This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orillia and District annual Bowl For Kids’ Sake event is different this year. Because of that they are struggling to maintain the amount of money they traditionally raise.

“Normally this event has been bringing in about $30,000 each year and with us not having it we’re really strapped for some of that money because it’s our biggest fundraiser,” said Leslie Adlam, the organization’s fundraising and event coordinator.

She means not having it over 4 days at Orillia Bowl and 2 days at the Coldwater Bowling Centre. It’s, like most other forms of entertainment, going online this year and you can participate/watch on their Facebook page.

You might be wondering why a sport is showing up in the entertainment column. Have you not been part of the bench watching just about anyone else throw a ball which may not end up in the gutter? It’s some of the purest entertainment going, especially if the player happens to have just told everyone how good they are.

For this event they have engaged the services of a band.

“We had to cancel our in-person annual Bowl For Kids Sake because of the coronavirus, so we decided to do a virtual one, which we managed to get Cheryl and the band (Charlotte and The Dirty Cowboys) to be a part of it. We’re going to broadcast on our Facebook page with Cheryl as well as with Mayor Steve Clarke and MPP Jill Dunlop,” said Adlam.

This is the bit where you come in. If you have participated in the past, or wanted to but were afraid of being the player in my example above, this is your year. Go to the website and scroll down to the register button. You’ll then see a new page to fill in your details (minimum donation $7) and you’ll get an email with a link to the bowling app and details how to play. You can also go back to the starting page and hit the donate button to give more.

Here’s a hint, because I tried it, when the game loads on your computer, play a round or two before you make your event run at 7 p.m. Thursday. It takes a bit of practice to get used to the controls and figure out how to get a strike.

“When they get to the end of the app they get a screenshot of it and they can send it to us on the Facebook page,” said Adlam. When you play, you may get a share this on Twitter overlay; just click anywhere in the box and it will go away so you can screenshot on your phone, or print screen on your computer, to paste into Facebook. You can also chat with Leslie and whoever else is hanging around between the 7 to 9 p.m. event.

You might be wondering what Steve and Jill are on board for. Over here, we’re hoping they aren’t part of the band. They have another function.

“We kept our crazy hat theme for this year and we want people to submit their crazy hat on Facebook as well. That’s what we have Steve and Jill for, they are going to judge the hats,” said Adlam.

There are prizes for bowling accomplishments and peculiar taste in hats. The top fundraiser gets a mattress set from Leon’s. Second place gets an overnighter at the Couchiching Inn (where they may have mattresses from Leon’s, so don’t be too envious you missed that last pin). Other prizes include bowling and Barrie Paintball passes. The highest score gets 4 passes to the Art Gallery of Ontario, so there’s the appeal to readers of this column.

Locally, Big Brothers Big Sisters helps a lot of kids.

2019 Bowl For Kids’ Sake participants

“This program helps support 300 of the local youths,” said Adlam. After considering additions lately she said, “it’s closer to 400.” Right now they have 24 kids with no match and at the moment they have another problem.

“We have had a huge influx of female volunteers. The only issue is the OPP will not process vulnerable sector background checks at the moment.”

Bottom line is, if you can spare some money, I don’t think there is a better place to make use of it.

City Hall On Arts/Culture

Monday Orillia council made the biggest contribution to arts and culture in all my time here in Orillia. There have been some pretty big ones before, rescuing the Sunshine Festival budget about 20 years ago when it seemed there were enough votes to kill it, building the library, doing an economic study and creating a short-lived culture department, those are significant, but I don’t think these 9 council members realize the enormity of deciding to make all of the $241,000 grants budget carry on in 2020.

They could easily have taken the sidedoor and cancelled the money based on the fact virtually all of the events relying on the bit of help the City chips in are not happening. They could have trimmed the budget and left some money in place for those events which may happen or to cover expenses incurred so far, but they left all of it.

Ray Merkley, the community services department director, indicated to council staff thinking shifted between writing the report and presenting it to council.

“Based on further discussion staff has prepared a modification to Option 1 that eliminates the proportion requirement and only require an organization spend at least the amount of the grant,” Merkley said. The key change was altering the motion wording which required grant recipients to report why any grant was used for other than requested purposes because of the pandemic. Most, if not all, recipients have ongoing expenses, which grants help bridge the gap between revenue generating events. Theoretically, if there is no event, there should be no expense, but that thinking would be wrong.

“If there ever was a time to support culture, just for viability and for definition of who we are, but for their mere survival – I believe it is right now – so I am in full support for this,” said Mayor Steve Clarke.

There will be groups who won’t have expenses and normally get a grant for their day of, those won’t be getting their grant.

“It appears to me this is status quo, if you don’t need the money then you don’t need the money, but if you do it’s there,” said Lauer.

Those two comments mean if the amount the city grants means the difference between survival and limping toward next year, City Hall is not going to quibble the money wasn’t used exactly as intended if it means an event lives for another day.

The only change to the motion was to shift $10,000 granted to the Mariposa Folk Festival for their 60th anniversary festival from this year to next year. Regardless of when it happens the next festival will be the 60th. The remaining grant given to Mariposa as part of a 4 year plan remained as is.

Streets Alive
2019 Streets Alive
2019 Streets Alive

One of the groups breathing sigh of relief their grant remains is Streets Alive. The event planned for this year, which was themed around the Mariposa 60th, is put off a year.

“We’re delaying the launch until 2021, but we still have pay for Ron (Schell) to make them (scaled down VW minibuses) and for the artists to get their honorariums to be working on them,’ said Streets Alive’s Leslie Fournier.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be anything on main street to brighten things up. There are 10 year’s worth of sculptures which can be relocated for the summer.

“I said to the downtown there’s obviously a collection of sculptures we can put out on the street if they want the street to look colourful,” said Leslie. “I’ve been in conversation with the DOMB. I can get them out whenever, but I’m waiting to hear from them what the best timing is.”


The Orillia Museum of Art and History has been closed and staff laid off. Ninette Gyorody, as captain of the ship, is the only one still working – with the help of the museum’s volunteer cadre.

“I have amazing volunteers. Phil Jackman is looking after our Facebook posts and coming up with a lot of content. The history committee is driving a lot of the history content,” she said.

Their Facebook page has a number of posts featuring works of art which were part of exhibits, and links to videos of a few of their History Night speaker’s presentations (which you can also find on their Youtube page). You could spend an afternoon on either page – and then go back the next day for more.

“We’re trying to provide a balance of art posts and history posts,” Ninette said.

OMAH Solve the Mystery
OMAH Solve the Mystery

One of the things they are doing on the Facebook page is posting pictures of stuff from their collection which need some help identifying what they are.

“We’re just calling it Solve the Mystery. We might have something in our collection, but we don’t have any background information on it.”

Just this morning a new video of Dr. Chris Dekker’s account of the history of Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital was posted. Ninette is also narrating the stories provided by artists who had work in this year’s International Women’s Day Show and will be putting them up as they are completed.

They also have an online survey taking place right now. So far they have had 200 responses, but are continuing with it to get the best picture of what the community thinks. They too are trying to plan for a future with no map.

They are trying to gauge the expectations of gallery visitors when a reopening happens. Things like, are you likely to go? How soon? What would you like to see? Will you participate in their programs like exhibition openings and art classes?

What do you want to see them do in terms of protecting you while you are there? Don’t worry about having to come up with anything, they have check lists for this and most of the other questions they ask. It doesn’t take long to do the survey

The Shorts

*   The McLaren Art Gallery published a story about Bewabon Shilling you might want to read. He had an exhibit which closed just as the stay-at-home order happened..

*  Nate Mills, our favourite Run With the Kittens band member,  has been busy, He has a new website for you to check out.

* I stumbled on a video of Orillia as seen from a drone. It’s mostly the waterfront and I thought it was interesting to see how this old place looks from the air.

*  If you missed Portage Creative’s (Cole and Lydia Bennett) Mini Film Festival, the good news is you can watch the films submitted here. It’s a series of shorts which lasts about an hour.

*  Creative Nomad Studios is initiating a show, 2020 Unlimited, and you can find details here. Anitta Hamming is using the windows in her under renovation community hub across the street from the Orillia Public Library to display the art. It’s a juried show.

*  The Orillia Public Library has a number of things you can do online through their website. They have games and programs to participate in as individuals or in groups. You can download music, movies and audiobooks. You can also take online courses.

*  Shawn William Clarke has a new album, Spectral Acoustics Vol 1, and you can listen to it on Bandcamp – you can buy it there too.

*   VK and the Legends of the Deep have a new video, It’s Smelling Like Roses from the Charm album.

* Here is a list of musicians (in no particular order) who have been doing concerts online.

Essential Concert Series  Thursdays, 8 p.m. Ronnie Douglas and Ritchie Benson play this week.

Steven Henry, Saturday’s, 8 p.m.

Bleeker, Facebook, Sundays, 6 p.m.

Bleeker, Instagram, Thursdays, 8 p.m.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Submitted) Main: Orillia Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl For Kids’ Sake 2019 (Submitted).

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