The Lantern Walk, Placemaking at it’s Best.
I have read, several times, the CEI report and summary. I liked many of the things that CEI did in the past such as workshops on proposal writing, supporting various organizations like Kwartz Lab and the Jazz Room. Providing office space for organizations like Open Ears. However, I do not agree with the present direction.
I do not believe that the website can be saved nor should it be saved. I am retired from my internet business and a former librarian. In my experience, if you can’t get a good website in 8 years, it’s not going to happen in another year. The world and technology have changed since CEI started. We have Evite, Eventastic, Facebook, the Record, Twitter, Snapd and various bloggers who perform the functions CEI wants to develop. I did a google search for music and art in the Region, which I’m sure new comers can do, and I found a whole list of events, museums, artists, and musicians all easily brought together by a search engine. I found Eventful.com, the Kijiji of events including in the Region and it can be personalized. Not to mention the apps. Will the new website have an app version?
The idea of digital media as explained in CEI’s presentation and summary also doesn’t work for me. Yes digital media is hot right now. But Arts and culture is so much more than digital. We aren’t Toronto or Chicago or Paris, France. Let’s not imitate other places but celebrate and develop our own unique Region.
CEI has also talked about a lack of placemaking in our region. Once again like the pictures of other places instead of Waterloo Region in their report, CEI doesn’t seem to know about the placemaking I see.
People come by the busload to our version of Dundas Square, the markets of St Jacobs, Kitchenr and Cambridge. Want to hear music, see arts and crafts, have a great meal, buy jewellery, attend the theatre, head to the St Jacobs Market. If you want to find someone, you will meet them at the market.
Juanita Metzger just did a great blog on the placemaking of Little Libraries in our Region. I just went on The Lantern Walk with my family, part of which is making art (lanterns) before you go. It was over 100 people, families, having a wonderful placemaking time. Facebook and Word of Mouth was the advertising. If anything, the building of the Spur Line trail was the placemaking infusion. We started at the Ambrosia Pastry Shop that was unfortunately closed as they were preparing for the Stitch and Kitsch arts market the next day in Waterloo.
I know Roger Farwell, Debbie Currie and their staff have worked very hard to save CEI. We have gotten letters of support from prominent members of the community. That is why I voted for CEI in committee despite my misgivings. Since then I have had other people talk to me about CEI, not just the “no money for anything” people or angry artists, though their opinions are important, but also prominent people I respect on the other side of this issue. I also did some research on what is out there to encourage people to find out about events, arts and culture in our Region. I have mentioned the results.
CEI has done some good things over the last few years. This time, their mandate has changed and I do not believe it is one that will attract workers and businesses to the Region and keep them here. Not to mention I wonder why the mandate of an organization that was supposed to grow art and culture is only concerned about what looks to me like economic development. If at the end of the year, the money is going to Economic Development, then why not have it go there now? Or it could go to the Regional Arts Fund which gets way more requests than it has money for, or the public art fund, the public library ,one of the two important organizations mentioned in the Community Foundation report on Belonging, or even to relieve our budget percentage.
We have as usual, a tough budget before us. Other worthy organizations have had their money stopped in other budget years and I voted to end their money for various reasons. It is not enough to put subject to budget approval as we all know if this passes here, it will remain in the budget.
None of us want to see an initiative fail but the world and the technology have moved past the proposed mandate of CEI. Our entrepreneurs tell us; you will fail before you find new successes. That doesn’t mean that you don’t cut your losses.
I voted against continuing to fund CEI. The vote was 14 for funding and 2 against, mayor Sue Foxton and myself. The artists had some very good ideas for the future including creating a start up environment like tech has.
Grandsocial.ca (it has improved since I last saw it about a month ago. Let’s hope it keeps going)
Regional Report and CEI report to council Page 53. Recommended: Scroll down and find the pay of the CEI staff.