Stay cool & get out and support the arts

By Dan White – Special to the Sydenham Current

A great many things have happened in the arts world for Joni and I lately.

It has been a busy, but fun time.

First a few updates and happenings:

In late June the CK Arts and Culture Network headed to Blenheim’s Red Barn Brewing Co for our board meeting.

We have directors from across the county so we usually meet virtually.

However, a few times a year we meet in person and it is always a fun time.

For this meeting we invited several guests to chat arts and brainstorm after the official business was concluded.

These meeting tend to be the genesis of ideas we build upon and this one was no different.

Look for some great new initiatives in the coming months.

Local artist (Dresden) Sarah Steele is spearheading a very cool project this month.

CK CanJam ’24 is happening July 15-20 in Chatham.

Sarah has invited artists to come and paint large murals on 9 buildings in Chatham.

You are invited to wander around and view the artists at work all week long.

The 9 artists are from as close as Chatham (Sarah M Robbins) and as far as Australia (James Wilson).

This looks to be a very cool venture and will certainly beautify some buildings in need of an arts uplift.

Sarah is looking to make this a first annual event with murals being painted in communities across CK in the future.

Check out the website for more info.

It’s nice to see free live concerts returning to Wallaceburg this summer.

The Wallaceburg District Council for the Arts is organizing free concerts on Tuesday nights during the summer.

The concerts will happen at Richardson Parkette (beside Glasstown Brewing) from 6:30-8:30.

The website shows four concerts scheduled.

Bring a chair and enjoy some local CK talent.


The Chatham Concert Band is back in full swing with free concerts every Wednesday evening at 7 throughout the summer at Tecumseh Park.

This is always an enjoyable evening of music in the park.

Bring a chair.

To stay on top of what is happening in local arts be sure to tune into CKXS 99.1 at 8:45 on the 4th Wednesday of each month.

Morning Co-Host Robyn Brady and I talk about all things arts in CKACN’s “Art of The Matter”.

There is lots of art close to home that is inexpensive or free.

If you want to experience professional theatre, remember, you don’t have to remortgage the house to take your family.

Stratford has sales on all the time.

Currently there is a deal that ends at midnight today – July 3 with tickets from $19-$59.

Do not despair… there will be another one soon.

To get these great deals, contact and get on their email list.

Which brings me to the performing arts filled Canada Day weekend Joni and I had.

On Friday we attended Shakespeare’s Cymbeline.

While Joni is not a huge Shakespeare fan, she goes because I am and she is an incredibly supportive wife and human.

Cymbeline is one of The Bard’s least produced shows.

In its 71 year history Stratford has only produced this show 5 times, 1970, ‘86, 2004, ’12 and this year.

By contrast Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear have all been mounted 11 times.

Romeo and Juliet was tied with them but it is being presented again this year.

The opening scene was a dream-like sequence that was beautifully choreographed and brilliantly introduced all of the characters moving from a dance-like scene to tableau.

The tree up stage center plays a pivotal role in the telling of the story and was awe inspiring as a key component of the set.

As is expected in Stratford, the acting, wardrobe and sets were fabulous.

It can be a challenging play to follow, but this cast and crew made it clear and fun to witness.

For me, there was something missing.

It wasn’t until the next day at Huron Country Play House in Grand Bend that I identified that “something”.

Usually, when one describes how great a set was in a review of theatre, it is how we hide the truth about subpar performers.

However, in this production of Fiddler on The Roof, from the opening scene where Douglas Paraschuk’s set sets the tone until the final scene where it truly morphs to outline the excoriation that is the storyline of this show, stripping all away, it does not upstage.

Rather, it is a sublime part of the narrative that weaves through a spectacular show.

The cast was fabulous, every element of this musical was brilliantly presented with strong voices, rich characters with a depth of emotion that drew us into the story.

Jesse Grandmont was not just a fiddler; he was an exquisite performer who beautifully wove the thread of his playing through the show like a spider’s web.

Whether the choice to hide Grandmont’s face from the audience to keep the focus on his fiddle was his choice or that of director Lisa Stevens, it was a subtle and brilliant choice.

There was not a hitch in this performance.

The audience was drawn in, engaged and when the standing ovation occurred at the conclusion it was truly earned.

We would attend this production again and again!

We were drawn in and empathetic to the plight of the characters.

And that was the “something”.

While I enjoyed Cymbeline, I was not lost in the story.

To top our arts weekend off, Joni and I joined 11 other Wallaceburg Concert Band members who augmented the Sarnia Concert Band on Canada Day.

We played at Canatara Park Bandshell for most of 2 hours with the SCB and we had a blast.

The weather was perfect, location beautiful, crowd appreciative and our hosts were gracious and kind.

Of course, for me it was like old home week.

The band boasts 3 retired Scits teachers, several of my former students and even parents of former students.

It was a perfect way to wrap up our performing arts extravaganza.

Until next time… stay cool and get out there and support the arts!

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