A Collaboration Committee was formed, with representatives from both parties, to identify areas of collaboration and a formal action plan with clear timeframes. Measurable outcomes ere approved by both Boards. The plan of action has been used to review existing policies and procedures of both organizations and to foster the identification of common ground and shared activities. To date it has meant that the South Simcoe Arts Council has reviewed and revised all its existing policies and procedures. It has led to the development and final sign off a Letter of Agreement with the Gibson Cultural Centre for the operation of the Gallery. The Agreement will come into effect as of January 2015. To date the South Simcoe Arts Council in collaboration with the Gibson Cultural Centre has carried out new programs, joint advertising and fundraising initiatives.
At this time, your Council has reviewed the elements of the grant and proposed a sustainability plan for the elements it has identified as valuable to its members. In the New Year, both parties will share their sustainability plans to identify further opportunities for collaboration. This initiative has enabled a sharing of resources and manpower resulting in more opportunities for both. The parties will continue this approach through the life of the grant. The lessons learned in this undertaking have been and will continue to be applied by the Arts Council in dealings with other identified partners.
In fact, the development of a sustainability plan for the South Simcoe Arts Council has identified the need for an ongoing paid position of Executive Director for the Arts Council. The Board has looked at a strategy to enable the continuance of the paid position beyond the life of the Trillium grant. To that end, your Board has been seeking information, input and direction on a regular basis from the Ontario Arts Council to ensure a successful outcome in our 2015 application for operational funding. We have teleconferenced, met personally with staff of the Ontario Arts Council and have sought advice from other Arts Councils who are currently receiving operational funding.
The President and the Executive Director both personally chose to attend a new conference offered for the arts communities in rural settings. The SPARC conference enabled us to exchange information with other Arts Councils working in similar communities. We attended a variety of workshops that spoke specifically to collaborations and the important components to ensure their success. As well, we learned a great deal about other efforts and areas for funding opportunities and means of engaging members. Our recent get together for members of the South Simcoe Arts Council to meet in an informal session came from information sharing at the conference. We will try again in 2015 to bring our membership together to just talk, meet and share.
We continue to identify partners to work with us in the community. In 2014, the Town of New Tecumseth, through its Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture, asked if we would draft an arts policy for his consideration as part of our request for continued funding. The timeframe for response was very short. Through the extended Arts Council network in Ontario we were able to identify an existing policy and use it as the basis for a proposed preliminary Art Policy for New Tecumseth. We would have preferred more participation by members but it was not possible within the timeframe. A copy of the finished proposal has been included with your package today. Unfortunately, the Director is no longer with the Town and no further action has been taken. We would however like to have any input from members for the proposed policy so that we are ready when the request comes again..
With the review of the policies and procedures and the change in members of the Board, the new Board has put in place a standing committee for the purpose of ensuring a process for Board replacement. The Nominating Committee of the South Simcoe Arts Council now has terms of reference for the committee, an identified process for replacement, an interview process and a developed orientation for new Board members.
Your President is focusing on the development of further collaborations that speak directly to our vision of “Arts for All”. To meet the vision funding is always an issue. Building links and collaborations enables the Council to make the best use of its time and funds in meeting the needs of the members and the community. Promoting the Arts Council in the eyes of major funders is essential. To that end, the Art Council produced a package of information that has been distributed to the new local Councils for their information. The packages speak to the value of the arts at a national, provincial and local level. Most of the information was provided through the connections made at the conference attended.
In closing, I would like to recognize the superb support of my fellow Board members and the unfailing dedication of your Executive Director.
Adele Kostiak December 9, 2014