CULTIVATING CREATIVITY: Quinte Arts Council continues to flourish despite a challenging 2020

By Allen Steinberg/Quinte Arts Council

Although 2020 presented the arts sector with closed venues, empty social calendars and a rocky transition to virtual gatherings, the Quinte Arts Council (QAC) has continued to make significant progress as an organization. In their 54th annual general meeting (and 2nd consecutive held via Zoom), these peaks and valleys were detailed and their hardworking team was celebrated.

The meeting began by showcasing local musician and sculptor David R. Maracle’s recent performance at the Honouring Ceremony for the Indigenous JUNO Awards Nominees. His performance began with a moving land acknowledgement that segues into his song Lifeblood of Mother Earth.

The mic was then passed to chair Andrea Kerr, who highlighted the importance of the QAC to the community: “Our investment into the arts is an investment into the Quinte region,” she says.

Kerr announced on behalf of the QAC that two board of directors will be moving on to new adventures, while two more will be welcomed to the team. Dan Atkinson has been a director since 2007 and Jenny Woods since 2014, and both have volunteered as treasurer, Chair and Past Chair. Paul Papadopoulos and Brit Johnston have both been brought aboard.

Many of the past year’s achievements were detailed in the 2020 Annual Report from executive director Janet Jarrell. Some highlights include: when the art world was forced to adapt to online platforms, the QAC launched the #QuintePerforms Facebook Video Contest to award $500 to two favoured performers. The virtual event was a major success, with thousands of votes for more than 50 submissions. The team also hosted Cultural Recovery Roundtables for performing, literary and visual artists that helped them with resources and community building during the pandemic. Moreover, in the summer 2020 edition of their Umbrella magazine, more than 25 artists reached out to them to share their stories of how their craft has been affected by COVID-19. Despite how isolating the past year has been, it would seem that QAC’s outreach has only strengthened within the community.

In terms of financials, the QAC experienced a loss of revenue due to COVID-19 restrictions, but government recovery funds helped mitigate their financial hardship and put them in a good position moving forward.

At the AGM, mayor Mitch Panciuk made an appearance to acknowledge the QAC’s memorable year: “For those of you who know me, you know I think that arts, culture and heritage are very important and are fundamental to society. They’re part of the reason people want to live, stay and thrive here in Belleville.”

Panciuk says that when live performances and festivals become regular events again, the city of Belleville will continue to partner with and support the Quinte Arts Council.

Dug Stevenson from the Bay of Quinte Regional Marketing Board also popped in to congratulate the QAC: “Your team made it through another year, but you didn’t just make it through, you thrived through.”

Close to 30 people attended the meeting. Quinte-based rock band Arm’s Length ended off the evening, playing an acoustic version of their song Safer Skin.