Program aims to connect arts with business – Stratford & Perth County

March 9, 2010 – Brian Shypula,  The Beacon Herald

A new program which aims to increase business investment in arts and culture in Stratford, Perth County and St. Marys was launched Tuesday.

“It’s really about all those institutions working together, because that’s going to make artsVest the most successful,” said Éilis Karry, national program manager of Business for the Arts. artsVest is a matching incentive granting program intended to stimulate business investment
in arts and culture, bolster municipal cultural plans and help develop the creative economy.
Business for the Arts has placed artsVest programs in 11 Ontario municipalities in the last three years. One hundred and thirty arts organizations have gone through sponsorship training and secured 370 business partners, including 222 which had never sponsored the arts before. So far, $535,000 in matching funds have stimulated $925,000 in business contributions, generating $1.46 million for arts and culture

.

Locally, there is $50,000 available to arts organization based in Stratford, Perth County and
St. Marys. They will apply for funding tha

t they’ll use to land business sponsors. Business for the Arts matches the sponsorships dollar for dollar up to $10,000. A round-table discussion of issues faced by local arts and culture organizations followed the launch. Stratford Coun.
Paul Nickel said the city is fortunate to have a cultural “gem” in the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. However, the Festival sometimes “dwarfs” other arts and culture. “The STA ( Stratford Tourism Alliance ) is starting to do a very good job in showing other aspects of Stratford,” he
said, citing the Savour Stratford culinary festival, which highlights local food, developed two years ago.

Savour Stratford Festival

Carol McLeod of the St.

Marys Storytelling Festival, now in its seventh year, said it makes her sad when local people haven’t heard of the event. Coun. Nickel suggested arts groups should “piggyback” with other events like Savour Stratford to gain gr

eater exposure. Ms. McLeod said the recent creation of Perth Arts Connect should help get more word out about the local arts and culture. “To me that is one area where great leaps are being made,” she said.

Ruth Klahsen, owner of Monforte Dairy Company, which is opening a new cheese factory in Stratford, said she retained artist Glen Elliott to create the company’s sign. “I guess the arts are incredibly important to me and I guess my responsibility there as a business owner is to try to figure out how to finance them,” she said.

Perth East Coun. Bob McTavish said municipal partners co-operated in opening a visitor information centre in Shakespeare last year. This area has a thriving arts and culture sector, he added, citing the number of regional theatres and art galleries. “The better things in life we have here are amazing.”

Another 15 artVest programs will be created in Ontario municipalities over the next four years.

Stratford, Ontario