Cultural Plan finally gets going

At Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting on June 25, Council went into closed session to select the Steering committee for the Cultural Master Plan (see list below) and later approved awarding the contract for a consultant to MDB Insight for $64,890 (+HST).  The RFP for the plan is now available (see link below) so now we can get a good idea of what to expect.  Dean Hustwick said that there were 34 applications to sit on the steering committee which tells us that there is a lot of interest in the subject.  At least three key decisions have been deferred pending this plan: 1) What to do about the Park Theatre, if anything, 2) what to do with Dressler House now that there is no Town staff housed there and 3) what financial involvement should the Town have with cultural issues.  Because it will take 12 to 15 months to complete, any decisions or action will happen in the term of the next Council.

Park Theatre - in December 2016
Park Theatre – in December 2016

According to the RFP, the plan will directly address the third issue and will spell out the role that the Town has in culture – current and future. To do that, it will make operational and strategic recommendations to “stimulate community vitality, economic development and a healthy arts and culture sector”.  Hopefully the plan will indirectly resolve the other two issues; in the case of the Park, the question is “does Cobourg need a Theatre (like the Capitol) and should the Town get involved?”

Community Consultation

There will be meetings with stakeholders, staff and the public including 2 or 3 public meetings. The public will be informed with newsletters, web materials, posters, mail/hand-outs, explanatory briefs and other summary documentation.  At least one survey will be conducted (methodology not specified).

Listed stakeholders are: municipal staff, residents, arts and culture organizations, the Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA), Chamber of Commerce and the broader business community, public agencies, municipal advisory committees, past members of the Arts Council of Northumberland, and community interest groups.  Many of these are represented on the Steering committee.

The Consultants will have extensive community engagement to:

Gather Evidence on

  • Attitudes and perceptions within the general public related to the awareness, consumption and support for arts and culture;
  • Knowledge of the community’s existing cultural management and service provision;
  • An understanding of how culture contributes to the community’s vibrancy and economic success.

Develop Forums to allow stakeholders, agencies and the public

  • To articulate needs, opportunities and issues;
  • To identify strategic directions that are meaningful and practical.

In addition

  • Evaluate the strengths and gaps within the existing culture sector;
  • Assess Cobourg’s creative labour force and its contribution to the local economy. 

The idea is that community consultation will assess:

  • The community’s response to current program and service delivery;
  • Issues and needs within the arts and culture sector;
  • Opportunities for new initiatives that leverage cultural assets;
  • Priority “assets” both municipally owned and otherwise;
  • need and feasibility of municipal funding of arts and culture.

This will result in recommendations to provide

  • Strategies for increasing cultural participation, engagement and support;
  • Potential changes to the municipality’s program and service delivery;
  • New mechanisms for ensuring inclusivity, cross-sectoral engagement and future priority ­setting by the community.

Comparative Analysis
Recommendations will be compared to local and other relevant municipalities in Canada such as Northumberland County and adjacent municipalities. as well as potential partnership opportunities.

The final report to should be completed and presented to Council no later than the summer of 2019.

Steering Committee Members

At the regular Council meeting on July 3, the Cultural Master Plan Steering Committee members will be appointed as follows:

1. Catherine Richards Heritage Advisory Committee
2. Olinda Casimiro Art Gallery of Northumberland
3. Jack Boyagian Northumberland Players Community Theatre
4. Rick Miller Marie Dressler Foundation/ Vintage Film Festival
5. Starr Olsen Oriana Singers
6. Carol Anne Bell-Smith Northumberland Orchestra and Choir
7. Carol McCann Downtown Coalition Advisory Committee
8. Sheila McCoy Cobourg Art Club and Local Artist
9. Astrid Hudson Member at Large
10. Duane Schermerhorn Member at Large
11. Gail Rayment Member at Large
12. Nicole Beatty Member at Large

The confirmation of awarding the consultant’s contract to MDB Insight will also be at that meeting.


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Carol Hasek
7 July 2018 1:17 pm

As a professional artist, I find it perplexing that none of the people on this ‘cultural’ committee are professional artists. But I guess it follows that if the head of culture in Cobourg has absolutely no experience in the arts, he chooses people whose only experience is small-town volunteer boosterism. There was an opportunity, and it was lost.

John Draper
Reply to  Carol Hasek
7 July 2018 6:17 pm

Duane Schermerhorn’s partner is a professional artist.

Carol Hasek
Reply to  John Draper
7 July 2018 9:29 pm

And if my husband is a doctor, does that make me qualified to be a consultant on a medical committee? I don’t think so. And if my brother is the CEO of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, I don’t think the TSO will be calling me for advice. None of these people are or have been professional actors, dancers, musicians, visual artists. It makes a difference. Why was the professional arts community not consulted?

1 July 2018 12:15 pm

With out Prejudice

here is something Walter can do
Instead of just faulting the facts from home just walk down Trimaine st to Discover —
and talk to your Neighbours and local builders about the old Cobourg Star Building
find out about the Tree cutting with out a Arborist study being done is there a loop hole there ? , may be even ask who was there in person cutting the trees after hrs you will be surprised after 8 pm so By Law Enforcement can’t be reached . Search the Buyer its a Co search the Directors you can find them but you won’t find the Share holders . Then ask about the 9 yrs of tax arrears The towns not talking to the Neighbourhood .
This is Ontario Yours to Discover

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  perplexed
2 July 2018 11:27 am

Apparently, Council and Senior Staff don monks’ habits, enter the building at the night of a new moon, dance, chant and sacrifice a white chicken.
The monks’ habits, candles and the chicken are paid for out of the Holdco slush fund.
There you go!
Now, did you ever find out why you had sewage coming out of your drinking water taps last June?
May I quote your post?
“Now if I could only find out why we had dirty smelly , cloudy water coming out of the taps
May be a warning was in order ??
and no there is no agency monitoring the drinking water Just the Town employees
Feel good Cobourg ??”
Perplexed – Monday, 26 June 2017 in this blog.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
2 July 2018 12:27 pm

Perplexed’s weak whine is nothing compared to the gravity of the water problems of Khorramshahr, Iranian city of 125,000 souls.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Wally Keeler
2 July 2018 12:55 pm

Wally. there was no sewage in his taps. He lied.

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
3 July 2018 4:39 pm

I can certainly play you a recording with respect to the sewage and storm water
situation with comments from the appropriate authority I think you might be surprised !

Reply to  Wally Keeler
2 July 2018 4:28 pm

Are you seriously saying that someone who has received contaminated water from their kitchen tap should not complain because people on the other side of the world have no water at all? Or perhaps they should be grateful that the Cobourg police didn’t shoot them on King Street for lodging a complaint about it?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Tim
2 July 2018 4:45 pm

I am very grateful that the Cobourg police don’t shoot thirst-driven protesters in Cobourg. Protestors here are free to whine about their “dirty smelly , cloudy water” without govt retribution — try that in Iran. And they can whine and make accusations without presenting any supporting evidence, but then again, there is always the gullible. perplexed is free to seek redress of grievance, unlike dictatorshits. Poor widdle Cobourg perplexed has a number of resources at hand to alleviate his suffering, whereas the people in Iran have no such options.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
2 July 2018 8:15 pm

This isn’t the Isfahanblog or the Tehranblog, Wally, it’s the Cobourgblog. As for thirst-driven protestors, we haven’t had any here, so we really can’t say how they’d be dealt with. My advice to you would be: don’t be too grateful, too soon.
Perplexed makes a statement that the water in his kitchen tap was once foul-smelling and cloudy and this statement is met with disdain and ridicule by both you and Lawrence. He’s called a liar and a whiner. Since neither of you were in his kitchen when he turned on his tap that day, why are you so quick to disbelieve him? Why jump on him like a pack of jackals and then turn around and tell him how lucky he is that he’s got water at all and hasn’t been shot for complaining.
Iran is not my concern. I’m not a globalist. Iran is a sovereign state and it’s up to the Iranians to straighten out what’s crooked in Iran just as it’s up to Canadians to straighten out what’s crooked in Canada and there is a lot that’s crooked over here. There is a tyranny of political correctness in this country. For a lot of leftists, you have freedom of speech only if they like what you’re saying. Many invited conservative speakers — and I’m not talking about the Ku Klux Klan, I’m talking about reputable writers and heads of state — have been disgracefully silenced on Canadian campuses. You might better concern yourself with the erosion of freedom of speech in this country than with a handful of thirsty Iranians.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Tim
3 July 2018 9:05 am

There is no way that sewage or storm water can enter the drinking water system. They are completely separate.
And so are the sanitary sewer systems and the drinking water(taps, showers etc) systems in Perpy’s home.
Perpy reported his sewage drinking water to the Health Unit and wanted a “Boil Water Advisory”. They said he was the only one in Cobourg to have reported it. LUSI didn’t and nobody else did.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
3 July 2018 9:58 am

But Tim is gullible enough to believe the perplexed, getting all maudlin about it. also.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
3 July 2018 10:42 am

A new day, a new round of derision. I don’t know why Perplexed’s water was foul-smelling and cloudy but he was alarmed enough to contact the Health Unit, as everyone should when they feel there is something wrong with their water supply. Perplexed did the right thing and we should be thanking him for being conscientious. Here’s some reading for you. It’s not from Iran; it’s a little closer to home.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Tim
3 July 2018 11:10 am

Like your derision of Iranians that are so thirsty for water they are willling to face bullets. perplexed faced nothing lethal by comparison.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
3 July 2018 10:12 pm

Why is water in Iran an important issue for Cobourg residents?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Tim
3 July 2018 9:56 am

Tim commented, “You might better concern yourself with the erosion of freedom of speech in this country than with a handful of thirsty Iranians.

LOL. Obviously you have no idea what I have done in the service of free speech in this country and abroad. Check out for a starter. Followed by a brief sales job You can also read about my free speech activity in the final Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry Into Certain Activities of the RCMP under the chapter titled, The Keeler Incident. I also a wonderful record of smuggling literature, hard currency, music, art, dissident literature in and out and in between the commie countries during the Cold War. My father fought in WW2. He returned and |I was born into freedom. I got to enjoy freedom for free all my life. I never paid a price for it. I understood that freedom is never given; it is always taken. So I took the risk by smuggling in and out of dictatorshits. Because I love this:

Reply to  Wally Keeler
3 July 2018 11:32 am

Hey Wally, you have supplied links for your uTube hijnx but none for “The Keeler Incident” chapter. Was it in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd report for the McDonald Commission? So far, I can’t find it. I’m sure you’ve got it bookmarked somewhere, help a fellow out.
Tim, did you notice that over on the right hand side of Wally’s first link, he has been published several times using at least 2 pseudonyms? (One of them looks weirdly like a SIN number). Yet he and his sidekick Luedtke love to rail against anyone else who dare use one. Wonder what’s up with that?

John Draper
Reply to  Frenchy
3 July 2018 12:14 pm

Can we please end this “Off-topic” thread? This is about the Cultural plan.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
2 July 2018 8:55 pm

“extreme stretch”

Wally Keeler
Reply to  perplexed
2 July 2018 12:17 pm

find out about the Tree cutting with out a Arborist study being done is there a loop hole there ?

Was the tree on public property or private property? Is it required that the town arborist conduct a “study” of every tree that is to be cut or pruned. And what is the purpose of this so-called “study“? to ascertain whether it should be cut or not, regardless of the desire of the private property owner?

Walter L. Luedtke
1 July 2018 11:51 am

Well, well!
Mention the word ‘culture’ and it’s red meat for the Council haters.
Any of you folks running in the election, or even just writing under your real names?
Surprise me!
I for one am grateful to our friends and neighbors on Councils, past and present, who have made Cobourg one of the best places to live in Canada,

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
1 July 2018 12:45 pm

Thank you for that, Lawrence. Evidently Cobourg is the best place for you but you ought not to be so self-absorbed. Read Perplexed. Put away the pom poms and take a stroll down Tremaine Street as suggested. And there are a number of other streets in the centre of town that are equally familiar with the loving care of this Council. Get out and broaden your horizons.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Tim
1 July 2018 3:43 pm

You’re welcome, Mikey!
Looking over the complement of the Steering Committee, I am truly impressed.
Here is a group of people who, over the years, have laboured as volunteers in Cobourg’s cultural life.
That cultural scene is a vital, integral part of Cobourg’s quality of life which is second to none.
Thank you for your service!

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
1 July 2018 4:31 pm

Please, Lawrence, your vision is obscured by those pom poms you’re continually shaking in front of your face. You really must put them down to see clearly. I looked over the very same list of members of the Steering Committee and I’m far from impressed. No one from the Heritage Advisory Committee should take part since they’ve done such a disgraceful job at protecting the real heritage of this town. Numbers 2,3,4,5 and 6 are reasonable participants but what do the rest of the people on this list have to contribute to a serious discussion about culture? And, please don’t ask me to qualify that statement because I refuse to be unkind. I think the question that concerns most taxpayers is: are these people being paid?

John Draper
Reply to  Tim
1 July 2018 5:25 pm

It’s safe to say that nobody on this committee is getting paid by the Town.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  John Draper
1 July 2018 5:35 pm

That should answer the question that concerns most taxpayers and set their turbulent hearts at ease.

Carol Hasek
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
7 July 2018 5:21 pm

Not one of these ‘cultural’ committee members are professional artists. Yes, I’m sure they are all very nice, hard-working volunteers, and well-known in the community, but I would hazard a guess that no one on this list has ever made their living as an artist. Surely they could have chosen at least ONE professional artist?

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
3 July 2018 10:17 pm

The word “culture” is not offensive; wasting money on yet another consultant’s report is.

1 July 2018 10:11 am

It is interesting to note that the first 8 people on the Steering Com. represent organizations that will ask for Town Money for their self interests. More freebies…let the “arts” pay their own way. Cobourg…get back to basics.

1 July 2018 9:59 am

I can only imaging that the Burden to provide Parking ways heavy in the minds of the Owner of the Theater
owner and and the future he had planned for , it probably came as quite a surprise . I wonder if the town Circulated any of this info about giving away the Parking lot to the rest of the Business on King before they made the decision to do so.
I hope the Theater owner hasn’t spent money on consultants , plans and studies like the Town does

Wally Keeler
Reply to  perplexed
2 July 2018 2:37 pm

perplexed (condensed version) commented, “I can only imaging that … it probably came … I wonder if … I hope …

There you have it, a rock solid comment founded on facts.

1 July 2018 9:48 am

what’s the situation with the Park Theatre? Has the Commercial developer who purchased it in 2016 presented any development proposals- or is the town waiting for one before considering the heritage designation?

1 July 2018 9:47 am

Dead on again Tim ! The Dressler House fine — it belongs to the Tax Payers and some profitable use should be coming out of it . As a person ot the trades & consultant I know the The Park Theater Which is not a Heritage Building by the way — that the owner had plans for it , which he has been working on over the last yr . in fact we were there on Thurs. meeting with a couple of Trades finalizing cost estimates . Things were going well with the future of the Theater UNTIL THE TOWN QUIETLY GAVE AWAY THE ONLY PARKING LOT THAT SERVERCED THE THEATER , LAST WK BY THE POST OFFICE to a couple of local fellows that own the old Lake Shore Auto building . The price for the parking lot was far less than Market value for other similar sized parcels such as the S W corner of Division and Albert / Queen at $1,2 Mil less than 300 ft away yet it comes with the cost of demolishing & trucking the 2 existing buildings which will run another $75 to $100 K I expect the rest of the businesses and property owners are wondering what to do about this as well and how its going to affect future use and their values , If they are not they should be ! Contrary to local Folklore The present Theater owner is not receiving Vacancy tax relief nor did the owner before even though he applied many times . Now that the Parking lot is going , going, Gone — I suggested the owner apply forth with for Tax relief until a new Viable use for the theater can be developed .????????? that does not require parking for staff & employees ,… Read more »

Bill Thompson
Reply to  sandpiper
1 July 2018 10:15 am

Underground parking …..equates to possible Underwater parking ?I I wonder…

Bill Thompson
Reply to  sandpiper
1 July 2018 10:20 am

There is an election coming up…….put words into action….or otherwise just plan on the same old same old..

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  sandpiper
1 July 2018 11:55 am

Oh you are a consultant, Sandpiper?
Please tell us more about why hiring consultants is a wise use of tax money.

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
2 July 2018 9:49 am

Its not wise if they are not able or allowing the consultant to implement and successfully complete the task or problem of which they were retained . Many are paid upon a successful out come and viability . The town is also known for massaging these reports / studies before the public ever gets to see them.
The town I believe is hiring Consultants to cover their ass or achieve the results and opinions
that best suites their purposes and deflect responsibility and failure to issues that are not always what the Tax paying residents want or will be unhappy with .

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  sandpiper
2 July 2018 12:45 pm

Sources? Examples?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  sandpiper
2 July 2018 2:45 pm

sandpiper commented, “The town is also known for massaging these reports / studies before the public ever gets to see them.”

Reports and studies? Provide a single example of the so-called “massaging”. If you are going to make accusations against the Town of Cobourg in front of its citizens, then it is best to support the accusation with the example and with some prima facie, otherwise it is just a smearjob.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  sandpiper
2 July 2018 2:51 pm

sandpiper commented, “The town I believe is hiring Consultants to cover their ass or achieve the results and opinions that best suites their purposes and deflect responsibility and failure…

There you have it folks, a paranoid fantasy that earns thumbs up. LOL. Of course, sandpiper doesn’t have a shred of supporting evidence – but that’s not important; what is important, is that sandpiper BELIEVES it to be reality. LOL

1 July 2018 9:33 am

Here’s a thought lets have our councillors spend money like it their own, maybe it will put a stop to hiring consultants every time the there is a question and use our some of our capable staff already employed. A question that also may be asked how much money has been wasted over the current term on all these out of town consultants, so we can be told by strangers what we want and what would be good for us

1 July 2018 9:25 am

I’m curious. Why is municipal staff a “stakeholder” in the cultural plan? Surely staff’s only function is to do what the residents want.

1 July 2018 3:28 am

This is another appalling waste of taxpayers’ money! Is everybody in our municipal government certifiably insane? A town the size of Cobourg does not need to hire a consultant for $64,890 (+HST) to draw up a cultural plan. Read what we’re paying for – it’s all gobbledygook.
The key questions: what to do with the Park Theatre and Dressler House and what financial involvement the town should have with cultural issues have been deferred until we receive this cultural plan which, presumably, will enlighten us and make clear the cultural path we must follow. Sure. And, of course, the the stock phrases and jargon such as “inclusivity” are all there. Maybe we should build a giant Maypole every Spring that we could all dance around or perhaps we can collectively take up Morris dancing. Since this town is flushing $64,890 (+HST) down the toilet, there’s no money left to spend on cultural activities, which is just as well since the least talented and most aggressive usually elbow their way to the front of the queue anyway. The best thing the Council of this town could do for culture is to keep their noses out of it.

Old Sailor
Reply to  Tim
1 July 2018 9:01 am

Tim, without out wanting to open Pandora’s Box, I agree with you that a phrase like “inclusivity” have no place in this study’s mandate. What a good way to put residents on edge.

However, the Steering Committee does appear to be a good balanced group.

Reply to  Old Sailor
1 July 2018 12:09 pm

Hmmmm only two males is balanced?