We’ve always thought of Guelph as a uniquely artsy place, but is that still the case? Like with just about every aspect of life, COVID-19 had an effect on the arts; it’s hard to get out and see a band, or a local theatrical production, or to take part in a local festival when there’s no going outside. But as we recover from COVID we’re learning that the pandemic is not the only pressure point on the arts and local artists.
This is where we talk about the ubiquitous housing crisis because the average income for an emerging artist is, well, not a lot. If it’s hard for someone who makes a good living to find somewhere to live in Guelph, imagine how hard it is for someone who works part-time so that they can spend much of the rest of their time on their craft. Of course, but it’s not just about a place to live either, what about cheap rehearsal or studio space?
The issues around physical space are one of the things that are having an effect on local arts and artists, and as we head into prime festival season in the spring and summer, it makes sense to take account with an expert. This week, we will engage the expertise of Paul Barson, who is a quadruple threat as a member of the Downtown Theatre Project, organizer for Guelph Fringe, lead singer of the Vanishers, and a director on the Guelph Arts Council’s board.
Barson sits at the intersection of local music, the performing arts and arts administration so he’s the perfect person to have an honest discussion about Guelph’s arts scene. We’re going to talk about how far back the present challenges to local arts go, and how much of the blame for those challenges goes to COVID-19. We will also talk about the role of the arts council, whether or not there needs to be a combined advocacy from Guelph’s arts groups, and whether we’re on the verge of a local arts renaissance.
So let’s talk about the state of the arts on this week’s edition of the Guelph Politicast!
The next performance of the Downtown Theatre Project is Venus in Fur from May 24-28 at the Red Brick Cafe and you can learn more about the group here. The Guelph Fringe Festival will return on August 10-13 and you can learn more the festival here. You can listen to the music of the Vanishers on Apple Music and Spotify, and you can subscribe to the Guelph Arts Council newsletter at their website.
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Photo courtesy of the Guelph Fringe Festival.