Cause for celebration

By Dan White – Special to the Sydenham Current

This week let’s talk celebration!

At the municipal council meeting on April 29 a motion to support the Chatham Kent Arts and Culture Network (CKACN) for $25,000 per year for 3 years was unanimously approved.

The funds come from the Hydro One fund and therefore have no tax impact.

The impact it does have is offering the CKACN financial stability and the opportunity to develop programs that assist and promote arts across CK.

For the past several months we have been considering ideas but with limited cash we have been reluctant to actively plan more than our Oct 23, 2024 Heroes event which has been sponsored for all 3 years by Waste Connections Canada.

With the new funding we can build on this, not only can we showcase talented artists with CK roots or significant connections, we can create an event that rivals the many celebrations of athletes across our community through their sports halls of fame with our Wall of Fame Heroes of Arts and Culture.

This year that committee has already added an emerging youth artists scholarship of $1,000 which we are sponsoring for its inaugural year.

We understand the importance of encouraging and supporting young talent in CK to continue to build and grow the incredible base of talent throughout this community.

If you are, or know, a gifted young artist that is secondary school age, meander over to our CKACN Facebook page for the application.

We will also build on our incredibly successful Studio Tour.

In 2023 we had around 16 artists invite people into their creative spaces.

In September of 2024 we have 31 artists signed up and we now have the financial ability to truly promote that project and support our local artists.

We have been invited to host a gathering of artists from across Southern Ontario by the Alliance of Arts Councils of Ontario.

Creating an event that brings artists from Sarnia Lambton through to Windsor Essex to Chatham Kent to talk arts and brainstorm ways to improve the quality of life for everyone across the south.

An exciting opportunity to pursue!

With this 3-year commitment by council they are showing that they understand the value of arts and culture in our community and as a board of directors we are committed to finding creative ways to generate $3 of value for every dollar invested.

The next reason to celebrate is that the new season of the Stratford Festival has opened!

While supporting local artists and celebrating excellence in the arts in your own community is paramount, experiencing world class entertainment is invaluable to the ability to set standards, elevate your skills and set lofty goals for your local arts.

Full disclosure – I love Shakespeare, I have since 1976 when my grade 8 class from Mooretown PS attended The Merchant of Venice.

I could not afford the ticket for the class trip but the school custodian heard that I wanted to go and made me a deal; help with spring gardening and he would pay for my ticket.

I never looked back.

A little work has never bothered me and I was never a cool kid, so saving face was not an issue.

This year marks the 48 th consecutive year I have attended at least one show.

But Shakespeare is not the only option in Stratford.

Take a look at the season.

Joni and I started our season with La Cage Aux Folles, the musical farce first performed in 1973 was “a groundbreaking farce, the first play to have a same-sex couple as the main romantic couple.” (Credit: Program Notes by Katie Gilson Clark) This show is wonderfully entertaining, funny and poignant.

Throughout the show the theme of learning to be yourself reverberates through the production.

Drag Queen Albin, played brilliantly by the talented Steve Ross states, “I am who I am.” In our contemporary society with deep divisions in ideologies this show offers a humorous look at people struggling to be themselves.

The dancing was stellar, fun, energetic and flawless.

The singing was wonderful, costumes brilliant.

The pinnacle for us was the acting.

I have seen shows in Stratford where the cast seemed to be mailing in the performance or the direction seemed to suck the life out of the show.

Steve Ross and Sean Arbuckle were fabulous together playing off of each other masterfully.

(I have never seen Steve Ross do anything that wasn’t a standout performance.) They are complimented perfectly by the ridiculously over the top Chris Vergara as Jacob.

The three of them alone are worth the drive to Stratford.

Honestly, there was not a weak link in this stellar cast.

We would see it again.

Finally, the show would be lacking without the work of the brilliant musicians in the pit and the gifted scenic carpenters, including our friend Mark Smith.

Joni and I actually happened upon trombonist Janice Owens and, like most truly gifted artists, she was happy to stop and talk about the show and truly appreciated the review of the show by a couple of strangers on the street as she made her way from the theatre.


May 25 at Trinity United Church, 2 pm – Wallaceburg Brass Quintet and Friends present a wide variety of wonderful music – free

May 31 at Wallaceburg Christian Reform Church, 7 pm – Gavin Warren presents his final recital until the fall. – $20 at the door

May 23 – 25 at The Kiwanis Theatre, Theatre Kent presents “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” tickets at

June 1 at St Andrews Church, Chatham – the finale of the Saturday’s at 7 concert series.

June 2 in Buxton the Wallaceburg Concert Band presents, Rock Roll and Remember – encore performance – free

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