“Affordable Muskoka” IS NOT an Oxymoron… Yet!

All The Convenience At a Fraction Of The Price

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   2 bdrm renovated condo in seniors’ lowrise $239,900/$461 monthly maintenance 
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Large renovated kitchen in the Town of Bracebridge seniors’ condo $239,900

Sometimes I feel like kicking myself for not holding onto a home in Toronto as the prices have risen to ridiculous levels. However, I only have to spend ten minutes in Toronto traffic to remind me that the trade-off was worth it.

 

Two hours north, Muskoka is a huge and vast region that covers almost the same area as the GTA. It is comprised of several towns like Huntsville, Port Carling, Gravenhurst and Bracebridge, smaller villages and hamlets in between and, of course, lots of lakes.  In my youth, when we came to the cottage from Toronto to Muskoka, mom would grocery shop in the city because there just wasn’t the variety up here and the prices were jacked up. Decades later Muskoka can boast about having pretty well everything one needs to live an incredible modern life. These days if Sobey’s, Wallmart, Shopper’s, LCBO or Home Depot doesn’t have it you can either travel an hour to Barrie or simply order it online.

Cottages have changed from a summer place where you dump the furniture you no longer want in the city to a place that is fully equipped for year-round use. And as I predicted twenty years ago, more than a home in Toronto, a cottage is an excellent investment. Where Toronto housing is spreading to the outskirts,  God ain’t making any more lakes. “What we have is all we’re gettin’.” 

However, for the time being, homes in the towns and villages of Muskoka have remained reasonable.  So when the time comes to sell that city house for $2.3 million   you paid $27,000 for fifty years ago, you can purchase an incredible home here in Muskoka for what is a bargain compared to Toronto. As I previously mentioned, today Muskoka has everything from fine dining to highly regarded hospitals, a variety of arts and cultural events to parks at your doorstep. Depending on where you buy, Toronto is a mere 2 to 2 3/4 hours away. (Actually, Gravenhurst is only 1 1/2 hours.) Taxes in the towns are reasonable and there you have water and sewers, parks, shopping, high-speed internet plus other amenities.

Offered at $249,900.  Newly renovated on 3/4 of an acre lot located in a small and historic Muskoka community.

For the time being buying here off-water in Muskoka is affordable, however, I must admit that I have seen a steady increase in prices and less product on the market. I think the word is out as more and more people are leaving the city for a life that is equally convenient but less stressful here in the Muskoka region.


Vince Grittani has been a licensed salesperson for fifteen years both in Muskoka and Toronto. He recently joined Solterra Realty Inc. Brokerage, in Port Carling, the heart of the region.  Vince has personally been buying and selling houses for thirty-five years and has owned and/or co-owned several cottages, city and country homes, condos and co-ops, attached and semis, both new and old construction on vacant and built upon land.

He is also known for his vast experience with cottage living and his contributions to the local and cultural community. Vince has written on a variety of topics for such publications as the National Post, Post Homes, Cottage Dog and Muskoka magazine, plus has produced and written extensively for television, stage and other media.  He owns and runs the successful casual TWG GUEST HOUSE in the village of Rosseau and  is the author of “The Weekend Guy; A Survival Guide” (Key Porter Books)   vince@weekendguy.com     www.weekendguy.com

“Wake Me” It Ain’t Over

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“Wake Me When It’s Over! The ‘12-Step Musical’ 

GRAVENHURST – The Gravenhurst Opera House presents its final theatrical production of the 2016 summer season; the award-winning “Wake Me When It’s Over…the 12-step musical”, an original comedy by Canadian stage and screenwriter Vince Grittani with music by Rosalind Mills. This comedic look at one man’s attempt to cope with change on his sixtieth birthday features Larry Herbert (Stratford’s “42nd Street”, Toronto’s ”Mamma Mia” and “Cats”) and the versatile Debbie Collins (Mirvish Production of “The Producers”), who was last seen in this year’s Opera House production of “The Marvelous Wonderettes!”

This high-energy comedy from the creator of hits “Yuppies! The Musical”, “Quiet! I’m Talking” and “Scenes From My Dock”, has been updated and features, in addition to the original, new scenes and songs like “Divorce of Course” and “I’ve Got An App For That!”

As Roger (played by Herbert) is about to celebrate his 60th birthday, he turns to Dr. Yolanda and her book “Flush, a 12-step program to happiness!” With each step Roger is confronted by a series of hilarious women from his life, past and present, all played (sometimes at the same time) by Collins. From his strap-happy grade school teacher Sister Mary of The Compassionate and Merciful Christ to the slightly wacky Margo, an Evita Peron wannabe, running for president of the condo association, Roger is forced to deal with each of these characters before moving on.

Award winning director Dayna Tekatch, who directed the 2016 season opener, “2 Across” as well as Mirvish Productions’ “Forever Plaid” in Toronto earlier this year, returns to direct and choreograph this production along with musical director Sherisse Stevens. The show opens Tuesday, September 13 and runs until September 30.

Visit www.GravenhurstOperaHouse.com to purchase tickets or call the Box Office: 705-687-5550

$20 off TICKETS for the new comedy “The AUDIT” at the Village of Rosseau Playhouse

 

 

 

 

Save $20 on a pair of tickets to performances (THIS WEEK ONLY) of “The Audit” a new comedy by Vince Grittani at THE VILLAGE OF ROSSEAU PLAYHOUSE , running July 8 -19.  Good for Tuesday July 8 through July 12 on PHONE ORDERS 705-224-3542 QUOTE “I’m a friend of the playwright” and save $20 off a pair of $60 tickets.  OR PRINT THIS PAGE and bring it to the box office any day between 11 AM to 5 PM.  FOR MORE INFORMATION visit www.destinationrosseau.com 

The Audit CAST with namesAUDIT POSTER

The Muskoka Independent Film Festival…The Village of Rosseau, a Perfect Setting!

ImageThis summer the tiny Village of Rosseau plays host to The Muskoka Independent Film Festival (MIFF). It is the final event to mark the end of a larger, 2-month, Destination Rosseau, a festival of live theatre, art, music and film.

Personally, I have been wanting to produce a film festival here in the area for years. Although there are a few events that call themselves film festivals in the region, I wanted MIFF to be more than just a series of screenings in one large venue. Plus, I did not want to bring in a prepackaged series either. I see MIFF as being “an event” on its own.

In the early days of the Toronto Film Festival, way before it went all Hollywood, each year I would receive a VIP pass that allowed me into everything. Those were the days when one did not have to pre-register to see a film. You just ran around from venue to venue with the catalogue tucked under your arm and got in line! (Although with the VIP pass you got to go to the front of the line. 🙂 ) . After or before a screening, you and fellow cinefiles would gather in coffee shops or bars, discuss the films you saw and listened for reviews of great flicks that had a second screening. There were parties and yes there were stars, but it was a more subtle display of fan adoration and no red carpet. There were also panel discussions where filmmakers would disclose the stories behind the makings of their projects. This is my vision for MIFF.

This year as my associates, members of the Rosseau Culture and Arts Project and fellow village residents, embark upon the launch of Destination Rosseau 2014, I was lucky enough to meet this wonderful woman Catherine Mondragon. Originally Catherine was going to assist me with grant writing, but I quickly realized that it was a waste of her talents. Catherine was a filmmaker and as I discovered, a film lecturer. And Bbesides film, Catherine has been a student of urban studies, a wonderful asset for my overall vision in this tiny hamlet of Rosseau as an arts destination. So I assigned her the position of coordinator of MIFF.

The great thing about Catherine is that she is from a generation a few below my own and so her contacts and view of the film world are different from my own. As a result, our programme for the first MIFF is forming into a “sweet celebration of the silver screen”.  Although at this point we are not ready to announce the final lineup, I can tell you that everything is going as planned.

The first Muskoka Independent Film Festival will take place from August 28 through 30th in three venues here in the Village of Rosseau. The Village of Rosseau is a quaint hub at the top of Lake Rosseau, part of the famous Muskoka Lakes system.  From Rosseau one has a choice of direct access to Huntsville, Bracebridge, Port Carling and Parry Sound. If there’s one word I hear over and over that describes the Village is “quaint”.  It boasts fine restaurants , a gourmet general store, LCBO, coffee shops, nursing station, churches, gift stores, art galleries and a few B&Bs. Just south of us one finds the JW Marriott Resort “The Rosseau” and Clevelands House with more restaurants and other facilities.  To the east there’s the famous Windermere House and to the west, the newly reopened Grand Tappattoo resort.

Our village is known as the place where it is not uncommon to find movie and sports stars, famous musicians or captains of industry casually having dinner, strolling through our Friday Farmer’s Market or haggling over the price at our Sunday antique market. All of this is located within a two block radius. Our venues, the new Rosseau Playhouse in the Agricultural Hall, The Memorial Hall and Frost Hall, part of the Anglican church, are within a two to three minute stroll of each other, as are the coffee shops and restaurants, the perfect location for pre and post viewing discussions.

Although we are not tapping into the local celebrities we have confirmed a few who are coming on board to kickstart MIFF. As informal discussions are very much part of our festival format, who better to lead them than my friend Dini Petty, who for years interviewed in depth, artists, “A” list movie stars and even over zealous cottage TV hosts like myself.  Catherine has and continues to bring on board a great variety of filmmakers and there’s more to come. We are accepting submissions up to the end of June. For details visit http://www.rosseaucultureandarts.com/Muskoka_Independent_Film_Festival.html  or email Catherine Mondragon at catherine@rosseaucultureandarts.com .

Day and festival passes are available now online at www.rosseaucultureandarts.com or after May 16th at the Destination Rosseau Box Office in the TWG Gallery in Rosseau. As our venues are “intimate,  passes are limited…and there will be parties.



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A Quaint Village Comes Alive…Exciting “Destination Rosseau 2014”

It’s been a long time in the making. Since moving from a lakeside cottage to an old farmhouse in the middle of this Front poster LOW RESquaint village, I have had this vision. I could see the Village of Rosseau was ideal for becoming an arts destination. It’s located where “Parry Sound meets Muskoka”.  This picturesque hamlet is a true hub.  Go west you find Parry Sound. East, Bracebridge. North, Huntsville. And south, Port Carling.  It’s two and a half hours north of downtown Toronto, and two hours south of Sudbury.  Within the village there are two fantastic B&B’s and  Crossroads, a very popular casual fine-dining restaurant. Within a twenty minute scenic drive there’s a variety of accommodations. Fifteen minutes south there’s The JW Marriott and Clevelands House. Take a slight detour between here and Bracebridge you’ll find Windermere House. This year we welcome the reopening of The Grand Tappatto Resort. All of these are perfect choices for both overnight stays and offer memorable dining experiences.

So the stage is set and now the Rosseau Culture and Arts Project (RCAP) is ready to deliver with Destination Rosseau 2014, an exciting festival of art, live theatre, music, film and more.

To begin, we are bringing back the award-winning  Muskoka Theatre Project’s with two great productions, here in the very village where it began twelve years ago.   The first is the premiere of a new comedy “The Audit”,  July 8 – 19,  that tells the story of  Ray, a divorced dentist who sells his practice to become a standup comic, only to have Revenue Canada audit him resulting with life altering consequences. Throw in his wise cracking dog Zeus, and it becomes a light comedy about a dark matter.   Then from July 29 – Aug 9, MTP is excited to bring back a new production of our original, award-winning “Quiet! I’m Talking”,  featuring Muskoka’s beloved Bunny Bevington-Smythe, who was featured in the 2013 Muskoka Lakes Associations yearbook. With updated material, played by Patricia Vanstone (Road to Avonlea) , Bunny is hilarious, poignant, witty and a bit naughty all rolled up in one. Soon to be a feature film “The Grass Widow of Muskoka”, don’t miss cocktails with Bunny.

Following our successful science workshops from last summer with Professor Whatz It, this year Destination Rosseau is presenting a whole week-long Science Camp for kids 8-14 from July 14 – 18. Full of hands-on experiments and demonstrations, participants explore the world of astronomy, geology, mechanics, chemistry, archaeology  and tons more.  And for those right-brained kids we are holding two Theatre Arts Camps for ages 9-14. Stage 1 “Be Scene” explores movement through the art of Neutral Mask. This is for kids of all levels, both those extroverts who are always up on stage performing  and those who might need a bit of confidence building. Stage 2 “Be Heard”, explores the voice as your instrument and then using it with movement.  Our instructors are all  professionals with years of experience.

Also for the kid in us all we are throwing a party on Saturday, July 26 called “Kinderfest”. It’s a whole day of workshops, performances, music, human gyroscopes, even 30 foot inflated animals that you can walk right inside. And then there’s the real animals like reptiles and snakes!

On Saturday, Aug 2 during the day it’s “Paint the Town Rosseau – 2″ . Artists are invited to come and capture a day in the life of our village. Then at night, in the playhouse it’s “Comedy Night in Rosseau”.  Direct from the “Just For Laughs Festival” , Derek Seguin headlines with fellow comedians DeAnne Smith and Matt Wright.

In the TWG Gallery, throughout the entire summer Destination Rosseau features “Brave Art”, three show of new art by Grace Short, Carolyn Megill, Stefan Galvanek  and Barb TenEycke .

On Aug 15 – 17 , Destination Rosseau sponsors “Voices in the Village”, three concerts; opera, Broadway and an afternoon of Jazz.

Finally, from August 28 through 30th ,  or our final event of Destination Rosseau 2014 it’s “The Muskoka Independent Film Festival”.  Join us and celebrity host, Canada’s own Dini Petty, for everything films, complete with galas, live interviews and lots of discussions.

We have something happening all summer long here in Rosseau. So buy a ticket, book a room and make you dinner reservations.  And don’t put it off too long.  Our venues are intimate and capacity is limited.  For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.rosseaucultureandarts.com

 

“Hey Gravenhurst, I’m Over Here! ”

IMG_00000103(Today, Feb 7 at 5:00  is the final day they are accepting  submissions so, I thought I would send this out one more time for good luck!) 

Ego v.s. Passion

Recently the Town of Gravenhurst posted an ad for the position of Manager of Arts and Culture. To say that I want the job is an understatement. I am the job. This isn’t an over-inflated ego speaking. It’s passion. In fact, one could say that I have been vying for the position for some time now. And now, admittedly,  I am campaigning for it!

combo theatre

The position, Manager of Arts and Culture for the town, includes overseeing its famous Opera House. This is a facility I have a history with that goes back to its 100th Anniversary in 2001, for which I was commissioned to create my summer musical “Scenes From My Dock!”. It played to packed houses.  Previous to that, the Opera House was home to a variety of professional theatre companies and a presenter of many great concerts and events. However, over the past decade the place has never experienced the buzz that was present since its centennial celebration. Its citizens have continuously expressed to me, and their council, of their concern for the lack of good programming and the financial drain the venue creates on the the town’s coffers.

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This job is the sum total of everything I’ve been doing!

You can click here. I have the qualifications. I’ve managed teams of individuals of all sizes and produced award winning results with budgets from nil to over a million. I’ve raised money through sponsorship, fundraising, government grants, advertising  and audience development. I’ve negotiated contracts and worked with professional union members, amateurs, agents, volunteers, actors, directors, writers, dancers, musicians, designers, artists, publicists, backstage crew, media, etc. , etc..  I know what it’s like to work with local government and have been a familiar face to most of the regional councils over the past twenty years. I’m not just a theatre guy but my experience branches into the visual, television and film arts. I am and have always been a big supporter and promoter of Muskoka with a keen interest in its history. (Even my award-winning screenplay “The Grass Widow of Muskoka”, based on my play “Quiet! I’m Talking”, to be a filmed in Muskoka, brings to life the region’s past and present lore.)

On the business side, I spent years in marketing, including working for various corporate clients and advertising agencies. I understand the importance of sponsorship and appreciate the value that lies in the Muskoka brand. And when it comes to understanding the nuts and bolts of an old building, my personal experience, not only with producing in and running a variety of theatre venues, but in real estate and ownership for the past thirty years, has given me a fairly good working knowledge of the mechanics. I recognize that the Gravenhurst Opera House is a valuable icon and an integral part of not only the town’s, but the whole Muskoka region’s, history. I believe the position of Manager of Arts and Culture goes beyond just the building itself and includes stimulating the cultural fabric of the entire town. It’s a position that must lead a unified effort from amongst the many special interests within the pool of citizens, creating a greater sense of community pride. It’s a position that must always look at the bottom line and strive towards sustainability in a very competitive environment. It’s also a position that must see arts and culture take an active role in reviving the town’s core and stimulate the local economy.

opera house

Culture is more than art!

I also understand the challenges that increased competition (both regionally and nationally), changing demographics, digital age media, and budget restraints present. I am well aware that one must develop creative solutions in order to sustain and support arts and cultural activity. And finally, the fact that the position is not just “arts manager”  means one must have an understanding that cultural activity isn’t just theatre, film and visual art, but includes other interests that make up the Town of Gravenhurst community.

So far my efforts to “campaign” for the position have not gone unnoticed. Many have sent in an email of support to the human resources on my behalf. (Be my guest  HumanResources@gravenhurst.ca). Some have commented that they have never seen such an enthusiastic pitch for a a government job! On the other hand, others have warned me that I may come across as “too aggressive”, turn them off and that I am being “too public”.  Well, the job is, or at least should be, very public. The person must be out there promoting and being involved. This is what a leader does. That is how one remains accountable to the people paying their salary.

My motto!
My motto!

I choose to believe that those making the hiring decision want to see change to the status quo and are interested in a person who can show leadership, creativity and have a genuine interest in the well being of the Town of Gravenhurst. That person is me.

Partnerships. Good for everyone!

As far as my vision for the Village of Rosseau, I see this as a perfect opportunity for a partnership. The challenge with Rosseau is that it is very small and it lacks facilities and a substantial permanent population, however it is located at the opposite end of Muskoka and in the designated region of Northern Ontario. A partnership lends itself to shared activity and access to Northern funding not available the the Town of Gravenhurst.  Although there would be some overlap, there would also be the potential to reach a greater audience with more activity. So therefore, Rosseau could be a satellite to Gravenhurst, and funding agencies love partnerships.

You get one life to live. Go for it!

My application for the position could have been simple and I could have just sent in a resume. But that’s not me. Instead, I have chosen to be very public and demonstrate just a smidgen of the effort I would exert if hired.

Using music I wrote for previous assignments and new graphics I created for original projects I have or am developing, here’s a sample of some of the artistic and cultural activity I would bring to the Opera House and the Town of Gravenhurst. Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1eAal8J7j1Y