dametto is a visual artist, dancer, actor/playwright, expressive arts practitioner and educator. She received her formal education at the University of Waterloo (B.A. Dance, Kinesiology, Theatre), York University (B. Ed. Fine Arts Education), and Fleming College (Expressive Arts). Over the years she has worked in Toronto, Port Hope, Peterborough, Bancroft, and Guelph as a dancer, choreographer, painter, actor, clown, school teacher, and yoga/meditation/sacred sound instructor.

In an interview, Barbara speaks with Petra Nyendick, who serves on Guelph Arts Council’s Board of Directors.

Barbara DamettoImage courtesy of the artist. 

GAC: Thanks for taking the time to share with us some of your many creative endeavours! I've noticed that you're very active in the local arts scene. You dance, paint and practice sacred sounding. Have I missed anything? Do you consider one of these disciplines your favourite art form as a means of expression? 

BD: That's a good question. Yes, I practice many different forms of art and am quite involved in the Guelph community. There's the journey dance, my yoga classes, my paintings, and my sound healing practice. Many times artists have several different disciplines that they use to convey their messages. At times it feels most appropriate for me to use paint, and sometimes my body through dance and music, and other times writing or mask making. But to answer your question, I would say that dance has always been my true love! I've always danced and known I'd be a dancer. It's hard-wired into my being. When I'm dancing I have no worries and no sense of separation from the music and the moment. It's the most natural thing in the world to me. It keeps me deeply connected to the bigger picture of life - "the letting go of self and merging with the One" so to speak.

If dance is your true love, let's talk about that first. What kind of workshops and classes do you offer and are they for beginners, or more advanced students? 

In the past I used to teach modern dance and contact improvisation classes. But recently I’ve become increasingly interested in providing dance “experiences” for people as opposed to technique-based movement. It’s probably because I myself have become less interested in that type of dance.  

I come from a ballet and modern dance background. As I’ve matured as an artist, I realize that dance really is an expression of one’s inner voice. It should be something that everyone has access to practicing regardless of age, gender or background. 

Journey Dance is something that I am a big fan of. It’s a form of freestyle dance that follows 12 unique rhythms. In a nutshell, I carefully prepare a 1.5 hour long playlist of music that follows the journey dance flow. Participants gather in a large, open space and I lead them through the 12 different sections. People are encouraged to go deep into their own bodies and drop into the moment. They listen to the music and use the associated themes presented for each rhythm to express themselves. The process is fun, cathartic and often intense. At the end of a session, people often say that they feel a deep sense of peace and awareness. 

I believe that this type of dance (which I refer to as conscious dance), can be very healing and help people to connect to themselves while creating a sense of confidence and community.

What advice would you give to people that are inhibited dancing in a group setting? How can one just "let go"?

Most people have reservations about dancing with others. It usually takes a wedding or a club (and lots of alcohol) to get people warmed up and over their inhibitions. To be able to let go and trust the Journey Dance experience takes courage and commitment. 

When I lead a conscious dance event, I spend time, in the beginning, sitting in a circle and checking in with participants. I ask for one word. This gives people an opportunity to express how they are feeling. I usually hear words like: "excited, scared and curious". I think that all these words are totally appropriate.

Dance allows us to lose ourselves and find ourselves at the same time. That is indeed a scary business! So, I always congratulate people for taking the time to show up and dive into precisely what frightens them most. Yes, it may be intimidating because people are generally afraid of the unknown; of being exposed in some way. But I remind people that we are all here to become more alive!

Dance opens us in a way that is unique and often revealing. And, it is also fun, invigorating and playful. It builds stamina, trust, perseverance and courage. Please remember that people are invited to express themselves in any way they want. There are no rules or prescribed steps. So, in essence, they give themselves permission to be totally honest and authentic. When in life are we EVER given permission to do this - to celebrate our uniqueness and to do so in a supportive, safe environment?

Once the workshop comes to the end, people often feel totally transformed and at peace. We gather again in a circle and sit in silence because there often are no words to express what just happened. And besides, words can't pay justice to a totally immersive experience that transcends our logical minds. However, I often ask the group for one feeling word to close and hear words like, "peaceful, complete, open, grateful and blessed."

So, I suppose to answer your question, I would say that "letting go" takes practice and once we get better at it, our lives can change. The Journey Dance experience can actually help us to trust life in a deeply meaningful way. It speaks for itself.

Thanks for the interview, Barbara! Would you like to tell us about your upcoming classes and workshops around town and how people can register if they are interested? 

My Journey Dance events are basically once a month (except for July and August) on the last Sunday from 2:00-3:30 PM. They are always at Guelph Youth Dance Studio (42 Quebec St.) which is a really beautiful, large space! Sprung wood floors (newly sanded and finished), big windows, nice vibe. http://www.movement42.com/about/.

You can check out a sample of what and how I facilitate at the Guelph Dance Festival Dance Market on Saturday, June 2nd, at 1:00 PM at Exhibition Park. The Dance market will feature local health and movement practitioners allowing for a fantastic networking opportunity for movement specialists and for patrons to learn more about what's offered in Guelph.https://www.guelphdance.ca/festival/call/.

My co-facilitated events with Gary Diggins called, "Moving the Body, Sounding the Soul" generally take place the last Tuesday of each month at Silence (46 Essex St.) from 7:30-9 PM. http://www.garydiggins.com/cutenews/calendar.php.

I also teach an 8-week long Chakra Yoga course at Silence on Monday evenings from 5:00-6:30 PM. Check out my website to see when the next one is:https://www.breathetrue.com/workshops-and-events.

Other than that, there are several other events that I co-teach with local talented artists and workshop facilitators that are posted on my website.

I also hold private sound healing and yoga classes out of my house in Guelph. I have a beautiful space there set up with all of my sacred instruments and yoga equipment. Simply email me to set up an appointment: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..









GCF logo horiz BW