Artists declare 2017 the year of Cornwall’s arts centre

By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – The city’s most creative minds told local politicians to mark their 2017 calendars for the official opening of Cornwall’s new arts centre.

At the Heart for Art event, Centre for the Arts Collective – an independent movement led by a diverse cross-section of artists in Cornwall and the region – announced its three-year plan for a multi-arts facility in Cornwall.

Carilyne Hebert, communications director for the Collective, delivered the message to a packed banquet hall at the Cornwall Navy Vets’ Club on Friday.

“We have artist groups of all disciplines, but we don’t have a home for them. I think it’s about time we do. After all it’s been in the city’s official plan for 30 years,” said Hebert.

Whether the location of the multi-arts facility – with gallery, theater and studio space – will be in a new building or a retrofit, is still undecided, but the Collective’s need for funding from all three levels government was certain.

Mayor Bob Kilger said he was very impressed with the actions taken by Cornwall’s arts and culture community. He gave the long-term project his full support but made no mention of any specific contributions.

Coun. David Murphy, speaking for MPP Jim McDonell, hinted to the crowd that an announcement for a multi-level funding project may already be in the works.

MP Guy Lauzon said he would make Heritage Minister Shelly Glover fully aware of the citizen’s movement to find Cornwall’s art scene a permanent home.

“I make a promise to you all here that I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that this wonderful dream you have becomes a reality,” said Lauzon. 

Todd Bennett, chair of the Culture Plan Committee for the City of Cornwall, said the Committee has been tasked with implementing the next steps of the Cultural Plan for Cornwall and SD&G released in mid-2011. An arts centre is one of the major priorities.

“A building is coming. I think the support is there from the city,” said Bennett.

Betty Heatley, incoming chair of Cornwall and the counties’ Your Arts Council (YAC), described a very surreal image of what an arts centre fresh with paint and artistic life could bring to the area.

But her, Hebert, and all the artists behind the scenes understand fundraising is going to be a major component of Cornwall’s arts centre.

Cornwall Chamber president, Kevin Hargreaves was enthusiastic about collaborating with the Collective on future fundraising events.

“We hope it will be built by municipal, provincial, and federal funding along with fundraisers such as this one. We will look for opportunities to apply for grants. We believe 2017, our country’s 150th anniversary, might be that perfect occasion,” said Hebert. “We also invite other community organizations to partner with us and run their own fundraisers. This is a community effort and hopefully we can work together to raise as much funds to build a bank account to really show the government that we’re serious about this.” 

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