2021 was a year of preparation and regeneration. We spent five months of the year in some form of provincially mandated lockdown which meant the Quinte Arts Council (QAC) Team worked remotely most of the year. Despite these challenges the QAC continued to grow as an organization. At the 55th annual general meeting, held in person after two long years of zoom meetings, this exciting growth and revitalization was celebrated.
The QAC presented a video they produced locally with Eighty Twenty Studio, celebrating the Belleville Arts and Culture fund. The video showcases the talents of River & Main Theatre Company, Ontario Dance Academy, Quinte Ballet School of Canada, Quinte Symphony, Andy Forgie, Bazaar Artisan Market, Cadets band Navy League of Canada – Belleville Branch, Arts By Us 613, Blinc Studios, and the QAC Umbrella magazine.
Andrea Kerr, Chair of the QAC Board, highlighted the importance of the arts during the extended lockdowns and confusion of 2021. “As our community continued to pull through the pandemic, the arts quenched our spirits and pulled us together. During times of isolation and uncertainty, the arts added value to all of our lives. The arts have inspired, connected, challenged and brought joy when we needed those things most.”
Kerr introduced the two newest members of the board, Paul Papadopolous and Brit Johnson who officially joined in the summer of 2021. Kerr also thanked QAC Executive Director Janet Jarrell for her authentic and transformational leadership this year. The board celebrated outgoing director, Lise Lindenberg. Since 2016, Lindenberg has played an active role in advancing the local arts and culture mandate through the QAC. She was key to updating the bylaws in 2018 and the rejuvenation of the space in that year as well. Kerr thanked Lindenberg for her many years of dedication, and wished her the best in her upcoming artistic endeavors.
Many of the past year’s achievements were detailed in the 2021 annual report (available on the QAC website). Despite lockdowns the QAC facilitated 6 professional development workshops attended by over 100 participants. Umbrella Magazine, produced quarterly, celebrated over 100 artists, employed 12 writers, 4 staff and a dozen volunteers. Umbrella distributes 20,000 copies locally and across the province. Umbrella magazine created collaborations – for example it connected RCI Studios in Trenton with David R. Maracle, a project is in the works. In collaboration with First Tuesday Muse(FTM), the QAC hosted a night of poetry featuring local poets in honour of the Tweedsmuir (lost in a devastating fire) and celebrating FTM’s fifth year. Despite lockdowns and local tragedies the QAC’s outreach not only survived but grew stronger in 2021. Connections were made, artists were supported and we prepared for a time when we can be together again.
The audited financial report for the QAC was presented by Mike McMurray, CPA, CA of Welch LLP. The QAC had more expenses than in 2020 due to the cost of renovations and the cost of converting to more digital platforms. However, these expenses were offset with a higher than previous years revenue growth and an almost doubling of memberships over 2020.
Executive Director Janet Jarrell reflected on the past year and said “2021 was tough. We spent nearly half the year in some form of lockdown, but with every setback, we put our heads down, wrote those grants and got the work done. The challenges of the year brought many of us together. In February, we partnered with the Belleville Downtown District and a local artist to create Moira Magic. A beautiful display of ice sculptures, lit up at night all along the Moira River. This community project brought much needed light and inspiration to our community during a bit of a dark time.”
Close to 50 people attended the meeting. Jazz musicians Howard Rees and Paco Luviano played for the crowd, a taste of what’s to come at the first annual Belleville Jazz Festival this September.