Arts Council is formally launched - now the real work begins.

artsblue 100x100By Pepper Parr

April 19th, 2017



Will the evening be remembered as one of the historical moment in the cultural life of the city of Burlington – or will it be just another non-profit organization that seemed like a good idea at the time?

Only time will tell but the Arts and Cultural Council of Burlington (ACCOB) was launched in the lobby of the Performing Arts Centre on April 18th, 2017.

ACCOB board

The formative Board of the Arts and Cultural Council of Burlington, ACCOB: Left to right: Kim Verrall, Teresa Seaton, Robert Mayor, Rob Missen, Ancilla Ho Young, Donna Grandin, and Tim Park at the microphone.

There was a city council meeting that evening and just about every member of Council was in the lobby of the PAC up to watch the momentous occasion. There were enough of them in the lobby to form a quorum – they could have gathered in a corner and conducted the city’s business on the spot.

There weren’t just members of city council in the room. A local youth choir sang and a lovely young girl from an Orchard community school played her violin flawlessly – giving the audience a rendition of a Vivaldi Concerto. Yoanna Jang was a delight to listen to.

ACCOB - Ancilla

ACCOB vice chair, Ancilla Ho Young

Getting an Arts Council set up is an organizational matter. They now have to determine what their mandate is and how they want to execute on that mandate.

This all started back in 2013 when Trevor Copp stood before city council and said he wanted to be able to work in his home town and not have to toodle along the QEW to earn a living.

The irony of the evening was that Copp could not be on hand – he was out of town doing a show.

There were a number of arts community stalwarts – Teresa Seaton, Tim Park, Rob Missen

Mayor Goldring and former Mayor Walter Mulkewich were on hand – Goldring might have been thinking through how much ACCOB was going to want in the way of funding.

The important point is that the organization has moved beyond an idea – now it is up to them to lobby the city; seek funding and advocate for the Arts.

Will they mount programs of their own?

Will they find people within the city that will support the arts in general?

Will they hold the well-funded Performing Arts Centre the Art Gallery of Burlington and the Museums to account?

Burlington doesn’t have an arts or cultural profile even though the city has produced and been home to some very significant talent. The late Gordy Tapp lived here; the Spoons came out of this city, Walk Off the Earth has roots in the city. Robert Bateman worked from Burlington for some time.

Trevor Copp, the Burlington actor who mobilized trhe arts into a Collective makes a point on leadership while Executive Director of the Burlington Museum's operation listens.

Trevor Copp, the Burlington actor who mobilized the arts into a Collective makes a point on leadership while Executive Director of the Burlington Museum’s operation listens.

There are countless others. What Burlington has not been able to do – yet – is pull the history and the story of Burlington into focus and draw people to the city.

Burlington has relied on the Sound of Music and Ribfest to draw the multitudes – both are looking a little warn and have not managed to achieve a refresh and create a new life for themselves.

In the past Burlington has been a place where things happened. There is a spot along the waterfront, in Spencer Smith Park that is referred to as “pebble beach”. It is a collection of large stones – but, as Councillor Jack Dennison will tell you – if you look closely you might see some of the old pilings that once held up the Brant Inn – which in its day was a jumping spot – the place to be.

Many of the black musicians would take the train to Burlington and play in a place where they could eat, sleep and work in the same building and not be treated as second class citizens.

The city has not managed to build on that illustrious and colourful past.

ACCOB has its work cut out for it – the good news is that there are some very good people on that board – they could make it happen.

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1 comment to Arts Council is formally launched – now the real work begins.

  • tenni

    What future plans did ACCOB announce that night?

    There was a previous mention by the Gazette that ACCOB was interested the concerns of the multi cultural artists and organizations. What does that mean? Everyone, including artists have their own personal cultural background and are part of our multi cultural society. Do they mean to highlight some groups over others:… people of colour? support for the deaf and people with disabilities? Indigenous peoples? GLBTQ, etc.

    What about professional artists needs? Did they pay the musicians a fee or expect donated services?

    Good people are not necessarily knowledgable with high skills to get funding from a variety of sources (donors, OAC, Trillium etc.)

    Good luck,