Local talent deserves our support all year

Grand Bend Strip publisher Casey LessardView from the Strip
By Casey Lessard

It should not be a surprise that our community has a lot of talented people. Some of them are profiled in these pages each week, and I don’t imagine we’ll ever run out of people deserving of our attention. We have lots of local musicians, actors, dancers, artists and otherwise creative people in our midst.
The real question is: are we wasting the opportunity to keep these talented people here all year by celebrating our arts community three months of the year? Are we doing enough during those three months to develop artists while they’re here so they come back?
Grand Bend businesses are experienced in the art of grabbing opportunities when time is of the essence. Let’s use those skills to give the arts community a school for the arts, theatre programming for kids, teens and young adults, and legislation supporting buskers and street artists.
Artists within this community would welcome official support for such programs, but our addiction to making hay while the sun shines means the long-term health of the community will struggle unless more people learn there is money in the arts. Haliburton is a great example of an arts-rooted community that relies heavily on summer visitors. Take a drive down any road and you will find thriving artists’ studios and shops. A fine arts college campus opened a few years ago, and their community theatre is heavily supported. Their volunteer community radio station has the most listeners in the county.
Tourists come here for entertainment and to get away from their workday worries. Art, in its many forms, is part of the solution. Sunbathing and partying are entertaining, but only in measured doses. The area’s demographic is changing, and if we want to remain relevant, it’s time to shift our focus to a more viable community vision with the arts ranking as a high civic priority.