New Funding Available for Arts Organizations, Chatham-Kent, ON

March 23, 2010 – Karen Robinet, Chatham This Week,  Chatham-Kent

artsVest Sponsorship Workshop

Partnering the arts with business is the thrust of a new funding program which is bringing $50,000 to Chatham-Kent. ArtsVest was officially launched last Tuesday at the Chatham Cultural Centre, making the municipality one of five that will receive funding this year. Local arts and heritage organizations can apply for seed money through artsVest and if their
proposal is approved, can use that as leverage to seek out matching funds from Chatham-Kent’s business community. Groups must be successful at matching their artsVest funding in
order to receive the grants.

Nichole Anderson, president and CEO of Business for the Arts ( BFTA ) told those on hand for the launch that Chatham-Kent was selected as an ArtsVest community “from a host of municipalities,” because of the strong commitment being shown for the arts from both business and municipal leaders.

“That commitment is very important for us to see,” she said, “It provides a wonderful foundation on which to build partnerships in the private sector.” In addition to making the

funding available, BFTA also offered a day-long workshop last Wednesday aimed at teaching arts and heritage organizations how to approach businesses with a sound partnership plan. “Chatham-Kent has some real possibilities for some incredible cultural development,” she said.

Alida Stevenson of the Ministry of Culture said the artsVest program has had long-lasting impacts on the communities in which it’s already been offered. “The real legacy has been as a significant community building tool,” she said. “It’s building lasting relationships between cultural groups and business and strengthening the cultural vitality and prosperity of communities.” Stevenson said municipal cultural planning is a “huge ministry priority,” which involves building on a community’s unique cultural assets. She added that “cultural vitality retrains and retains creative economy workers.”

Alida Stevenson, Ministry of Tourism & Culture

Mayor Randy Hope said he and the rest of council are beginning to recognize the potential of the new creative economy. “We have to change the way we’re accustomed to doing things,” he said, adding that, “I’ve got my eyes opened quite a bit.” Hope said that, “an investment in the arts will benefit the local economy and the community as a whole.”

Shannon Prince, a volunteer with the Ontario Trillium Foundation said her organization “is seeing some wonderful, innovative projects taking place,” through the artsVest program.
“Arts play a vital role in the life of any community,” said Prince. “In Chatham-Kent we are so fortunate to have so much rich heritage and culture. “So many wonderful things are happening,” she said. “I think this is just the start.”

Coun. Anne Gilbert said she believes the municipality is heading in the right direction in terms of strengthening the cultural sector and said initiatives like the Create CK committee are mobilizing residents at the grassroots level. Gail Antaya, president and CEO of the Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce said her organization has a longstanding commitment to the arts and recognizes the role it can play in economic development.

Janice Wieringa, executive director of the Downtown Chatham BIA agreed and said the past three or four years have seen a significant revitalization in the downtown core. In the past two years alone, she said, over 30 new businesses have opened their doors, “and basically, we can attribute it to culture.” Wieringa said that, “collaboration is key and partnerships is the way to
do things. “In the next few years, we’re going to see Chatham-Kent put on the map,” she said.

Attendees at Chatham-Kent Launch

To view a full gallery of the Chatham-Kent launch, click here.