A group of local artists are coming together to create an Arts Hub in North Grenville in an effort to centralize and support the arts community in the municipality. Jayne Couch has wanted to set up somewhere central to celebrate the arts in North Grenville ever since she moved to the municipality in 2012. Originally, her goal was to have a satellite location for the Ottawa School of Art (OSA) at the Kemptville College, but that, unfortunately, failed for political and administrative reasons.
Through Jayne’s efforts to have an OSA campus in North Grenville, she caught the interest of several other people in the arts community. “After having that disappear, I still had my little thing percolating in my head,” she said. “Suddenly, I had half a dozen people saying we needed to do something at the campus to bring people together.”
Jayne says the problem with the arts community in North Grenville is that it is very fragmented. There is the Kemptville Youth Musical Theatre Company, the Kemptville Players, the North Grenville Concert Choir, and the North Grenville Artists Guild, just to name a few; but none of them communicate or share resources, in Jayne’s opinion.
The idea behind the Arts Hub North Grenville is to have a space where everyone, from large groups to individual artists, can have a space to come, create and share their art. It is also meant to draw visitors who will be able to wander through the space, checking out artist displays, see musicians practicing, and pick up theatre tickets. “Our mandate is to be a community place to be proud of,” Jayne says.
She believes strongly that, if North Grenville doesn’t do something to bring the arts community together, it will fade into the background. “We don’t have a cultural identity,” Jayne says about North Grenville. “If we don’t get on it soon, it’s going to slip away.”
The group that Jayne has formed to create the Arts Hub is now searching for funds from the municipality to secure a space at the Kemptville College to get their vision off the ground. They are looking for a community grant of $5,000 to help secure a space at the College that will be available for artists of all disciplines to use to develop talent, incubate creative enterprises and share knowledge. “We strive to increase visibility of North Grenville arts and grow the region’s creative economy,” their mandate says.
Eventually, Jayne hopes that the Arts Hub will become a non-profit, self-sustaining entity, with various groups and individuals paying membership fees to cover the Hub’s operating costs. Right now, the Arts Hub organizing committee is working on a presentation for the community to ensure residents of North Grenville know exactly where their tax dollars will be going. “We’ve got to earn money from people and show them why it’s worth it,” Jayne says. “We don’t expect that taxpayers should invest in something without it being concrete.”
Jayne claims they have lots of support from the various arts groups in Kemptville for the initiative, and that she has talked to three out of five councillors, who seem to believe it is a good idea. She says Councillor John Barclay has told her that this council is interested in investing more in arts and culture in the Municipality.
Jayne believes that the sky is the limit when it comes to the opportunities of having an Arts Hub in North Grenville could bring. Music classes, storage space, rehearsal space, workshops and galleries are all part of the overarching vision for the Hub. “It would be great if the Hub could become a nationally/internationally known organization,” she says. “Arts tourism is a massive global industry.”
The time is now for a local Arts Hub, Jayne says. “We are confident in our ability to be an active partner as the arts community forges a unique and refreshed cultural identity for North Grenville that not only sets us apart from our neighbours, but also makes us a leader in the region.”