This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

When it rains it pours, more on that below. The first big news regarding arts and culture sounds bad, it is bad, but it’s not doomsday for the Mariposa Folk Festival.

There are many things which can blindside people or organizations, but you don’t expect it to come from your own government. Last Friday the festival learned a grant they applied for was approved – at less than half the amount they applied for and historically received

Pam Carter

“Of course Mariposa is grateful to have any kind of government funding. We’ve had stable funding for years from Celebrate Ontario, then it turned into Reconnect and then it turned into Experience Ontario,” MFF president and festival chair, Pam Carter, said.

“Last year we had $185,000 from Reconnect, so we were guardedly optimistic that we would get a fairly good grant this year. We just didn’t anticipate it would be less than half of what we’ve received in previous years. I think the challenge is, the Experience Ontario grant is to attract tourists to the province and we got notified last Friday – as did all the other organizations across the province. We’re in August now.”

The festival was informed they would get $72,500 three weeks after the festival happened.

“The thing is, if they told us in April we could have made amendments. We had our contracts in place, we had our hiring done and so we had no room to pivot. Mariposa is stable, we’re solvent, we’re not at risk of falling apart. I guess it was just a bit of a message that, does the province value arts and culture and are they truly trying to attract tourists to the province, and if they were why wouldn’t they announce this funding in early April?” Carter said.

Typically grants for festivals used to be announced in the spring, “Basically it’s later and later all the time,” said Carter.

She thought this year the timing was affected because of the government’s budget approval.

“They’re (Experience Ontario) a transfer payment agency of the government of Ontario so they don’t know what their budget’s going to be until early April,” she said.

The festival has had two sold out years in a row, but the hit from the pandemic still has an effect.

“This industry was really hard hit by the pandemic. I realize there’s lots of other industries, but it’s not just the presenters, it’s the artists, the suppliers, the venues, you name it, and we’re still not recovered. We’re coming back, but the industry still isn’t recovered, so it’s a real setback to arts and culture in general.”

The last annual financial statement given at the festival’s AGM I saw was a few years ago and at that time the reserve was in the ball park of $1 million. It’s not like this will damage the MFF terminally, but it still has an effect.

“We’ve got a rainy day fund. I had coffee with the mayor and he gets it. This is why we have money in the bank because we just took a $100,000 hit.”

“We want to be responsible. We want to pay, we want to honour our contracts and pay our suppliers because they are hurting as well. To say, “oh well, sorry guys, we’re not having a festival next month” We’re solvent, it’s not about Mariposa’s solvency, it’s more about the grant and how it got rolled out,” Carter said.

The MFF is more than just the summer festival. Between now and the next festival there are three concerts scheduled – their annual fall Echoes of Mariposa at ODAS Park, a one-off recreation of Lance Anderson’s 60 in 60 anniversary revue of 60 years of Mariposa festivals which opened the 2022 festival and the annual February Gospel and Blues concert

“We’ll probably do another winter concert,” Carter said. “They are part of the foundation’s overall budget. The winter concert series tends to be a break even initiative.”

This grant applies specifically to the summer festival, but making up the shortfall will eventually have its effect on all Mariposa’s operations.

“The money has got to come from somewhere, so you start tightening your belt across the board,” she said. “To be notified after our event has taken place at a significant shortfall, it really hurts.”

Maybe the province should change their slogan by adding a subtext – Ontario, Open For Business (from 9 to 9:15), or Ontario, Yours to Discover (How Mickey Mouse We Can Be).

The festival also announced last week, Liz Scott, who has been the artistic director for 7 years, is leaving. The strength of the festival has been the lineups (not the kind this year getting into the park, but on stage). There has been a hockey stick curve upward with Scott on board with headline acts (who would have thought Mavis Staples and Judy Collins would get out of their comfy chairs and put on great performances?) mixed with a compendium of ‘who’s that’ acts that end up being gems.

Carter said Scott retired from her professional day-job and believes she won’t quit wholesale her involvement in concerts, she’ll just be scaling back to smaller projects.

“Her artistic programming has allowed the festival to grow into two sellout years. She had a great eye for artistic programming. It’s a full-time job (programming Mariposa), she just moving on to other things. We’re really appreciative of where she’s taken the festival to date and we plan on building on that,” Carter said.

The festival will begin advertising for a new Artistic Director in the fall.

About The Rain

So last Thursday evening it dumped a ton of rain on Orillia for about the 369th time this summer. This time the Orillia Museum of Art And History was a casualty, forcing it to close for two days, and maybe more.

“Each year the City has a capital project for the building and this year’s project was patching the third floor roof, which is the top of the (3rd floor classroom) studio. They have been working there since mid July. There’s been leaks here and there, and I guess with the storm Thursday night more leaks occurred,” said the museum’s executive director, Ninette Gyorody.

Part of the Sir Sam Steele building is an addition to the main building, so the Carmichael Gallery and the main floor exhibition space immediately below it were not affected.

“It soaked through the floor of the third floor down into the second floor. The most important thing is no art or artifacts were damaged.” Gyorody said. “The water just travelled through the building. In the basement they found some in the collection space, so they tarpped everything off there.”

“Right now Service Master is in there trying to mitigate the problem. We just put drop sheets on the jewellery cases (on the second floor).”

The third floor classroom was directly affected and, “We had to close and we had to cancel a couple programs. Next week’s camp we moved to Regan House.”

The museum is closed Mondays and an assessment will be done Tuesday to see the museum can reopen next week.

Fall Concerts

It pains me to be writing about the fall. It’s not a bad time of year, usually, but the foreshadowing winter is on its way is enough to cause mental anguish. The bright spot is there are a number of concerts happening alongside the usual fare from the Orillia Concert Band, The Orillia Silver Band and whatever Mariposa Arts Theatre and the Opera House has in store.

Tickets for many of these additional concerts are selling very well; the Steve Poltz/Danny Michel gig at St. Paul’s Centre is sold out already, so if you are considering, you might want to make a move now.

  • Mariposa’s third outdoor autumn concert features Aysanabee, Aleksi Campagne, Angelique and My Son The Hurricane. It’s October 14 at ODAS Park and you can get tickets online.
Lance Anderson at the 2022 Mariposa Folk Festival
  • Lance Anderson is recreating the 60 in 60 concert he did at last year’s Mariposa Folk Festival on November 18 at the Opera House. It’s been expanded to a 90 minute show and Matt Weidinger, Quisha Wint, Selena Evangeline Mike Daley (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Wayne Deadder (guitar and vocals) Russ Boswell (bass) Bucky Berger (drums) will be performing with Lance. You can get those tickets online.
  • The Orillia Jazz Festival has Lance holding down the Saturday night gig at the Opera House with the World Jazz Asylum. It’s also a CD release party and the band includes John Johnson, Quammie Williams, William Sperendei – along with dancers from Toronto Metropolitan University’s dance department. You can get tickets online. The Friday night gig is with Holly Cole and the Sunday afternoon concert is with Brassworks. Brassworks usually has the jazz bands from the high schools join them.  Find those tickets here.
  • The Orillia Youth Centre has a few fundraising concerts happening. The Sadies, the Ronnie Douglas Blues Band and Jerry Leger will be doing the Roots North annual fall concert Sept. 23. Roger Harvey (with Tim Kehoe playing pedal steel) is returning to Orillia for a gig at St. Paul’s Centre September 29 and in Collingwood Sept. 30. Get those tickets here.
  • St. Paul’s Centre has a slate of concerts happening. Reay is opening for The Lowest of the Low September 21; Tommy Youngsteen will be back in town, this time to do Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album on October 13; Matthew Good is in October 19 and Sloan’s Chris Murphy is in Nov. 16. You can find tickets for all those online (Youngsteen tickets here) Tickets for The Orillia Big Band at St. Paul’s September 30 will go on sale soon.
  •  The Opera House has a bunch of tribute acts in after the summer theater season is over – and Dwayne Gretzky. They also have the Comic Strippers and Second City doing shows in October. You can get tickets for any of that online.

The Shorts

  • The Opera House has Bed and Breakfast running o Aug. 11 (review). This comedy by Mark Crawford is fast paced and very funny. You can get tickets online. Duck Soup Productions has Matilda running every Tuesday, and on the Civic Holiday weekend; it’s for kids and you can get tickets here.
  • Mississaga and Peter Street is closed Friday and Saturday nights. The artists in the Arts District will be out with their stuff on the street on Friday nights.
  • The Orillia and District Arts Council and the City of Orillia are teaming up again to present events in neighbourhood parks this summer. Deb Brown will lead a drum circle at High Street Park Aug. 16; and Jakob Pearce will play music while the kids make art at Lankinwood Park Aug. 30. It’s all free.
  • The Back to the 90s Video Dance Party fundraiser for the Sharing Place Food Bank was a great success. Derick Lehmann told me 640 people bought tickets and they raised $11,205. As is usual with many fundraisers of this nature people buy tickets even though they can’t go. Derick said 500 people were on hand at 7 p.m. and more people kept showing up through the night. He originally hoped to attract 300 ticket buyers.
  • The Orillia Museum of Art and History has a walking tour Wednesdays at 7 p.m. called Gangs, Guns and Grog (more next week) and it ends at Couchiching Craft Brewing for a beer, register online; The submission deadline for the 22nd annual Canadian Landscape Show is Aug. 11. The theme is Tradition Transformed and you can find submission details here; Ted Fullerton’s exhibit The Serpent’s Egg is up until Oct. 7; three other exhibits are up until September – Steeped In History has artifacts for OMAH’s collection which relate to tea and teatime, Homage is jewellery made by Donald Stuart inspired by 40 famous Canadian women, and an exhibit of Elizabeth Wynn Wood’s drawings, sketches and sculptures is in the Carmichael gallery… Hibernation Arts has guest artist Nicole Rulff’s work on display for the month of August… Cloud Gallery has Victoria Pearce in the gallery Aug. 12 from 11 a.m. to  3 p.m. for their Meet the Artist series… St. Paul’s Centre’s Call to Action 83 Art Project in the Ogimaa Miskwaaki Gallery can be seen on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon… There will be a Starry Night event downtown Aug. 26 starting at 7 p.m.
  • Quayle’s Brewery has Genevieve Cyr playing Aug. 10; Matt Payne is in Aug. 11; Ron Whitman does the afternoon Aug. 12 and Stephan Barnard the evening; Patrick Hunter plays Aug. 13; Mitch Szitas is in Aug. 17; Ron Whitman plays Aug. 18… Couchiching Craft Brewing has Grate Northern (Grateful Dead covers) playing Aug. 11; the Boathouse Blues Project is in Aug. 12; Will Davis and Chris Robinson do jazz Aug. 13; they have a Classic Car Trivia night Aug. 16; Ryan Naismith is in Aug. 17; Jamie Drake plays Aug. 18.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: My Son the Hurricane performing at the 2019 Mariposa Folk Festival , returns to Orillia this October.

Rants & Raves

Support Independent Journalism