Gallery offers opportunities
Published March 5, 2019
To the Editor,
I’m writing in regard to the Dysart Feb. 14 council budget meeting, in particular to address comments by Councillor John Smith as he questions the value of funding institutions such as the Rails End Gallery.
The gallery has been one of the focal points of the Haliburton people. For decades it has hosted a multitude of events, displays, and programs that have helped bind and solidify the community as a whole. It is part of Haliburton’s soul. When you think of Haliburton, one of the images that comes to mind is the gallery itself.
That’s why I’m writing this. I’m concerned about John’s short-sighted agenda. He seems to be riveted to improving his world and not improving the community as a whole. Roads to his residence are always a concern, and every year wear and tear create infuriating maintenance issues for him.
I do admire John’s tenacity. But he has an inadequate understanding of small town communities such as Haliburton. And that is, you need good institutions and facilities. These cost money. Are they important? Yes. Do we need to support them? Yes we do.
Community identity is important to a small town such as Haliburton. This identity is tied up in pride, caring, of a sense of belonging, culture and regional history. The kind that’s part of the pioneering spirit that still exists in Haliburton. That sense of knowing everyone and knowing that everyone knows you. That’s why the old train station was fixed up and converted into a gallery in the first place. It then became a community venue, a place for developing young minds and place for gathering – and a lot of pride went into that.
Now what’s the rationale, the objective if you like, of Dysart owning some of these properties? Simply put, they provide cultural value and purpose to a small community.
Think of my story, for example: I grew up a deaf kid in Haliburton before the doctors eventually fixed my hearing. Art was something that I was naturally good at and I could do well while I caught up to my peers in other subjects. I entered and won local art scholarships, and I gained pride, confidence and a sense of purpose when my art was displayed to the public in the Rails End Gallery. I gained experience there as a summer employee, then, thinking all that was pretty darned cool, I went to art college.
You see, I’m one of the beneficiaries of the Rails End Gallery’s existence, and programs housed and implemented by the staff and volunteers there.
The Rails End Gallery helped provide a foundation for my life. It helped with my development, my sense of self, and it was encouraging. The displays there by community artists helped me learn to be a better artist, a pretty good photographer, and a better person.
Eventually all this led to a rich career in art as a concept artist, designer and art director at companies such as Electronic Arts, Nintendo, DHX, SEGA, Real Networks, and SONY.
You see, with proper encouragement when we’re young, people like me go out into the world to do some pretty cool things, but they also tend to return to enrich Haliburton both practically and by example – to help the next generation of Haliburton kids!
So these longstanding Haliburton institutions add immense value to the local community, a fact that cannot be overstated!
Me? I’m now a designer at Microsoft.
The funny thing is, after John boots-up his computer he’ll likely be using some of the interface designs, photographs and movies that I created.
Isn’t that something…