This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Tuesday evening a couple of important things happened at St. James’ Anglican Church. The Orillia and District Arts Council had their annual general meeting.

A dozen people were on hand to talk about the future of the organization. Over the last couple years it’s been flying lower than they’d like and the Streets Alive program has been the main activity.

A new board was put in place with Molly Farquharson, Kathryn Kaiser, Christine Hager, Lynn Fisher, Mary-Jo Pollak accepting spots and Jacqueline Soczka is a non-voting member .

ODAC has struggled, but the talk was about how to rejuvenate. Every organization at some point goes through a period of examining what just happened, and trying to figure out the way forward.

Here’s my opinion. There has been a fragmenting in the arts community that began when the City folded the culture department into parks and rec. I think a lot of people were very disappointed all the hard work that went into creating ODAC, creating a municipal policy on art, and the creation of the department was for nothing.

For a couple years a low arts community spirit was evident, but for the last two years things have been bouncing back. I think it took a while for everyone to take stock and figure out how to carry on. Several groups emerged with ideas and plans, which is good.


Today the arts community on the visual side is pretty strong and I think long termers would agree better than it was and maybe better than ever. Musically and on stage, those folks had the benefit of having an organization, the Orillia Performing Arts Forum, which was functioning mainly as a we should stay out of each other’s way group when it came to setting dates and programs. The rest of the music community, the bands and singers have grown in strength and output over the last 18 months.

But there’s a danger lurking, a too many cooks kind of thing, all playing in the same pot.  Sooner or later. It will not end well if a whole bunch of smaller subsets of the arts community go merrily along with their plans unaware of what others are doing. I’m waiting for the day one group announces something fairly big, just days or weeks ahead of another with the same idea or eyeing the same dates. It’s going to happen.

The other side is noses getting out of joint because group a, b, or c, wasn’t included in some scheme.

What I’m saying is ODAC served very well as a peacekeeper because they were at the center of things and could help smaller groups from running into each other and brick walls. They also were helpful in finding funding for some projects (which is a service the group discussed Tuesday night as something they wanted to make a relevant function again).

So, those of you in the various visual arts groups and institutions, OPAF, community hub proponents, some of you need to step forward and join, or re-join ODAC, designate someone in your group to go to the meetings; individual creators should join and be active, the businesses from venues to supply stores and retail, events organizations and even the chamber – all of you need to re-think your participation.

Here’s a question, how many of you artists have group insurance? Business insurance? Liability insurance when you do your thing in public? You know that’s one of the things other arts organizations offer to their members. You know those things are cheaper to get when it’s done through an organization than as one-offs. This is just one more reason to get ODAC back to better health.

Another thought. A very small group of people has been advocating on your behalf at City Hall. It’s not right or adequate to have a few looking out for the interests of all of you, and it’s much more effective if there are a hundred or more voices rather than less than a dozen. How about when its necessary to advocate at the provincial or federal level, do you think anyone will take the viewpoint of a coffee table sized group of voices seriously?

At the same time the culture desk at City Hall has been doing a lot of work on your behalf, but it’s nowhere near as much as before the department was scaled back, and council has made a number of decisions that take up a lot of the time for their own interests. We can’t go on with the same few people doing the grunt work on things like cleaning up the City’s art policy, creating a public art policy and so on. There is very little in the policy that as it is that takes into account art forms other than visual arts and there should be, like how about musicians getting paid fairly when they are asked to do gigs for City events. This situation exists because there were no musician voices at the table.

Make ODAC what it needs to be from your perspective, there doesn’t have to be one vision or function of ODAC.  We, Orillia, only needs to shoot itself in the foot once and I’m afraid with everyone running around focused on their own missions an accident is bound to happen. We worked hard together for quiet while to make Orillia a great place for art and artists, we worked for a time as many smaller groups to push things forward, there is still a lot to do. Those things will just take longer and be harder to accomplish without a strong central voice.

What Date Is it?

The other thing that happened was a workshop to create a community calendar of events. It was well attended but several groups didn’t show up (your welcome for thinking to put some of your annually recurring events on the list).

Marking up the calendar.

The calendar has existed for some time. The current version is a lot more effective than previous years. The main point of it is to claim dates for events. No one wants their big event to fail because they either didn’t check to see what else is happening.

Case in point was this past Sunday. The Orillia Concert Association had their first event of their concert calendar at the Opera House. Aside from the fact I realized Saturday night when I was in the Opera House I hadn’t heard from the group yet (and thinking I should get a hold of someone), I only found out about their concert half an hour before it happened, while I was at the Jazz Festival concert by Lance Anderson at St. Paul’s Centre. I wonder how many people would have liked to take in both concerts besides me. Probably quite a few people. My other thought was why on earth would anyone schedule an arts or entertainment event in competition with the Jazz Festival which happens every year on the same weekend?

Do you see the value of a community calendar?

If you weren’t there email right now with the dates and details of your event for 2020.

Get Lucky At The Opera House

Zachary Lucky has a new album out. Midwestern is country music for sure, but I don’t think I’d say it’s the kind of country that dominates the radio. Of the songs I’ve heard they sound different than radio tunes – and the songs on the album sound different from each other. Sometimes you can listen to a country radio station for a long time to hear a tune that stands out of the pack of sameness.

He’s hitting the road to promote the album and home, Orillia, is his second stop. You can check out some videos and get tickets to his Friday night Opera House gig here.

Thursday night Anne Marie Scheffler is back with a new show. If you remember her Suddenly Mommy show of a few years ago, well, this is a continuation of sorts. She’s still a mom , but a single mom now, hence the title MILF Life Crisis.  Divorce can be funny, getting back to dating funnier. I’m assuming that would be in the rear view mirror. Get tickets online or at the box office.

Did you have a listen to the Orillia Silver Band’s Sunday concert show opener? If you did, I’m sure you got tickets already. Other than The Light Fantastic, they’ll be playing The Hall of the Mountain King, Midway March  the 1812 Overture and A Song For Japan. The concert is at 2:30 p.m. and it’s a fundraiser for the Hillcrest Lodge.

Other stuff coming so to the Opera House is Mariposa Arts Theatre’s Urinetown. The two week run starts Nov. 7 and you might get tickets now. Derek Edwards is in Nov. 22 and the Downchild Blues Band is celebrating 50 years of making music Nov. 23

The Shorts

*  The deadline for nominations for the Orillia Regional Arts & Heritage Awards is Friday at 4 p.m. See my column from last week for some ideas of what happened in the last year that you may want to nominate, or maybe something sticks out in your mind that should get some recognition. Just do it. You can find more detail about the category criteria and nomination forms at either the ODAC or OMAH websites. Also, put Nov. 27 for the awards presentation at the Geneva Event Centre.

*  October 26 the DOMB has the Kids Costume Parade from noon to 3 p.m. starting at Studabakers. Bring a lunch pail to hold sweet stuff from participating merchants.

*  The Mariposa Folk Festival’s winter concert Oct. 26 is with an Echoes of Mariposa event. The Echoes are designed to give audiences a second crack at some of the previous summer festival’s performers. Rick Fines, The Doozies and James Gray will be playing at St. Paul’s Centre. Tickets are $35 in advance.

*  Orillia’s Fright Night Haunted House is at 370 Gill Street Oct. 30 and 31 from 5:30 to 11 p.m.  A group called Kckreations is behind it. It’s free, donations accepted. They also have an after party with a bonfire and other stuff. There’s a costume contest with cash prizes and you can get tickets and more information here.

*  The theme for next year’s Streets Alive art project downtown is a cool little contraption called the Hippie Van. All the details and application forms are at OMAH.  Why vans? It fits with next year’s 60th Mariposa Folk Festival. You have to have your application in by Nov. 15.

John Ross and Amy Swartz at OMAH

*  The Orillia Museum of Art and History has the Industrial Legacy: A History of Dorr-Oliver-Long  and Ingrid Mayrhofer’s After Krieghoff and Pest Control, works by John Ross and Amy Swartz. Also up is Tina Poplawski’s When The Green Dark Forest Was Too Silent To Be Real. Peter Street Fine Arts has oils and acrylics by Roger Pockett this month.  At Hibernation Arts see Mary Jo Pollack’s Equinox and the Fall Group Show;  the gallery concert is Oct. 24 with Buck and a Half (admission $20). Nancy Hunter has an evening of learning to paint at Tailwinds Oct. 29 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.; cost is $35; email to register.

*  Coming up… the Brownstone has Copper Viper in Wednesday night; DJ Subverse does Tech Night Friday;  DJ Subverse and the Long Tall Shadows open for Nathan Yell Saturday; Dylan Perkons and Jamie Grant are in Monday night… the Hog ‘N Penny has trivia night with Bill Dunlop every Thursday evening; Darrin Davis in Friday night; The HIllbirds are in Saturday; Louis LeFaive will play Nov. 1… Jakob Pearce plays every Thursday evening at Kensingtons… Irish Mythen is at St. Paul’s Centre Nov. 8; get tickets here…   Lance Anderson has a matinee of his Last Waltz show happening November 15 at Peter’s Players… MAT’s next film night at the Galaxy is Nov. 6 with Where’d You Go Bernadette… the 6th Annual Ugly Sweater Bowling Party is December 13; tickets go fast… the Geneva has the Polyester Slackers’s 80s Halloween Party Oct. 25 with DJ Rudy pushing play before the band goes on; tickets Are $10 at Gilbert Guitars or at the door; the Old Dance Hall Players are in Oct. 26; get tickets at the door or email in advance… Lake Country Grill has a Yuk Yuk’s comedy show Thursday night.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia, or supplied)

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