By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
It was a night of both looking back at accomplishments and looking ahead to the future as members of Oshawa’s cultural community gathered inside the Arts Resource Centre for the third-annual Cultural Summit.
Organized by the City of Oshawa and the Cultural Leadership Team, the event highlighted local talents and the achievements the city’s cultural community made over the past year.
“For the longest time, we’ve been in the shadow of the City of Toronto, but we have great assets here,” said Mayor John Henry during his opening remarks to the crowd filling the theatre.
“It’s you that make the city so amazing. It doesn’t matter where you come from tonight, the fact that you’re all here and we’re gathered on an issue as important as culture in our communities…you’re making a difference in the community.
On the city’s end, Catherine Richards, the manager of culture and central recreation services, detailed the 40-plus events the city hosted throughout the year, including the Peony Festival, which saw over 6,000 people attend, Culture Squared, and Concerts in the Park. Oshawa also saw four new public art pieces installed in 2016, including the latest in front of city hall being a mural created from a partnership with Durham College.
Richards also detailed what is set to be a “blockbuster year” in 2017, with countless community organizations celebrating milestone anniversaries, including the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (50 years), Parkwood Estates (100 years) and Durham College (50 years), among others.
Providing the keynote speech, author Andrew F. Sullivan spoke of the importance of sharing stories that may have otherwise been left in the dark. The Oshawa native’s novel Waste is set in a highly fictionalized version of his hometown.
The event also included presentations from community partners at the Urban Art for Social Change Graffiti School and the Ontario Regiment Museum, who highlighted the augmented reality tours the museum is now offering. Jeremy Blowers, the museum’s executive director, detailed the new partnership, which has made them perhaps one of the first in the world to use such technology in a museum setting.
Attendees also viewed the premier of the upcoming feature film Masters of Romance, which was filmed in downtown Oshawa by Yolanda Beasley, who also stars in the film.