By John Swartz
Despite all the problems downtown merchants are experiencing this year, things are looking up. There are a few new businesses which have opened this year, and this month, there is another new business which will open, and another that moved – so it feels new when you walk in.
Beginning with the one about to open for the first time, Anitta Hamming hung the Creative Nomad Studios name on the front of the old Bi-way store Thursday.
Looking at the building, even for those who have lived here for decades, it’s difficult to remember the way it looked just last year. After all, it was the Aleppo of storefronts on Mississaga Street. The façade almost looks like a mirror image of its westerly neighbor, The Swinton Building, because it was built that way.
Only a major structural change to the 2nd floor window arrangement in the Nomad building, affected years ago, prevented identical twins from existing on the street. Hamming tore out the awful main floor façade and replicated the Swinton look.
According to Hamming there were at least three fires over time. She kept all the evidence, cleaned it up and incorporated it into the design of the interior. She even restored the handrails and banisters on stair ways.
There’s a parking lot out back, and she made what was a service door into an accessible entryway and there are accessible washrooms on each floor.
It’s a work space. There are offices and meeting rooms scattered throughout, there’s a kitchen, but more important is the central space on each floor. They are wide open and designed for modular use. The second floor features a stage suitable for photography or videography. As many as three different shoots can take place at once and they can be livestreamed. Speaking of live stream, at the front door is a space that can be used for podcasating with an active street for a background, or flip the set for a background out of a box.
Three are a ton things which can happen at Creative Nomad and the first thing to happen will be a good workout for the space. The Orillia & District Arts Council is staging this year’s Culture Days there October 24.
Originally intended to be a public event (with limited spectator capacity), ODAC this week decided to still have the event, but make it virtual.
Some of the day’s proceedings October 24th were going to be livestreamed anyway, now more of it will be. Check back next week for a full schedule.
ODAC held their annual general meeting this week. From my perch outside the organization the last year was a watershed year after years of atrophy. They have a rejuvenated board, which expanded last week to include Jimi’s daughter, Miranda McKee, additions of programming – even though programming basically went with the wind for all other groups. They snagged a $5,000 grant this year, and are waiting for approvals on about $135.000 in grants (there are some interesting local programs hatching if the grants come through).
ODAC was a co-lead on the culture file in the City’s economic recovery program – which directly resulted in the Friday and Saturday evening pedestrian mall downtown. their website is getting a makeover, but if you’ve been by lately, you’ll notice there have been many postings relevant to artists about programs and activates of other organizations artist might take advantage of.
And, this year there have been 20 nominations received for the Orillia Regional Arts & Heritage Awards which ODAC partners with OMAH on. There are 5 categories, this means an average of 4 nominations were received for each, and that’s the best field in several years. The ceremony is happening in November and it will be livestreamed from the Leacock Museum
The board basically remains the same, including additions of Peter Stranks and Dennis Rizzo earlier this year. Miranda is replacing Mary Jo Pollak. Next week’s board meeting will determine who will fill roles, chair, treasurer, etc.,
Actual membership in ODAC has improved, but not anywhere near as much as I think it should. The Orillia Fine Arts Association rejoined ODAC this year; there are other similar groups who should as well. Of course most artists work alone painting or writing, and this is is another area membership should be booming but isn’t. It seems to me the single most important reason to be a member is knowing ODAC is a member of The Arts & Entertainment Plan.
Big deal, you say. If you knew that means you as an ODAC member have access to a group insurance healthcare benefit program, you might change the tone of your big deal thought. I think this is huge. Joining ODAC gets you access, and an equally important voice in ODAC and by extension the community well beyond your own creative output.
The future looks bright, and could get blinding if even half of the grants ODAC has applied for come through in the coming year. Congrats to the board for all the smart work.
Makers Market Moves
Dave and Beth Shaw aren’t just the proprietors of Maker’s Market (Dave also makes all the furniture displayed), they are expert movers. They moved the store last Saturday next door to Rustica Pizza. I was in Thursday, no boxes kicking around, no empty shelves to fill yet, everything looking like a million bucks and clean.
The new space is as big as the old, thought it looks a little cozier. There’s a new desk, which really looks cool. This part of the downtown, below Peter Street has only one vacant storefront. Well, Matchedash Lofts has a few, but those are going to be filled soon.
Between this block, and the one where Creative Nomad, the library and Opera House are, downtown is going to be a happening little place – once we’re allowed to go out and play with full battle gear.
The Best Laid Plan
My continuing analysis of the Leacock master plan has to wait a week.
* MichaeL Martyn has a new video of his tune, Bad For You, from his Rude Mechanicals album. It’s fresh today right here.
* Zain Campbell’s music is used in this video.
* Wait.. there’s more. Brent Mayhew has some piano music, Court Stone’s Ottawa Valley Song here.
* Not music, but Northern Joinery (Makers Market) has a third installment in their video series you can watch later today here.
* Lee Contemporary Art has a reception for a mom and daughter show Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. It’s for Annie Kmyta Cunnington and Tanya Cunnington.
* Each night from the 15th to the 18th the Opera House has the Artist Life Stories Series, an evening of interview, music and Q&A from audiences in the same manner as when Rik Emmett was last here. The first night is with Dougie Franklin, I mean musician Ian Thomas. Ian is a funny guy. Every time I’ve interviewed him has been hilarious. Next evening it’s with Luke McMaster, then Amy Sky and then Murdoch Mystery author Maureen Jennings. Tickets are available here.
* There are two youth center fundraisers happening to establish scholarship funds. One in memory of Jake Beers the Beers family calls hxmesweethxme. Check out their Facebook page for opportunities to contribute. Anitta Hamming also created an online raffle for two of the paintings created for the Metamorphosis project. You can get a ticket here, and you can also see, or buy, other art at that link.
* OMAH has a Carmichael Lecture discussion of Carmichael by Wil Kucey of Canadian Fine Arts you can watch online. Oct. 21 another online event happens; the 2020 Virtual Carmichael Art History Lecture with Jim and Sue Waddington, who travelled to the places painted by the Group of Seven; It’s $10 to participate and you sign up at 705-326-2159 to get a link to the event. OMAH also has another round of the QuarARTine, 6×6 pieces for auction here and the gallery is open by appointment, 705-326-2159.
* The Orillia branch of Dress For Success has a progressive, online, raffle called Toonie Tuesday. The next jackpot draw is Oct. 13. Tickets are $2 and you can buy as many as you like. Check their Facebook page frequently for updates on the jackpot and weekly winners.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia; Images Supplied)