Arts & Culture

Our creative voices are leading the way in societal change.

Culture Addresses the Sustainability Question

As artists we can use our voices to inspire change in others.

The arts and culture sector of Sustainable Orillia includes participants from many different practices. We hope to address topics related to artists working in many mediums: painters, drawers, sculptors, photographers, printmakers, performers, and others. What changes have they made to their individual practices to be more ‘green’? What ideas do they have for more change?
Leading the way
The acclaimed film Anthropocene: The Human Epoch is a perfect example of an artist using a medium to portray an urgent message. While the images may be hauntingly beautiful, the film encourages, demands an emotional response, which can lead to change in behaviour. As artists we can use our voices to inspire change in others. The arts often sound the alarm. In modern times the Vietnam War caused many a songwriter to respond. Who can forget John Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s Ohio? Environmental protest in song perhaps began with Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi (“paved Paradise and put up a parking lot”). The word on the page, too, has been a chief form of protest in fiction and non-fiction. Most pertinent to Sustainable Orillia’s mission, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, published in 1962, started the environmental movement. The arts and culture sector of Sustainable Orillia includes participants from many different practices. We hope to address topics related to artists working in many mediums: painters, drawers, sculptors, photographers, printmakers, performers, and others. What changes have they made to their individual practices to be more ‘green’? What ideas do they have for more change?
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small steps can have a ripple effect
We can discuss how to use our voices and mediums to strengthen the sustainability message. The arts invoke feelings; working together we can raise awareness. As artists we have ways of communicating that access a wide audience, and we need to take advantage of that. Every artist and artistic venue (be it a gallery, studio space or concert hall) hosting a cultural experience here in Orillia should be following the Mariposa Folk Festival’s lead, aiming to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions, and to inspire the community. It would be wonderful to discuss how arts and culture’s venues and businesses can ‘green’ up their establishments. Can an art show be made plastic free? Can we switch to all LED light bulbs in gallery spaces? Getting a group together to make changes that are easily attainable will be effective. This kind of action can ripple through a community and become trendy in the best kind of way.
Join us to help make Orillia more sustainable

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what difficulties the arts and culture sector in Orillia faces, because it is such a broad category. In general, there is a certain creative process one goes through to reach an end product, a process which can involve a lot of waste. The materials can sometimes be toxic and disposing of them can be difficult. More eco-friendly options can be cost-prohibitive. Since there is not a lot of access to art materials in Orillia, getting supplies often involves a trip to Barrie or Toronto—often a long solo trip in a vehicle.

There are many events in Orillia related to arts and culture, and, despite the best intentions, there can be a lot of waste—plastic cutlery, straws, and cups—even though there are good rental options for dishes, as well as compostable dishes. The last minute run for fast food and drinks can result in waste; it would be great to see major strides being made there. With awareness regarding waste and the state of the environment increasing, many artists have taken it upon themselves to make their work more environmentally friendly. Personally, in my own practice, switching to eco-friendly materials and ethically-made products has felt right. Switching to greener products can also prove to be healthier.

There may be no end to ideas that artists may come up with in pursuit of sustainability in Orillia. We’re calling on all artists to join us in our quest to make Orillia more sustainable.

We're Focusing On

  • Promote sustainability concepts and necessary behavioural change through arts: graphic and performance.
  • Participate in Sustainable Orillia Community Events.

Sector Chair – Gillian Lowry

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