A first anniversary for the Arts and Cultural Council of Burlington

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 27th, 2018



A request – it was actually more like a plea, from Trevor Copp more than five years ago for changes in the way culture is seen as part of the fabric of the city and the way it was funded, has developed some roots.

ACCOB, – Arts & Culture Council of Burlington, was formed, studies were done on what the public wanted in the way of culture and how that public was interacting with the cultural offerings.

Teresa Seaton, organizer of the Art in Action Tour, thinks through a response at one of the Cultural Action Plan sessions. She is one of 250 people organized as an Arts and Culture Collective in Burlington.

Teresa Seaton, organizer of the Art in Action Tour, thinks through a response at one of the Cultural Action Plan sessions. She is one of 250 people organized as an Arts and Culture Collective in Burlington.

Money was put into surveys and the development of a Cultural Action Plan.

The manager of cultural services was taken out of the Parks and Recreation department and tucked under the wing of one of the General Managers the city had at the time.

The city's cultural planner is all the arts community has at this point. There is some cultural mapping being done - which is useful in itself but won't do all that much to build the tremendous potential culture has in this city. Angela Papariza will use her well developed culture background and training to work with people like Trevor Copp - not likely to see much more in 2014.

Angela Paparizo in conversation with Trevor Copp during the unveiling of the Spiral Stella outside the Performing Arts Centre.

When a new Director of Planning was brought in – Culture got put into her job description.

The Arts were getting attention and a little bit of money and there were some interesting initiatives that had been in place for some time. The Art Studio Tour done each fall continues, they give a scholarship each year.

The AGB offers solid programs for children; the school board has hundreds of students in music classes, the art that we see from the elementary schools shows some promise.

But Burlington as an arts destination – not yet.

Sound of Music draws thousands as does Rib Fest.

The Performing Arts Centre has become a stop along the way for many of the touring shows.

Showtime AGB with people

Everyone wanted their picture taken with the Walt Rickli sculpture – then it was taken out of the Courtyard, put n storage where it appears to remain.

The Art Gallery took possession of a fine piece of sculpture that came out of the Walt Rickli Studio then was quickly put it in storage with a comment that a suitable location had yet to be determined. The funds that brought the Rickli sculpture to the AGB resulted in the Courtyard being named the Dan Lawrie Family Courtyard.

The Lowville Festival was created – they are now in their fourth year. It is an idea that has yet to find is place.
Trevor Copp put together a very successful and popular outdoor Shakespearian Festival at the RGB Rock Garden that has a following but has yet to achieve consistent success.

ACCOB was able to get the city to put real dollars on the table and to convince the city that ACCOB would play a significant role in how some of the public money was used.

There is now a BPAC / ACCOB Community Studio Theatre Initiative – a new funding opportunity for community artists and arts & culture organizations to help offset the costs associated with renting The Centre’s Community Studio Theatre.

Funds for this new initiative are raised through the Burlington Performing Arts Centre’s Annual Festival of Trees, the first of which took place in November and December 2017. Funds raised will be used to cover the base rent of the BPAC Community Studio Theatre for 4 days in 2018.

Burlington has a number of artists who work quietly and as effectively as they can on their own – looking for opportunities to promote themselves and from time to time sell a piece of their work.

The city does have groups that found their footing and have gone on to fame: The Spoons and Walk off the Earth are two examples. There are others.

Somewhere out there the leadership that is needed to galvanize a community, influence both a city administration and those elected to office that the arts are more than a nice to have, has yet to surface. A vibrant arts community is an economic force – the arts draw traffic.

Right now the city has a collection of silos – each with their own plan and agenda

The Tourism people have not yet found an effective way to promote the arts effectively.


Rendering of the Transformed Joseph Brant Museum site.

What impact the transformation of the Joseph Brant Museum is going to have is an unknown at this point in time. The museum board has said little – not even a “great things are to come” statement. The confidence needed to believe that great things are possible is not part of the way the city sees itself at this point in time. It will need direction that the Museums of Burlington have yet to experience. Could the transformed museum be the catalyst that is needed?

Only time will tell us that.

For the time being – celebrate that ACCOB can celebrate a first anniversary.

Salt with Pepper is the opinion, musing and reflections of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette.

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