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Guest Editorial: Making Guelph a Better Place

In every community, the arts play an important role in strengthening community pride, increasing our enjoyment of public spaces, contributing to economic vitality, and improving community well-being.
On an individual level, studies have shown that engagement in the arts makes us feel more connected to our community, lowers stress levels, positively impacts our mental health, and increases our overall satisfaction with life – all good reasons to get out and explore what Guelph has to offer.
Guelph is well known for its vibrant and diverse arts sector. Our museums, galleries and theatres offer a range of top-notch experiences. Guelph is home to several internationally celebrated music and dance festivals.
From the grounds of Ignatius Jesuit Centre, to the city’s downtown, to Macdonald Stewart Art Centre’s sculpture garden and the University of Guelph, there are wonderful examples of art in public spaces throughout the city for residents and visitors to enjoy. All of these elements contribute to the vibrant community that we know and love.
While walking down Quebec Street and admiring the new banners created by the Downtown Guelph Business Association, I realized that the individual artists behind the work are often forgotten. The banners celebrate the contributions of 12 local artists, but I’m sure selecting just 12 was a challenging task. The City’s Cultural Mapping Project, an inventory of the city’s arts and culture assets, has identified more than 350 visual artists, media artists, performers and writers, but we know that there are still artists missing from our list.
Although they are often busy working in private studios, away from the public eye, Guelphites have a number of opportunities to interact directly with a large number of these creative people this summer.
The city’s new Artist in the Community program, for example, provides community members with a chance to work with local artist Pearl Van Geest in the creation of a community art project at the West End Community Centre. On Saturday mornings throughout the summer, visitors to Market Square can work with two more local artists on free community art projects. Musician Jenny Mitchell will be coordinating a community recording project in July and sculptor Ben McCarl will work with participants to create a “Tower of Dreams” in August.
This Saturday offers possibly the best chance to chat with some of the local artists that enrich our community every day. The 12th annual Art on the Street kicks off at 10 a.m. and features 86 visual artists, with entertainment provided by a host of local musicians and performers.
You don’t have to wait for events to interact with artists, though. Consider a trip to one’s private studio or invite an artist out for a coffee. You can find contact information on the Guelph Culture Map.
We should personally thank all of our artists for doing what they do. Our lives are richer for it. Take advantage of the many opportunities to get to know Guelph’s artists over the next few months and share these opportunities with friends, family, and other members of the community.  I’m sure your lives will be richer for it, too.
Astero Kalogeropoulos is program officer with the city’s Arts & Culture Community and Social Services.

One Response to “Guest Editorial: Making Guelph a Better Place”

  1. Pandora says:

    Yes! And support your local Arts Council! As Astero says “arts improve a community’s well-being.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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