Sustainable Orillia: The Arts and Culture Sector

Sustainable Orillia Arts and Culture Newsletter

Welcome to the Sustainable Orillia
Arts & Culture Newsletter

Once a month, SO Arts & Culture will be sending you tips on how you can make YOUR life in arts and culture, both at home and at the studio, just a little bit more sustainable! Remember, if you have great tip ideas, please send them along to for future newsletters!

It’s February! Happy Valentine’s Day!
And Happy Waste Management!
Orillia has won many awards for its waste management programs. But waste management only works if we all DO the work!
Do you have a proper waste station set up in your home, gallery, studio, or arts business? Here is a photo of what yours could look like:

The above picture is courtesy of the Green Team at St. Paul’s Centre, who have been working hard to make St. Paul’s as green as possible every day and during special events. Good job St. Paul’s Green Team!

Don’t forget to also set up an information sheet on what goes into which bin, so that your customers can help you get into the waste management mode! YOu can find all the info on what Orillia accepts, here:

If you have a smaller gallery, consider using smaller containers, and if you don’t have a large compost bin to take to the curb, maybe you can share with fellow gallery owners, OR take your small bag of compost home with you. 
There are lots of solutions and working together makes it all possible.

Please send us YOUR sustainable arts and culture tips, and/or pictures of you implementing some of our suggestions at your home, gallery, or other workplace, to
Thanks for reading!
The Sustainable Orillia
Arts and Culture Team

Culture Addresses the Sustainability Question

Culture Addresses the Sustainability Question

By Gillian Lowry – Special to SUNonline/Orillia


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?

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.

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. I’m interested to see what others suggest on May 25th. Perhaps a car pool group for material pickups? Perhaps an online group where we can share ideas and mentor each other on best practices? A weekly column in the local paper with tips? Maybe that it could all lead to a group show, yearly exhibitions, or performances. There really is no limit

Sustainable Orillia will have an art show at the May 25th event and we are currently accepting submissions for works of any medium related to climate change and/or the environment, Please email for more information if you are interested in submitting your work.