Arts Council~Haliburton Highlands
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The Arts Council~Haliburton Highlands is a not-for-profit organization that "strives to provide a strong voice for the arts in Haliburton County, Ontario; serve as a catalyst for community economic development through the arts; and, through the facilitation of collaborative relationships among artists, organizations, businesses and government, contribute to the vibrancy of the arts and community life." 
The arts have played a significant role within Haliburton County over the past 40 years. In 1968 the Haliburton School of The Arts was founded by a local group (the Haliburton Highlands Guild of Fine Arts) in collaboration with the new Sir Sandford Fleming College started in the same year in Peterborough. This school began to attract artists to the community to teach the courses and helped to develop a growing community of artists who made their living in the County. The Guild supported the development of a variety of small groups that began developing arts activity in a number of sectors. This led to the creation of the Rails End Gallery in 1979, the Haliburton Concert Series (offering three (mostly classical) concerts each year) and the Haliburton County Studio Tour in 1987. The Guild now operates as Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre. The Haliburton School of The Arts grew to be one of Canada’s largest art schools.
In 1997, an Arts Committee was formed as an ad hoc committee of the Community Economic Development Committee of the Haliburton County Development Corporation to support local economic development through the promotion and advancement of the visual arts in Haliburton County. This committee undertook a wide range of initiatives including the installation of public sculptures, creation of the Haliburton Sculpture Forest, development of marketing materials related to the visual arts and professional development workshops for visual artists.
In parallel with these initiatives to promote the visual arts in Haliburton County, the community realized the dream of building a 230 seat theatre in conjunction with the expansion of the Haliburton Highlands Secondary school and the creation of the Highlands Summer Festival. This theatre festival attracts an annual audience of over 5,000 people. The municipalities of Minden Hills and Dysart et al. began investing in the enhancement of the public galleries in Minden and Haliburton to allow for year-round operations. The Haliburton School of The Arts built a year-round campus in a beautiful park setting in 2003 and now offers programs throughout the year attracting 3500 part-time students and 120 students in 10 different 15 week intensive programs. The Haliburton County Folk Society was created in 1999 and runs an open stage once a month, a series of performances by singer-song writers and a small folk festival. Highlands Media Arts, committed to video arts, was formed in 2003, and the Haliburton Highlands Writers and Editors Network was created in 2004. Many sectors of the arts were flourishing.
Creation of the Arts Council~Haliburton Highlands
In 2002, the Arts Committee, in collaboration with other key arts organizations in the County, formed a new Committee to oversee an initiative to:
- create a plan for the development and promotion of all sectors of the arts (not just the visual arts) in Haliburton County;
- create a collaborative central body to coordinate the implementation of the plan;
The information collected from participants at an Arts Forum in June 2003, from a series of surveys and interviews with stakeholders in a wide range of arts sectors in Haliburton County, from other communities across Ontario and from the Committee supported the creation of an Arts Council for the Haliburton Highlands and identified a mission and mandate for this endeavour.
The Arts Council~Haliburton Highlands was formed under the umbrella of the Haliburton County Development Corporation in the fall of 2003. A call was put out to the community for individuals who wished to serve on a Steering Committee to oversee the development of the Arts Council. The response was resoundingly positive and fifteen individuals involved in a wide range of artistic disciplines and arts organizations formed the first Steering Committee. This group worked to create a framework for committees, membership, programming and marketing, refined the mission and mandate, recruited a broad membership, put all of the administrative systems in place for incorporation and initiated a variety of programs to meet the mandate.
The Arts Council~Haliburton Highlands was created as a collaborative body to support the creative work of artists, arts organizations and arts businesses in Haliburton County. A lot of research was done on community arts councils throughout Ontario to inform the creation of the Arts Council~Haliburton Highlands. The real need in Haliburton County was not another organization that produced artistic events but one that supported the existing artists, organizations and businesses involved in production and programming with: marketing, organizational development, a unified voice for the arts within the County and to the world at large, opportunities for collaboration, opportunities for networking, training and professional expertise.
It was clearly articulated in the creation of the Arts Council that it would not be in the business of running discipline-specific artistic events (the County is endowed with many discipline-specific organizations and businesses that do this) unless those events or programs brought together a wide range of artistic disciplines. The Arts Council does provide assistance for the organization of sectors that are not already established and supports artists, arts businesses and organizations with the marketing of their activities and events.
In situations where the Arts Council does hire artists (art in the streets, artists in the schools, design of marketing tools) the Arts Council is committed to hiring local artists wherever possible and paying artists according to the fee structure established by the Ontario Arts Council, CARFAC and other groups that establish fees. The Arts Council strongly supports artists receiving value for their work and advises other organizations in this area.
In its first year of operation the Arts Council co-founded the Haliburton Tourism Coalition which represents all of the providers of “tourism product” in the County, was invited to sit on the Economic Diversification Committee of the County of Haliburton (The committee of County Council responsible at that time for ensuring the implementation of the County’s strategic plan) and was chosen to participate in Artscape’s first Creative Cluster program. Arts and Culture have been identified as key sectors in the strategic plans of the County and of the Haliburton County Development Corporation and the County adopted the slogan “A Natural Work of Art” as part of its brand image.
In the fall of 2005 the membership of the Arts Council elected a board of directors (to replace the steering committee) and adopted a set of by-laws and filed for incorporation. The Arts Council currently has a membership of over 320 members including artists, arts businesses, arts organizations, supporting businesses and organizations and individuals.
The Arts Council~Haliburton Highlands focuses on:
- Organizing collaborative efforts to market and bring attention to the artists, artistic endeavours and arts events in Haliburton County through initiatives such as the annual Arts Directory and Map, the Events Calendar, the monthly listings of events, workshops and opportunities, running “Art-in-the-Streets - artists demonstrations on the main street and at events throughout the County
- Providing professional development for artists and individuals involved in arts businesses and organizations (workshops on grant writing, artists working in the schools, income tax for self-employed artists, PIPEDA, creative clusters, copyright, visual marketing etc.)
- Providing consulting services for arts business and organizations on organizational development, strategic planning, and business planning
- Providing networking opportunities for artists, art organizations and businesses and other individuals, business and organization supportive of the arts through activities such as the semi-annual Arty Party and semi-annual forums.
- Ensuring that the arts have a voice at the decision making tables in the County through having representation on County Committees and developing partnerships with other County wide organizations in different sectors
- Being a champion for arts education through running an artists-in-the-schools program in rural schools, collaborating with other organizations to encourage and enhance arts education for all ages, collaborating with the Haliburton School of The Arts.
- Undertaking research and engagement with provincial and national organizations to be able to keep the community informed about information, opportunities and funding related to their arts practices.
- Celebrating the contribution of artists and the arts to the community through activities such as the Arts Honours Gala.
The Arts Council has five committees that work to plan and implement the activities of the Arts Council:
- Marketing Committee
- Membership and Community Relations Committee
- Education and Professional Development Committee
- Celebrations Committee
- Executive Committee
A nominations Committee is struck each fall to seek candidates for election to the board of directors at the Annual General Meeting.
The Board of Directors, through its committees and in collaboration with the staff, establish an action plan in the spring for the upcoming year. Each Committee develops goals within its area of responsibility and identifies financial and human resources required to accomplish these goals. The mandates of the five committees reflect the mission and mandate of the organization. Activities and programs are developed and planned in accordance with the mandate.
Arts Council Programs
Artists in the Schools
Since 2004, the Arts Council has been putting artists from Haliburton County into local elementary schools. Each classroom involved in the program participates in six 100 minute sessions with various artists. The classroom teacher matches the artists and the projects to their students' interests as well as the curriculum. Due to the various costs associated with running the program, the Arts Council undertakes fund-raising initiatives annually.
The Arts Council Presents...
In the summer months, local artists are invited to put on demonstrations and interact with the public at special events in Haliburton County.
The Annual Arts Honours Gala
Once a year, the Arts Council recognizes the individuals and groups that are involved with the arts in Haliburton County. Examples of award categories include: "Artist of Distinction", "Emerging Artist", and "Supporter and Founder".
AGM and Arty Party
Held in the fall, the AGM is where those who will represent the organization on the board are elected. After the meeting, the Arty Party (a social gathering for artists and supporters), follows. In the past, both events have been held at the Fleming College campus in Haliburton.
Membership of the Arts Council
Those who currently have a membership with the organization include 300 artists, businesses, organizations and supporters of the arts. These members are listed in 'The Arts Directory', which is distributed annually at various locations throughout Haliburton County.
Coordinator: Kim McBrien
Education Coordinator: Gail Stelter
The office of the Arts Council is currently located at 153 Mallard Rd, off of Industrial Rd. in Haliburton ON.