UPDATE: Artists seeking permanent home

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Todd Bennett is chair of the city's cultural committee.

A cultural committee that reports to city hall is looking to help local artists find a permanent place to call home in Cornwall.

The cultural planning committee was created a year ago and has met monthly to discuss how to best augment access to artists and their creations through culture improvements in the city.

It is essentially a liaison group that helps connect agencies like the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Arts Council with city hall.

Arguably the biggest challenge the committee has is helping the newly-created arts council find a home base from which artists can operate, which could also serve as a platform that allows local artists to meet, share ideas, and perform.

Todd Bennett, chair of the committee, told city council this week the ultimate mandate for the committee is to find such a facility.

"This is a long-term goal and the end of goal as far as I’m concerned," he said.

But artists still have to make some fairly weighty decisions about what they want. Bennett admitted the specifics of what kind of facility artists require hasn't been discussed in detail.

"But if somebody had some space for us, we could mobilize pretty quickly,” he told city councillors.

The other issue is money. Very little, if any, has been collected thus far to help offset the costs of a permanent home for artists and artisans to congregate in Cornwall.

But Coun. Elaine MacDonald, who is also on the culture committee, suggested now is the time to create an annual arts gala - much like the local chamber of commerce business awards.

The awards gala could serve as a fundraiser, with money being held in trust by the city that could some day be used to help create a home for the arts in the city.

Coun. Denis Carr has suggested that in a time when school boards and other agencies are streamlining themselves away from large facilities, it may be possible to gain access to some space before it is torn down.

Carr added city officials are learning of such opportunities regularly.

There seems to be tacit support around the council table to help the committee find a facility - though there has been very little talk of any financial commitment from city hall.

"One of the things I see is a lot of artists that don’t have a home," said Coun. Denis Thibault. "I would hope the idea of having a central point at some point in time….is one of the things that comes forward."

Bennett said the focus in 2013 is to outline just what an arts facility in Cornwall will require.

"It's got to have a lot of everything in it," he said, suggesting a performance hall, a lobby where artists can show their works, and practice facilities are just some of the amenities that have been bounced around thus far. "To do it right, you just can't throw it together for tomorrow."

Geographic location: Cornwall, Pitt Street

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  • Rose Desnoyers
    November 28, 2012 - 12:55

    Thank you for the report on the Council's reaction...Please note that Denis Thibault also referred to Le Centre culturel de Cornwall (le Corrid'ART) as a space looking for a home . The Centre will be looking for a space as of June since Ste-Croix is closing its doors. The gallery Corrid'ART which entertains art exhibitions for local artists on a monthly basis for the last three years has been a space where over 30 artists have shown their art work and high schools as well as other youth groups have been allotted space to exhibit art work. Hope this helps in getting the word out about the art scene in the area....