This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Arts Orillia announced  their 2023/24 season of events this week. This is the first time they are taking the approach to their programming of having a defined season of events.

The Orillia Jazz Festival became a part of Arts Orillia last year and guess what? It’s on the horizon. There are three concert events happening at the Opera House starting with the festival opener, Holly Cole, October 13.

Lance Anderson and World Jazz Asylum, featuring musicians William Sperandei, Quammie Williams, Simon Wallis and an ensemble of jazz dancers performs October 14. The next afternoon Brassworks leads a program which includes ensembles from the schools. You can find tickets to those online. If you have friends coming from out of town you can get a 15% discount at the Champlain Hotel with tickets as proof of eligibility.

As usual there will be groups playing at other venues. Friday October 14 The Phoenix Jazz Quintet is at Lake Country Grill; the Chris Taggart Trio plays Lot 88; guitarist James Brown is at the Lone Wolf Café; Mitch Beube is at the Common Stove. The next afternoon Will Davis and Chris Robinson are at Couchiching Craft Brewing and James Brown moves to Picnic.

Arts Orillia also has an open rehearsal and artist talk with Rachana Joshi about Bharatanatyam Classical Indian dance at the Opera House November 14. A dance/storytelling/historic recordings program about the history of racial oppression called Black In Canada is happening February 20 at the Opera House; tickets.

Compagnie de la Citadelle returns to Orillia with a performance of Julie et l’univers at the Opera House; tickets. The story emerges from a painting by Jean-Paul Lemieux of the same name and features music by Schubert played by pianist Jeanie Chung. Orillia Concert Association season ticket holders can get tickets to this for half price.

All day April 22 there is an Earth Day Art Symposium at Creative Nomad. Once again the theatre and Cross Creativity program will involve youth for a two week program beginning May 6 at the Opera House, with performances May 17 and 18. Find out more here.

Last on the menu is the annual Gathering: Festival of First Nation Stories May 30 to June 2.

Show Me The Money

The Orillia and District Arts Council has good news this week. The received a grant of $28,000 from the fed’s Community Services Recovery Fund.  The $400 million fund is to help community service groups post-COVID.

Many groups suffered greatly from the pandemic, often revealing organizational weaknesses which otherwise weren’t apparent during normal times. It presented opportunities for groups to evaluate what it is they do and how they could do it in better or more efficient ways.

Donor funding is one of those areas groups faced. Many traditional donors had to back away while dealing with their own costly losses and staying alive tactics, so new approaches to raising funds for activities and events have to be created.

ODAC has been re-inventing itself with new leadership and more members, and the grant will help them with the costs of producing a new strategic plan and a revenue plan.

Another key area they want to solve is increasing programs ODAC offers and the pay for artists involved. They intend to having meetings with artists businesses and other interested parties to come up with a viable plan.

One of the things that has been asked for by artists over the years is some kind of insurance plan they can opt into as needed. Recently ODAC has been able to get liability insurance artists can become part of. This is a big one. The City of Orillia, for example, demands anyone holding events have liability insurance for several millions of dollars. On a case by case basis that often is the reason why many good ideas don’t go any further because it’s expensive to buy stand alone, one group, one event insurance coverage. A group policy makes it more affordable.

Extended healthcare coverage like many have through their employers is also available. ODAC is a member of the Arts and Entertainment Plan, a nation-wide plan with several dozen of the country’s prominent arts organizations as members. Many artists who work at their craft full-time don’t have that kind of insurance.

There are a number of things a group can do, but a critical mass of members is necessary to achieving some of the goals. A boost in membership provided by ODAC absorbing the Orillia Fine Arts Association helps, but there are many other groups in town (as well as individuals) which I think should be part of ODAC. Advocacy with government (all three flavours) is the most obvious. Having a conduit for information about grants member groups or individuals could be informed of, along with help for writing grant applications (which ODAC used to do many years ago) is another area that just gets better with more members.

Up to 2010 ODAC was pretty relevant (and could have been more relevant), but suffered greatly with the demise of the City’s culture department.  It’s not like they went away, but it’s only in the last few years steps have been taken to make the group more viable. They’ve got plans now and I think people in the arts, or members of performing or arts groups should consider becoming members of ODAC and contribute to ODAC becoming something that benefits you.

ODAC’s Culture Days starts this weekend with the Orillia Vocal Ensemble rehearsing/performing at the Farmer’s Market at 11 a.m. The point is to enjoy and join in. Sept. 30 young people can get the recording studio experience at Simcoe Mechanical Recording Studio from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. OCT. 5 Babarinde Williams lead a drumming workshop at Georgian College in the afternoon for students, and from 6 to 7 p.m. a session is open to the public; you need to register online to attend. Oct. 12 The Flailing Shilaleighs will be playing at Couchiching Craft Brewing.

OMAH’s New Exhibits

The Orillia Museum of Art and History’s gigantic reception for three new exhibits September 23 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Two Untitled pieces by Jennifer Zardo

The three shows are: 50 Years Of Mariposa Arts Theatre, A Close up on Carmichael (showcasing OMAH’s collection of related items) and Jennifer Zardo’s Home Sweet Home.

OMAH also has and artist talk with Jennifer Zardo and Ted Fullerton Thursday, October 28 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The Speaker’s Night is with Chris Newton Sept. 20. He’s going to talk about the history of MAT. It happens online, so register, online, to get details how to take part.

Also on exhibit at OMAH is The Orillia Police And The Sir Sam Steele Memorial Building, which is set up in the basement jail cells. The Carmichael exhibit is in advance of the annual Canadian Landscape juried art show. This one attracts entries from across Canada. The theme this year is Tradition Transformed.

Ted Fullerton’s exhibit The Serpent’s Egg up until Oct. 7.

In other arty things, Cloud Gallery has their fall series of exhibits returning; starting October 21. Each show will run two weeks with opening night receptions (6 to 9 p.m.). First are Lori Meeboer and Jennifer Woodburn; next is Julie Veenstra (November 4); Patricia Clemmens has her work up November 25 (all artists in attendance) and December 9 it’s a group show with many of the artists represented by the gallery in attendance; I spoke with Mark Fletcher this week, he’s shipped many pieces to buyers all over the continent, but he was excited for the first time he had to ship three paintings off=shore to France this week… St. Paul’s Centre has the Call to Action 83 Art Project in the Ogimaa Miskwaaki Gallery.

Starting Fall Right

Couchiching Craft Brewing has their 2nd annual Rocktoberfest during the next two weeks. Fun fact, after all these years I discovered Oktoberfest, the German festival to celebrate the marriage of King Ludwig I and Princess Therese in 1810 actually happens in September, ending on the first Sunday of October.

It seems to me, this dummy, who is three parts German (one part Scotch – I know, Scottish, but Scotch goes down more smoothly) should have had that pointed out by anyone in the family decades ago. Beyond Germany everyone else, like me, took it literally and planned their celebrations for October – even in Kitchener!

At Couchiching the notion materializes with two weeks of music – and beer. Except it all starts with their Beer and Board Games night Sept. 27; Sept. 29 Jeff Young is in to play; Rick Robichaud and his band are in Sept. 30; Oct. 4 would be my night – there are people who will not play Trivial Pursuit with me and I suspect people would soon find out they have no chance with Couch’s German Spelling Bee Oct. 4; The Offcuts are in Oct. 6; Cam Galloway Oct. 7 and Chris Lemay Oct. 8

Saturday night, Sept. 23 James Gray entertains. A highlight following Rocktoberfest is a Halloween Drag Show event Oct. 14, in partnership with Three Birds Salon. That needs tickets to attend.

The Shorts

  • The annual Images Thanksgiving Studio Tour is happening sooner than you think. Can you believe it? It’s the 40thannual tour. You can find a map and artist details online.

  • The Orillia Concert Association series remains one of the best deals just about anywhere. Season passes for all 5 concerts are still only $90. They are available online. The Stratton Soloists ensemble opens the series Oct. 29, pianist Daniel Vnukowski performs Nov. 26, the Chris Robinson / Will Davis Quartet plays Jan. 28, James Campbell and Angela Park perform March 24, and  Ensemble Vivant closes the series May 5.

  • This summer’s Coulson Concerts series held in the old Coulson Church continues Sept. 24 with Paul Mills and Anne Walker (whose family owns the church) playing. You can get tickets online.
  •  Much Music’s Bill Welychka, originally from Barrie, wrote a book. A Happy Has-Been: ​Exciting Times and Lessons Learned by One of Canada’s Foremost Entertainment Journalists is a memoir of his tenure at Much Music. He’ll be signing copies Sept. 30 from noon to 4 p.m. at Indigo in Barrie.
  • Mariposa’s third annual outdoor autumn concert features Aysanabee, Aleksi Campagne, Angelique and My Son The Hurricane. It’s Oct. 14 at ODAS Park and you can get tickets online. Lance Anderson is recreating the 60 in 60 concert he did at last year’s Mariposa Folk Festival on Nov. 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 Opera House has several tribute acts playing during the next few weeks. There are also concerts by Dwayne Gretzky and Rick Fines happening, and the Comic Strippers and Second City are doing shows in October. You can get tickets for any of that online. Hey, pay attention, Irish Mythen is coming Mach 23; I guarantee tickets will be sold out by Christmas, so act now.

  • The Orillia Youth Centre has a fundraising concert with Roger Harvey -with Tim Kehoe playing pedal steel – (and Terry Savage and the Big Bad Jug Band opening) at St. Paul’s Centre Sept. 29 and in Collingwood Sept. 30. Get those tickets here. You can also get tickets at Dapper Depot.

  • St. Paul’s Centre has a slate of concerts happening. Tommy Youngsteen will be back in town, this time to do Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album Oct. 13; Matthew Good is in Oct. 19 and Sloan’s Chris Murphy is in Nov. 16; the Skydiggers will be in Dec. 14 for a Christmas concert. You can find tickets for all those online (Youngsteen tickets here) Tickets for The Orillia Big Band at St. Paul’s Sept. 30 are on sale at the St. Paul’s office.

  • Tangents is organizing a Halloween concert/fundraiser for the Comfie Cat Shelter at St. Paul’s Centre. Joining them are Dead Beyond Fear and Get ‘N Dirty. Its Oct. 28 at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for this all-ages event and you can get them online. The music is metal and there will be vendors and grub. Wear your costume.
  • The Orillia Silver Band has a concert Oct. 22 at the Opera House. Their guest pianist is Kyung-A Lee, who will be playing Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Libertango by Astor Piazzolla. The band has music by Bach, Chopin, Gershwin and Verdi lined up. Tickets are available online.
  •  Quayle’s Brewery has Greg Booth and Jerry Levine in Sept. 16; Sept. 17 it’s Patrick Hunter (afternoon) and Gen Cyr (evening); Jakob Pearce is in Sept. 21; Burke Erwin is in Sept. 22; Kyle Wauchope plays Sept. 23 and Bob Watts is in Sept. 24 …

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Performers from the Arts Orillia program, Black In Canada.

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