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Councillor believes public art shouldn't just be downtown

The $40,000 the city's shelling out this year for public art won't get us much, according to Coun. Lisa Vezeau-Allen

The City of Sault Ste. Marie will spend $40,000 this year on public art, as part of a significant increase in local arts and culture funding.

"This could be large-scale or small-scale art installations," says Virginia McLeod, the city's manager of recreation and culture.

"On a smaller scale, it could be a $5,000 mural, or a community partnership project with the university, for example, to do some type of art installation," McLeod told last week's meeting of City Council.

The money could also be placed in a reserve, allowing the city to save up for a much larger piece like Haydn Llewellyn Davies' Algoma Blue, the anchoring centrepiece of Clergue Park.

Ward 2 Coun. Lisa Vezeau Allen, who served as executive director of the Arts Council of Sault Ste. Marie & District in 2013 and 2014, commented that $40,000 won't buy much in the high-priced and sometimes underappreciated world of monumental sculpture.

Vezeau-Allen is also pushing to have public art installed city-wide, not just downtown.

"$40,000 certainly will not go very far in terms of any sort of sculpture of things like that," she said.

"It would nice to see public art being throughout the community, not just in the downtown core."

The city's new cultural vitality committee is developing a public arts policy that will determine criteria for acquiring whatever is purchased with the $40,000.

Ward 1 Coun. Sandra Hollingsworth suggested the city consider acquiring interactive art to provide a sensory experience for autistic children and others.

The following 2021 cultural financial assistance grants, totalling $94,400, were approved last week by City Council:

  • Northern Ontario Latin-Hispanic Association – $5,000
  • Algoma Arts Festival Association – $7,500
  • Algoma Conservatory of Music – $20,000
  • Living History Algoma (Algoma 1812) – $12,000
  • 4.4/4 Collective – $535
  • Sault Symphony Association – $3,764
  • Sault Theatre Workshop – $5,000
  • Strawberry Moon Collective (Ode Imin Geezis) – $7,072
  • The ArtSpeaks Project – $11,750
  • The Sault Community Theatre Centre – $4,000
  • Sault Film Festival – $13,819
  • Thinking Rock Community Arts – $3,960

This further grant of $10,000 is pending approval:

  • Sault Ste. Marie Downtown Association – $10,000

The following applications were not approved:

  • Insights & Outsights – $5,000 (criteria not met)
  • Arts Council of Algoma – $35,000 (application incomplete)
  • SSM Insectarium (Entomica) – $5,000 (criteria not met)

David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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