I have written before about the importance of art in Rose City as well as other blogs make mention of the important role artists can contribute to communities. Artists owe a social responsibility to their communities, as artists nor only reflect their environment, but can also contribute to it.
In the past year, I’ve had some experiences as an artistic individual to expand my horizons, both creatively and in this community of Welland. The artist group that I’ve been a part of for this last year, BLX, been described as ” an anarchic renaissance for the post-industrial towns which dot our region. The primary credo of this loose but affable coalition of artists aims to reclaim the soul of a town considered by many to be long dead.” This is very flattering and humbling at the same time. I’m sure I can speak on not only my behalf, but on the behalf of all our artists when I sincerely express my gratitude.
As artists, we have strived to not only make a name for ourselves, marketing our work, and creating our own self-employment opportunities, but we have also tried to give back to this community as well. We realize that not all who support what we are doing can always afford to support our work financially (read as: buy our art), but instead support our work by sharing our events, posts, and art through various social media, online, through local media, and by word of mouth. This great and supportive community has helped us get to the point we are at now.
I feel that we are truly on the verge of creating “one of the most fascinating local contemporary art scenes in the country.” It is not going unnoticed. Slowly but surely, the word has spread beyond the borders of Rose City and Niagara: word is coming back of whispers of an interesting art scene here from Hamilton, Toronto, and other parts if southern Ontario. They are curious. They are wanting to see it for themselves. They will be coming.
Many in this community hope to see an influx of “tourist dollars” as they see the potential Niagara has for attracting outside business. I wholeheartedly agree. We have shifted the focus of our own local economy from a manufacturing-based to service-based. This, as well as the beautiful natural surroundings of Welland and Niagara, is what many hope to capitalize on, such as the major push in the last few years for sports tourism. I feel we have much more to offer that can be capitalized on. I, for one, am willing to act on that belief. I share this feeling with many others, and this belief is supported by this community in their participation and enthusiasm for many of our events and art initiatives (such as the Easter Art Hunt and the Art Canoe Project).
Almost a year after seven artists hosted an independant art show, we’ve had one helluva year: Seven art shows, a presentation during Culture Days, the Easter Art Hunt, contributing to the Welland Zombie Walk and the Guerilla Garden Park, as well as involvement in various other art and community events and intitatives. After becoming a slowly established group of artists with networks in the community of Welland, and receiving such attention and support, in such a relatively short time, I am personally thankful to everyone who’s been involved in and stood alongside us during this last year.
You’ve seen me post on my social media about the request for donations of art supplies as an art initiative involving children of our community. This is part of a larger initiative that is being undertaken soon in downtown Welland. Details will be released soon. The hopes of this initiative is to not only increase awareness of arts in the community, but to promote the talents of local artists, both enabling opportunities for individual artists, as well as giving back to the community also. This is also being initiated as a socioeconomic experiment in place making, that is made possible by the generous effort and donation of resources by interested members of our community.
Once again, I’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to the community of Rose City. This past year would not be as successful without all of you behind us. We are proud to be in this community, as well as a part of it.