This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

In Ontario, Solve For X, 2+2=X    (3.21753?)

Except for one year in high school I never really had any trouble with math (made up for it the next year, 2nd best marks – in the next grade thank you), especially the kind involving money. So its puzzling trying to figure out just what the heck the government, the Ontario government, our government, not someone’s name stamped all over it government, is doing with this latest budget.

First of all, it’s 4 billion higher than the last one premier Wynne had. Yup, 4 billion higher – with a projected deficit of another $7 billion on top of that. This does not sound to me like anyone wearing blue pinstripes has a lock on being ‘fiscally responsible’ or good money managers (only the NDP, all NDP provincial governments, in Canada in the 50 years ending in 2011 get to claim that – without cutting social services and education, and increasing GDP).

So here’s where the culture part comes in (not even going to go near totally cutting funding for midwives, and firing teachers).

The biggest library in the province is all the libraries in the province. The Southern Ontario Library service and Ontario Library Service – North got their paltry budgets (SOLS was at $3 million) cut in half. So now if you want to borrow something the Orillia Public Library doesn’t have (because there isn’t one library with all the books, DVDs, CDs and other material) you can’t get it through the inter-library loan service SOLS operated.

Many of you know I was on the library board once upon a time, so I could go on about the total lack of attention the province pays to libraries (that’s all parties). Certainly understanding how libraries exist, why they exist and how they get funded is not top of mind for most. Just look at the story I did Thursday, or rather the comments. The most vocal about cut, cut, cut, don’t understand a thing about it, nor do they have anything resembling an understanding of the right numbers to back up their perception.

This is outrageous. They’re taking more in revenue, claiming poverty, spending more and cutting services. Where is the money going? Spiffy new license plates?

Canada population distribution
Canada population distribution
I’m Not Done

We are a big country and virtually all of us live within 100 miles of the boarder, well, except for Edmonton. We have a history of collectively funding through government a number of things that bind us together starting with the railroad, the radio network that followed and then became the CBC, satellites in space to reflect television, data a voice transmissions from Labrador to British Columbia, the list goes on.

Then we had something called the Cancon rule, which overnight changed Canadian radio and made it Canadian by requiring stations play music made by Canadians. Who knew we had so many talented musicians? Lighthouse, Rush, Michael Buble, Five Man Electrical Band, Sarah McLachlan, The Box, The Hip, every single one of them had careers because of Cancon (not going to mention Justin Bieber because I think he’s an alien).

Here in Ontario we also have an organization called Ontario Creates which administers something called the Ontario Music Fund. Until last week they got $15 million dollars of which they distributed $14 million to others. They granted money to musicians, record labels, festivals and various other kinds of music industry ventures.

Keep in mind, we are a small country sleeping next to a behemoth media giant, which on a good day we’re barely able to muscle out of the way. We have one tenth the population, so any musician trying to make a living in music, well, you’d be surprised how many ‘stars’ have day jobs.

So when the Slocan Ramblers, The Trews, the Good Lovelies, Natalie McMaster, Royal Wood and a very long list of musicians get a grant of $20k to $50k to help their careers, and when the Rastafest, Toronto Vocal Arts Festival get even smaller grants, or Canadian Music Week, the Ottawa Jazz Festival or the Mariposa Folk Festival get grants of $100k or more, musicians get to make some of their living playing drums instead of flipping burgers or dealing with all the Karen’s hissing, ‘I want to speak to your manager – now!” Full list here.

It’s true, Live Nation, Sony, Universal and Warner had their hands in the pot to the tune of $1.8 million and you’ll never hear me argue they should have got so much as phone bill money, but the overwhelming majority of the rest went to a lot of B, C, and D, list musicians and small record companies and music festivals.

The Ontario Music Fund budget was cut to $7 million, prompting the question – what’s worse than being a library?

Imagine a life without Nickleback. OK, bad example. Imagine a life without Walk Off the Earth, they got a grant of $50k to help them become an international act. I’m guessing it will be a while before they get to go to the trough again, but then we helped them bring music, Canadian music, to the world.

But we’re in poverty, so the government is going to take $4 billion from you and me and spend another $7 billion beyond the last government’s last budget in order to take way the things we need to be a society – books, music, teachers, people to bring new people into the world.

Last time an industry got holes punched in it like this was when Mike Harris almost ruined a burgeoning film industry (hello British Columbia, you’re welcome). We still haven’t recovered, but at least there’s still some of it left.

I know it’s been 40 years, OK, a little more than 40 years, but I just can’t make the math work. The next time you hear a conservative talking about money management, ask them how they did in math back in high school because more from us does not equal less to us – unless you are a conservative. Where’s Bill Davis when you need him.

The Weekend

I’m just realizing why we had a long weekend. Rest. This weekend it’s going to be nuts. The folks at the Orillia Museum of Art and History are going to be looking forward to a lazy week next week.

At 7 p.m. Thursday a reception for three exhibits – Mnjikaning: Mapping the Life of the Gaudaurs, Styling Orillia: A Look Back at Our Fashionable Past and Playful Banquet: An Anthropomorphic Apocalyptic Feast by Scott Sawtell happens.

Redress Project
Redress Project

Friday at noon OMAH is the center for the Redress Project, and installation inspired by Metis artist Jaime Black. If you see a red dress out of context in the downtown Friday, it’s part of the exhibition. Becky Big Canoe is the speaker at OMAH for the launch.

Saturday it’s off to Lakehead University for the annual Mariposa Gala fundraiser for the museum’s children’s programs. It’s a schmoozy night with food by 125 Breakfast Club, The Cheesy Pickup, Shine, Kathy’s Kakes, and Sanafir. Music by the Jazz Byrds, Tony Bianco will be working in the corner creating a painting and Andre Derrick from Vineland Estates will walk you through the wine tasting, are on the list of things to do. Tickets are $75 and it starts at 7 p.m.  However, for another $25 you can be at the VIP part of the evening at 6 p.m. Tony will be speaking about his art, Tre Sorelle has the food and you could win two hour of performance at your choosing by the Will Davis Trio.

This of course is all happening during the Roots North Music Festival. Thursday night Craig Mainprize will be at the Hog N’ Penny to stickhandle trivia night so know your Roots North trivia. Friday night Ariana Gillis, Rose Cousins, and Ron Sexsmith are on the main stage at St. Paul’s Centre; Saturday night it’s VK (Steve and Marnie Van Kessel), Alysha Brilla, and the Weather Station. Both main stage nights are sold out, but there’s music afterward both nights at other venues and a full day Saturday all over downtown. See the complete schedule here.

Then there’s those funny folks from The Old Dance Hall Players. They’ll be at the Geneva for a night of improv comedy. Email for tickets. Get them as soon as you are done reading because they sold out the last few shows

The music students at Orillia Secondary School are holding their annual Spring Fling fundraiser and silent auction Friday night at the school. The 7 p.m. event features the bands (they’ve got a Dixieland band this year) and Brassworks. Tickets are $20 and you can get them at the school.

Over at Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School they are doing High School Musi-pocalypse Thursday and Friday nights. It’s a parody of the play/movie High School Musical with 40 students involved. Tickets are $10, $5 for students and seniors and you an order you by calling the school, 705-

Patrick Fogarty students Rafael Martinez and Isabel Livie in High School Musi-pocalypse.

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The Shorts

*  Tickets are on sale now for OMAH’s annual Carmichael History Lecture May 3. Robert Browne is going to talk about father-in-law’s (Emmanuel Hahn) Bluenose and Caribou coins, and Tony Bianco has designed so many coins for the mint he has trouble sneaking up on people with all that jingling happening. He just announced the release of a new gold coin for the 100th anniversary of CN Rail. Storytelling Orillia’s monthly is Sunday at 2 p.m. with Margaret Ford, Lorna Bolden, Lisa Gillette, Gord Ball and Don Evans telling stories about Arts for Peace.

Alex at Arts for Peace 2015
Alex at Arts for Peace 2015

*  Hibernation Arts has the last of their poetry reading series Sunday at 1 p.m. with Myna Wallin and Dorothy Sjoholm. Admission is $10; a new show, Abstractly Thinking starts May 4 and Bling for Mother (work by Cheryl Sartor and Donna Howlett) starts May 7. The Orillia Fine Arts Association is prepping for an exhibit end of May featuring post cards. It’s a fundraiser for Mariposa House Hospice with all proceeds to that project. The exhibition will be at Peter Street Fine Arts with the opening reception June 1 at 1 p.m. Get more info here.

*  You have until 4:30 p.m. April 30 to do the survey regarding the fate of the Champlain Monument.

*  The June 8 Leacock Medal dinner tickets are on sale now at the museum. These always sell out and are $75. June 7 is the meet the authors night at the Mariposa Inn and tickets are $20. You have to go to the museum to get tickets. See Tuesday’s story for the list of nominated books.  Also, the Conner Poetry Prize submission period ends Apr. 30. Submissions are up considerably in all categories this year. Top prizes in the adult, student and elementary categories are $750, $200 and $75. Get entry details here

*  There are still tickets available for Lance Anderson, with Russ Boswell and Quisha Wint, at St. Paul’s Center May 3. It’s a fundraiser for the Orillia Youth Centre’s Valis Sound Studio project and the Nelson Bell bursary. Get tickets ($150) at Alleycats Music or online.

*  Cottage Countrycon is back for another year. It happens May 19 at the Mariposa Inn. This year’s headliner is Jim Shooter, who began writing for DC Comics at the age of 14, and eventually became editor in chief at Marvel Comics. Recently added to the lineup are Phil Oritz (Simpsons and He-Man), Mike Decarlo, Leonard Kirk and there will be an all day Dingeons and Dragons tournament. Get tickets here.

*  Coming up… Lake Country Grill has Daryl Alvaro in Apr. 24; Charlotte and the Dirty Cowboys Apr.26; Chris Lemay May 1… ; the Opera House has the last Orillia Concert Association event of their season is May 5 with Kerry Stratton and the Toronto Concert Orchestra; See My Voice (black light theater) happens Mat 7 at 4:30 and 7 p.m.; Matt Andersen and the Mellotones are in May 8; Classic Albums Live with Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy is May 9; the Orillia Silver Band’s spring concert is May 12 at 2:30 p.m. … Paul court, with Scott Thomas, has a house concert May 4, email

(Photos by Pexcels, Pixabay, Submitted – Image by Stats Canada)

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