As a constituent of your ward, a taxpayer, an artist, award-winning filmmaker and community volunteer, I want to express my most sincere displeasure with council’s decision to pay $900,000 to erect a massive art project made by non-local artists as part of the waterfront development. I was already unhappy when I heard the contract had been awarded to a multi-national firm who has no vested interest or deep understanding of our region, our place, our history, our people, our struggles or our successes. We have some of the most gifted artists in the country living right here in our city, yet this what the “committee” decided to go with? It reeked of a corporate art project, of monument building by the elite, of the kind of project you’d see on Bay St. in Toronto. It reeked of a lack of pride in our own people, a people who are different on account of where they live.
Today, I read in the paper how this council ‘cares about art’ and that’s why you approved this particular project. As a proud northern artist who has sat on several Ontario Arts Council juries and won international awards for my work, I can safely say this project does not speak to me or seem to fit the location, people, or history of the place (even with the tacky morse-code LED blips – which incidentally, is sadly derivative of our other great monumental art project sitting atop the OLG “charity” Casino). If this council truly cares about art, then don’t you think this money would be better spent on arts programming for youth or even a youth centre? By my reckoning, this is enough money to run a successful youth arts engagement project for 8-10 years. Imagine the impact such a program could yield, particularly in the context of the out-migration of our best and brightest and the proliferation of issues pertaining to the ignored, forgotten, struggling, youth in our city. That money could change lives. It could save lives. It’s also enough money to create 20 locally-crafted art projects that would beautify our decaying urban cores.
Instead of building monuments to “development” as this seems to be, perhaps council should be thinking about investing in its citizens.
Yours in community,