By John Swartz
CORRECTION: We owe an apology to Christine Hager for having a momentary lapse of reason and misidentifying her as Christine Jarvis.
Being creative is some way I think is fundamental to being human. It can take many forms. A well-known painter once said to me a janitor who enjoys pushing a broom can make that his art.
Similarly there are many who think they have no artistic talent, yet making sure rows of figures on a balance sheet do in fact balance at the bottom. For others it’s a spotless, postcard worthy home or yard.
For most it’s drawing, painting, writing, making music, dancing, acting or organizing those who those things into a show/production.
I don’t know if Martin Scorsese can act, but who can argue he’s not an artist. Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to spend some time with him, picking his brain and learning how he does what he does? Finding out what his process is from, ‘I have and idea,’ to showing the finished product.
The young people who use the Orillia Youth Centre can do that for the next year thanks to a donation from the Orillia and District Arts Council. ODAC has donated a membership to Master Class. How it came to be is a bit of serendipity.
“I forget how I landed on the Master Class, it was something to do with Margaret Atwood,” said Christine Hager. Browsing through the information on the website was interesting enough, but something else had happened and next thing ODAC was a a member.
“We got a rebate back from our insurance company for COVID,” Christine said. She signed up. “It was a two for one deal.”
So now ODAC was the proud owner of entre into a world of learning from people who know their subjects. And there were two memberships, so why not give one to the kids.
They can take courses on just about any subject. Margaret Atwood’s is 23 sessions long and covers having the idea, developing it, wrestling with staying in the story, to publishing. All the courses are multi-session and come with workbooks.
Some of the other writers involved are Aaron Sorkin, Neil Gaiman, Billy Collins (former Orillia summer resident and U.S. poet laureat), David Mamet and R.L. Stine.
Natalie Portman David Lynch, Samuel L Jackson, and Jodie Foster are some of the movie teachers. Itzhak Perlman, Seila E., Timbaland, Carlos Santana, Usher, Herbie Hancock, Deadmau5 and Hans Zimmer have music courses available. On the business side of entertainment Bob Iger (former head of Disney) Bob Woodward, Chris Voss (negotiating), Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein (advertising)are a few of the course leaders.
What if those areas aren’t sparking anything, you want to act, but not on a stage, or at least a traditional stage. Then it’s government for you and you can learn from Paul Krugman, David Axelrod, Karl Rove, and Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Yeah, yeah , yeah, not all kids are into artsy fartsy stuff, some are into sports. A foolish notion that is. Watch Gretzky play and tell me that’s not art. Or how about Tony Hawk, he’s got a course, as do Stephen Curry, Garry Kasparov, Serena Williams and Will Wright (Sim City, game design and theory).
That’s cherry picking some names, there are many more, even for kitchen artists (yes, Gordon Ramsay is on board). There are even science courses with people like Chris Hadfield, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Jane Goodall.
Of all the things Kevin Gangloff has brought into the youth center for the kids to learn while they are having fun, this to me is one thing which may possibly have life-long effect on many of the kids. They are after all very tuned into arts because of Kevin. At the moment he thinks they will have to do the courses in the new Valis Sound Studio because its best suited with technological devices to work with.
“I think we’re going to individualize it and we’ll get that benefit out of it for the first go-round,” Kevin said. Though there are other spots in the center with TVs available where the videos can displayed to more people at the same time.
“I hadn’t thought that far to be honest. If there’s an opportunity for multiple youth, we’re operating the youth center under COVID restrictions, everyone’s spaced to begin with, but if there is something of benefit, then there is a chance there,” Kevin said.
There are still a lot of physical activities at the youth center and it’s been an evolving thing to use technology as a means of engaging youth.
“We also have youth who are being creative online. Right now we are adding a few iPads with Pencils (app) so kids can animate,” which ties into the studio. “With this kind of piece (Master Class), if we can use the studio space for that young person if they don’t have access to technology.”
This year being online is the main means of reaching young people and the community for Kevin and youth center staff.
Unfortunately the very nature of the center is to provide services and activities for all kids even though it started years ago as a way of having something for underprivileged kids to do and the latter group don’t always have a machine to do things online. This past summer there was an effort to help kids stay connected with the concept of school.
“We have, over the course of the summer, school based stuff, and that’s been our biggest need, lack of access to technology,” said Kevin.
And even though it’s possible to have some kids in the Front Street center now, occupancy is limited because of pandemic restrictions.
“We’ve done virtual tours of the youth center with the schools, a bunch of kids show and you’re at capacity – go home. That’s a wonderful introduction to a space,” Kevin said.
It occurs to me you might be able to help. If going online means some kids can’t participate as much as they’d like, then someone needs to slap a laptop, iPad or tablet in their hands. Raise your hand if you’ve recently got a new computer. What are you doing with the one you replaced?
Of course if you’re sitting on a Windows 98 vintage machine, or anything older than say 5 years, then there isn’t much point of letting someone else enjoy it.
“You need a webcam and stuff like that,” to be able to take advantage of many of the youth center online activities Kevin said.
Despite the choke point of not enough hardware, Kevin is still enthusiastic about having the Master Class membership available.
“It stinks that its COVID time because you want to celebrate it and yell it out,” but for now he’s got to parcel out time for kids to participate.
Christine was just as excited about being able to make the opportunity available.
“This could be an ongoing thing. If it works, we’ll support it,” she said.
“We do want to be able to show that we’re supporting youth and that this is a collaboration and we are working together to unify the arts community.”
* Even Steven have been busy lately with some new original songs for you to hear. The latest is called On My Street and you can listen to it and the other on their Youtube channel.
* Some sad, happy news on the gallery front. Lee Contemporary Art is closing soon. Gallery owner Tanya Cunnington is taking a position at OMAH as the arts programming coordinator. It is still open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. and have the annual If Only I’d Received Art For Christmas with works by Alex Richardson, Annie Kmyta Cunnington, Bewabon Shilling, Wes Trinier, Heather Price-Jones and Olivia Neal – all under $100. You can also email Tanya at email@example.com to arrange another time to look and buy.
* Other galleries in the Arts District are having their annual art sales geared to gift giving. Tiffin’s Creative Center has their Walls of Smalls (works by Gayle Schofield, Catherine Cadieux, Judy Suggg, Jean Sanders, Pat Beecham, Beverly Pearl and Marlene Bulas) all under $100; Peter Street Fine Arts has their 6×6 Christmas show up; Hibernation Arts always has small pieces mixed in with the bigger stuff.
* Zachary Lucky has one more online show happening Saturday at 5 p.m. Its part of a European streaming festival called Roots in the Jar. You can watch here.
* ODAC wants people to know the Canadian government has expanded funding for performing arts. There will be $181.5 million for live and digital events. For details visit the Canada Arts Council and Heritage Canada (different programs).
* The Orillia Concert Band has a fundraiser happening by way of their Facebook page. They still have insurance, instrument storage fees and other expenses to pay and as you know there have been no concerts to generate money for those things. They have a goal of $5,000 and 100% of your donation goes to the band.
* OMAH has something completely different for you. Holidate is not exactly the same as going to some fancy concert, if you could find one. Pick a day, Dec. 18 or 19 and see some art, make some art, and have a drink and some munchies. Register by calling 705-326-2159 . Also see the 19th annual Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition downstairs and upstairs it’s an historical look at women’s hockey with She Shoots… She Scores. While the museum is open, you need to make an appointment to browse, call 705-326-2159. You can watch videos at home to pass time away, including one about Franklin Carmichael here. And finally, the QuarARTine auction is still happening with new pieces, which you can view and bid on here.
* The 2nd volume of Mariposa Exposed is out. There are 96 short stories, some by familiar writers and some from people who just have a good story to tell. I’ve enjoyed reading it. You can get a copy at Manticore Books.
* The Otter Art Club’s new online art program needs supplies for 150 students. You can donate by e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org and donations of $500 or more come with a 16×16 limited edition print.
* Sharon – of Sharon, Lois and Bram – and her daughter, Randi have Skinnamarink with Sharon & Randi and Friends online Dec. 19 at 3 p.m. Visit their website to get tickets ($15) for the Zoom concert.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Orillia Youth Centre director Kevin Gangloff accepts a certificate from Miranda McKee and Christine Hager honouring a donation from the Orillia and District Arts Council.