This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Last Thursday the Orillia and District Arts Council had a strategy session at Creative Nomad Studios attended by 30 people. Most of the major food groups were involved. My sense was the underlying question was, – if you were to invent ODAC today, what would it be?

In 2023 the membership increased substantially, but it certainly isn’t where it could be, so one of the areas addressed was twofold; how to get more members, what should ODAC offer to make being a member worthwhile.

There was good discussion about not just getting young people to join, but how ODAC could do more to help the other various groups in town engage young people. This is an interesting area. We have a university and a college. When Lakehead opened I said Thursday nights were going to be a bonanza for venues, but that really hasn’t occurred. Part of that is no one is sticking their neck out to start something, there’s very little in live music happening on Thursdays, and the other part is public transportation isn’t available later in the evening.

I go to concerts and I see the group between 20 and 20/35 is absent from the demographics of most audiences, as are teenagers. Music is universal, good music played well should be attracting a better mix of ages; we’ve got the first part happening. Is that a question of marketing, marketing to students, or something else? Can ODAC play a role?

The age old question of an events calendar came up a few times. This time however, instead of with a view to letting audiences know what’s on, the sentiment was more about not getting in each other’s way by scheduling competing events on the same dates. The majors had a co-operating calendar, which for the most part has worked well, but last fall there were two big events happening at the same time, which does nothing but divide the audience for each. No one really wants to see that happen again.

Money is always an issue and there were several ideas on that count. One of which was giving groups and individuals some support for grant application writing in order to get funding from elsewhere into the community . ODAC did do this many years ago, and still does to a degree, but not many people know this is available.

The other big topic was what is ODAC? That’s not an easy question even members and board members can answer succinctly. So the order of the day was develop a clear statement of what ODAC is. The original intent was to be a support group and also serve as a central casting agency of sorts and not to compete with the other arts groups. I think generally most people involved would say it is something like that, but there is still uncertainty among members and a lot of uncertainty from those not involved.

The big fallacy outsiders have is ODAC is a visual arts club. It isn’t and never has been. Though the initial spark was from visual artists to organize, it very quickly evolved to include all arts.

The issue here, which was mentioned a few times, was branding. I think people confuse what branding is. ODAC is the brand, which I don’t think should change. What it needs is a tagline. Something like ODAC: Serving Whatever Your Art Is. Even though ODAC and arts councils in general do have a general public face and purpose, the main function as I know it is internal; service to and serving the artists with their challenges and issues with guidance and help to make their ventures strong.

A report is being drafted and there will be another strategy session in April to fine tune it before it is presented to Orillia council

Our People vs. The World

Bleeker has a new single out. Make It Better will join Walken on their new album due this spring and if the rest of the tunes measure up to these two, it’s going to be a hell of an album.

January 28 they are in Red Deer to open for The Trews, and have 4 more dates ending in Winnipeg during the next week. They will also open in Oshawa February 28

Cassie Dasilva

Cassie Dasilva has a new single out. The song is called Part of the Club and you can see the video on Youtube. It’s shot to resemble a continuous shot (there are few edits) which required  exacting choreography with characters and dancers she interacts with (look closely, you’ll see Bleeker’s Cole Perkins at the end). She also made most of the props used in the video.

She has racked up 4.5 million streams Across all the platforms her music is on. Her last single, Unsolicited Contact, got 1 million views on TikTok. She also got a third place prize in the Canada’s Walk of Fame/BC Emerging Artist Program, which comes with a cheque for $5,000 and a bunch of other stuff. You can check out her other videos here.

Quincy Bullen was part of last year’s February Blues concert and he’s part of the house band for this year’s Maple Blues Awards night February 12 at the Phoenix Theatre in Toronto. Quincy is the son of Fayne Bullen’s second cousin.

Zachary Lucky made it over the border to start an American tour which will see him perform in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Colorado, Utah, Washington – one date in BC – New York, Maine, Massachusetts, and Delaware –  all before April 19. He squeezed in a show with Miles Zuraweel (his touring partner) February 2 at Picnic. This week he celebrated his song Ramblin Man’s Lament  hitting 200,000 streams on Spotify.

Some of you likely went to school with Christopher Simmons. He’s been working as a jazz pianist for many years in Toronto, with a stint in New York City. He’s also recorded a bunch of albums, solo, combo and band, which you can listen to here.

Kate Hilliard had her live art project, Story Creatures (which debuted at Creative Nomad Studios) chosen as one of 4 entries from Canada to the Venice International Art Fair. It’s a digital representation of the performance at Creative Nomad; some shots include the audience, above is proof I was there. You can see the exhibit online.

The Shorts

  • The Scottish Festival has a fundraiser event at 1 p.m. Jan. 28 at the legion. They call it Trivia Decades. It’s $10 to enter, which you can do online, and there are prizes.
  • There is still a performance of The Music Man Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon at St. Paul’s Centre. You can get tickets online, or at the Door. Go here to read more about the play.
  • The Opera House as a few great events… get tickets for the Jan. 28 Orillia Concert Association’s event with ringleaders Will Davis (piano) and Chris Robinson (saxes) and Dave Field (bass) and Omar Gittens (drums) doing some jazz at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at 2:30  p.m. … it’s the same story for tickets to the Leacock Museum’s A Leacock Love Story – Valentine”s Tour Feb. 3 and 17; the short strokes on the story is some lost letters from Beatrix to Stevie surfaced recently and you get to hear what she said. Mariposa Arts Theatre has The Play That Goes Wrong starting a two week Run Feb. 8.
Lance Anderson
  • You can still get tickets, only 75 left – all in the balcony (which is fine for sound) – for the Mariposa Folk Festival’s Gospel and Blues concert with Lance Anderson, multiple Maple Blues Award winner Kenny Blues Boss Wayne, Prakash John (Alice Copper, Parliament and Funkadelic), Jordan John (Johnny Reid, Colin James, Jeff Healey, Burton Cummings) and Michael Shand (Molly Johnson, Matt Dusk). It’s at the Opera House Feb. 3.
  • The Roots North music Festival now has 50% of their main stage (St. Paul’s Centre) lineup in place with the addition of Julian Taylor to the list which includes Begonia and the Red Hill Valleys. You can get tickets online for the April festival.
  • The Leacock Medal for Humour’s annual student humourous writing competition submission period is on now and closes April 15.  Ontario students are eligible to enter and the top prize is $1,500, with two $750 runners up prizes. You can find out details online. Winners get to read their stories at the annual Meet The Authors night June 21.
  • The Mariposa Folk Festival isn’t until July, but the annual audition concert is in April and it’s now time for musicians to get their applications in. Find out more how to submit material online. They also have tickets on sale now for their next off-season concert March 9  with Boreal (Katherine Wheatley, Tannis Slimmon, Angie Nussey) at St. Paul’s Centre.
  • The Orillia Museum of Art and History Has three exhibits to see, Grant’s Legacy: Capturing Orillia’s History on Film, Sybil: Connections, Fibre Artists and Seeing Beyond – a solo exhibit by Robyn Rennie; they’ll always show you the jail, or at least the permanent exhibit in the jail, The Orillia Police And The Sir Sam Steele Memorial Building; the monthly History Speaker’s night is Feb. 21 with Graeme Davis – Simcoe County’s forester – talking about the history of Simcoe County’s forests ( I did a show with Graeme and Bob Bowles once upon a time on this subject and it’s fascinating); it’s on Zoom and you can register online… St. Paul’s Centre has the Call to Action 83 Art Project in the Ogimaa Miskwaaki Gallery… Hibernation Arts has many new pieces hanging around since the New Year you should see, January’s guest artist is Renee van der Putten.

  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has Jaclyn Kenyon playing Jan. 27; the Boathouse Blues Project Feb. 2; Jojo Garrisi Feb. 3; The Station Feb. 4; Julien Kelland Feb. 7 The St… Quayle’s Brewery has Sam Johnston in to play Jan. 27; Cassie Dasilva plays Feb. 2 and My Missing Piece Feb 3… The Offcuts, with special guest Bernadette Connors, play a fundraiser for the Orillia Youth Centre Feb. 3 at Creative Nomad Studios; get tickets online.

(Images Supplied) Main: From Cassie Dasilva’s new video, Part of the Club.

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