The Quality of My Country Life…would probably send Oliver and Lisa Douglas back to Manhattan!

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This is what the water does to our appliances. Imagine what it does to our health.!

I am very lucky. Not because I live in the country but because I know how to survive in the country. And when I say survive, I’m not talking about chopping down trees and growing my own food (both which I am capable of doing). No, I’m talking about the dealing with those emergency things, like for instance, when I went downstairs yesterday and discovered the water heater oozing rusty goo through its electrical panel. So, I shut off the electrics to the tank, attached a hose and drained the tank…And you should have seen the crap that came out. It was thick black ooooozing, rusty sludge.

I think most people would look at this as a problem. For me it was a challenge. So I packed up the dog, hooked up the trailer and made my way over to my favourite store…La Maison d’Depot.

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My well water is, well, poison.

When I stand in the aisle of Home Depot I’m in heaven. So many gadgets to play with. It truly is a learning experience. Of course, the only annoying thing when I am there are those damn salespeople, sorry “associates” (Right. As if they share in company profits). I learned a long time ago that in most cases I know more than they do.

Anyway, I decided on the cheapest 40 gal Hotpoint heater that they had. The reason, because I know I will be replacing it in a few years. You see, even though I, like many residents in the Village, have undrinkable, contaminated  water that is high in iron, the Township continues to look the other way stating “it’s too expensive”, even though the people I know would all be willing to pay whatever to have town water and sewage. Yes, sewage too. Everyone has a septic, that either drains toward the lake or downhill towards my property.

A few years ago I brought a group to our local township who were interested in “developing” the village outskirts. In exchange, they would install water and sewage to the existing residents for free! They also ensured that the development would be in keeping with the “quaintness” of Rosseau.

We were immediately told by the officials saying that the residents of the Township of Seguin (meaning the wealthy cottagers on the lakes) don’t want to see Rosseau change. In other words, tax increases. The present administration prides itself on being fiscally responsible and eliminating the Township debt, for which I commend them. However, to achieve this they eliminated things like garbage pickup and a few other services plus engaged in very little progressive projects.

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The new tank… No soldering needed when using those great snap-click couplers! I ended up installing the new tank. It has a six year warranty….of course the tank will last about four if I’m lucky.

2014 is an election year and there is a growing and concerned group of us that are personally going to ensure that the water/sewage issue is front and centre to all the candidates throughout the Township. It is not impossible. It’s a very workable situation that is going to take some creative thinking. (Bet you never thought I was going to make this political!) There comes a time to rethink the term “natural” when it concerns the resident’s health and wealthy…oops I mean welfare.

 


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Call for Visual Artists! Summer 2014

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The TWG Gallery  operates  under the Rosseau Culture and Arts Project, a registered non-profit arts and culture organization. This summer  TWG will be part of “Destination Rosseau”, our three month branding festival in the  Village of Rosseau that includes art, workshops, live theatre, and of course, art.  Although still a works-in-progress our website is www.rosseaucultureandarts.com .

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20130605_200600For 2014 we are changing the structure of the gallery and although we will retain a representational collection of selective artists, we are dedicating the majority of the presentation space to rotating shows of either individuals or groups. As part of “Destination Rosseau”, we are planning a fairly extensive marketing campaign and this includes promoting the gallery to increase traffic. Our small craft/gift store does create substantial traffic and we are considering adding art supplies to our inventory. We are also going to be using the space as our box office for our theatre located next door. Plus, we are looking at establishing some sort of food service component, also near the gallery. Most likely it will be in the form of a gourmet  food truck.

Our series at the gallery for 2014 is called “BRAVE ART”.  We have chosen this theme for it’s versatility. It can not only refer to the artist and their work but also the viewer and potential buyer. The idea is to challenge the buyer to make a decision based on their own feelings and perception, not their “interior designer” nor another outside influence. There’s a lot of fear involved in buying art. Exposure and education helps.

For the artist, the term “brave” can refer to their art or the process. Perhaps it’s working through some debilitating event in their lives or as simple as moving from one medium to another. It could be the challenge of a subject matter or even to just show their work in public. Maybe it’s the statement your overall story makes.Although we are set up primarily with hanging space, we can easily adapt to display three dimensional art.  We have a variety of wall space and can hang up to 6 feet wide and 8 feet high.  The shows will all open on a Monday Night with a reception and striked on a Sunday, late afternoon. All shows will hang for at least two weekends. Depending on size and medium, each show will consist of a minimum of eight pieces. 

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The TWG Gallery

We are open to emerging and established artists. We’ll consider all mediums and genres. We are looking for interesting…and marketable work.  However, there must be some aspect of “new”.  You can be an artist new to the Muskoka/Parry Sound gallery scene.  Your show can include new works and previously completed works from you own portfolio. At least 75% of your work has to be available for sale. The remaining 25% can be borrowed and for display only. You need to be available to hang and strike your show with our assistance. The split is 60% artist, 40% gallery.

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The TWG Gallery is located in an old brick farmhouse in the middle of the Village of Rosseau on Lake Rosseau, right on the main throughway. Our clientele consists of middle and upper income, seasonal cottagers, visitors to the area and professionals from the surrounding communities.  The presentation space is all white with original walls and movable, secure flats. We have a hook and wire hanging system and the rooms are lit with a combination of natural and adjustable electric sources.

If you are interested in participating this summer we’d love to hear from you! Please send an email , tell us your story and give us a  link to your info and portfolio by December 31, 2013.  The sooner the better.     gallery@rosseaucultureandarts.com

Vince Grittani , (executive director  Rosseau Culture and Arts Project)

“Attention Shoppers! Creativity on Sale, Aisle Three” Figuring Out Your Artistic Worth!

I have always had a problem placing value on my artistic work; writing, drawing, plays, TV scripts, whatever. Even though I have created hits on stage that run up to a year, TV shows that play for years or writing and illustrating a bestselling “how to” humourous book, I have always found it difficult to figure out the value and what to charge. Based on the number of times I’ve been ripped off, other think I have value. For some reason, because I enjoy doing the work so much, it has been hard putting a price on it.  Perhaps this comes from my early Catholic upbringing which indoctrinated me with the idea of putting others first and yourself way at the back of the bus.

However, after decades of being on this planet I think i figured it out. Actually, dealing with government bureaucracy did.

For the past three months I have spent my days filling out numerous grant applications. This is all new to me for I have always been one that believes art should pay for itself. If it is good, demand creates value.

For years I have sat back and watched the same would-be artists and administrators, whose ideas are neither original nor good for that matter, continue to line up at the various agency money troughs. In the process they got to pay themselves first! (A novel idea in my world.) And because they were a known entity in the system, they got to come back year after year. Image

I have always backed my plays, television projects and other creative ventures by mortgaging my house or raising sponsorship.  And I’m talking about work that made a mark, that had great runs, toured, sold lots of tickets, received awards or were sold internationally. And because I never placed myself first in line to be paid, I rarely saw proper renumeration.

When I opened the TWG Gallery the past year, I was amazed at the number of my known artists who literally figure out the value of a new painting by the square foot. I know when I have written under Writer’s Guild contracts for programmes other than my own, one is paid by the minute. Under the Playwrights’s Union there’s a standard fee based on the number of seats. But because I like to take on the producer/writer role and using my own funds, unions rarely come into the picture. Only if I sold the project was there ever a few shekels for me, the creator, the guy who started the ball rolling in the first place!

So finally, after years of self-flagellation, (Thanks Sister Martha Ann), I finally realized something.  Unless you can create a mechanical blockbuster that appeals to the masses, will the creator see any monetary reward. And even then, because bigger means the pie is sliced into more pieces, gross doesn’t always guarantee a net return. Yet, all these various funding agencies are willing to support, or as they like to say, “invest”, in the same ventures, year after year. Festivals, films, theatre companies whatever, art does not pay for itself…the government does!

Now on my seventh grant application for next summer’s big project, with each one I have become more confident that I have the answer to artistic sustainability in Canada. First of all, besides the odd agency, like some on the grants offered by the Ontario Arts or Canada Councils which are “juried” by fellow artists and “friends of”, quality means nothing. Schlocky films get made, obscure theatre gets staged, bad television programmes are produced and insignificant annual festivals and events will continue to be mounted. The most important criteria for receiving funding is not standards or originality, it’s “How many jobs are you going to create?”.  

Holy crap! Is that what it takes to get government funding? Let’s see, considering the fact that I rarely paid myself as writer, the ideas I have conceived and have made it to full production since 1985 in various media,  I am responsible for close to ten thousand plus jobs.  Mind you, most are short term contractual, but they are jobs.

Besides jobs, the impact your idea creates is equally important. I am not referring to emotional impact, for that has no worth in the funding formula, but rather economic impact. If someone drives from beyond forty kilometres to attend your event, it’s more than likely they will go out for dinner, do a little shopping and even stay over for a day or two. Whether they buy your painting, like your music or laugh at your comedy, means nothing. Again because that would imply appreciation and acceptance, which is too hard to measure. It’s easier to use formulas like “For every dollar spent on a theatre or entrance ticket, five to seven is spent in the surrounding community.”  So suddenly your thirty-five dollar ticket translates into two-hundred and forty five! Or your TV programme or article in a magazine generates millions in advertising revenue. I would assume the formula for film is jobs created, times money spent in the community, times world-wide distribution, times the taxes on the Hollywood producer’s LA home.

So following this formula, if you count  the dinners in restaurants, items purchased in stores, overnight stays in hotels, cable television subscriptions, magazines sold,  commercial time bought, ad space in programmes, sponsorship money spent, gas tank fill-ups, care rentals, lumber purchased, electricity needed, (etc.) plus the jobs created, the value of art goes beyond the applause or how well it looks hanging above a couch.

As I proceed securing funding for my various ventures, I have learned that the value of the artistic product has nothing to do with the number of hours spent, the feeling it causes nor the brilliance it displays. Art is a commodity. Actually art is more like a loss leader. Art is that item they advertise and put on sale at the back of the grocery store in hope that as consumers proceed down the aisle they’ll pick up full-priced items. I finally get it. “Attention shoppers!”

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