Cultural Master Plan Buried

Whatever happened to the idea that Cobourg should encourage Culture – you know, visual and performing arts? In 2019 a consultant delivered a Cultural Master Plan to Council (see resources below) but it’s now buried – no direct link anywhere on the Town’s web site. When Dean Hustwick was hired in 2016, his title was Director of Parks and Recreation with the idea that his mandate would include Culture and Tourism. That Department is now called Community Services but Culture is not mentioned. The Strategic planning update in early 2021 downgraded the goal labelled “Consider Arts, Culture and Tourism Division” and the only time culture is mentioned is when citizens make a presentation to Council. If there are any Town staff working on Culture, they keep themselves hidden. One exception is the Art Gallery which has space in Victoria Hall – but they are not Town employees although they do get budget money.

Cultural Master Plan
Cultural Master Plan

If you read the plan (it seems few have), you’ll notice that “Heritage” is included as a “Cultural” thing and it’s apparent that the Town is pursuing Heritage – just not performing Arts.

To be fair, there are a lot of mentions of Culture on the Town’s web site but they talk about Venues (the Concert Hall and the Firehall theatre) and groups that are independent of the Town with (in some cases) miniscule funding via Community Grants. The Poet Laureate does get a small budget and a mention.

So can we conclude that the Cultural Master Plan simply means that Arts organizations get web site listings and some get tiny grants?

There were a lot of actions in the final Cultural Master Plan (see Resources below) but some stand out:

1.2 Establish a Cultural Advisory Committee of Council to advocate and support the implementation of the Cultural Master Plan. Include representation from business, education, the cultural sector and economic development – Community Services Division, CAO.
1.4 Prepare a feasibility assessment for building, operating and maintaining a Town-operated multi-purpose cultural facility, which includes performance and rehearsal space – Community Services Division.
4.1 Conduct an evaluation of the Town of Cobourg’s cultural grant program to determine the effectiveness of the current program and to identify opportunities to better meet the needs of the community, streamline the administration of the program and to include updated parameters (e.g. additional points for youth involvement) – Community Services Division and Economic Development.
4.1 Continue monitoring cultural funding programs and opportunities – Community Services Division.
4.3 Explore the potential of expanding the existing Downtown CIP to incent the use of existing vacant buildings and/or storefronts as temporary or pop-up space for artists and cultural groups. – Economic Development, Planning Department.
5.1 Support the growth of cultural tourism by providing cultural tourism content for Regional Tourism Organization 8 wayfinding, promotion and programming strategies.
6.2 Create a Town Volunteer Management Strategy – Community Services Division.

These are just a few of the 50 actions recommended – but I see little evidence that any of them have been done. The consultant also provided an “Action Plan Schedule” with some moved out as long as 5+ years but the majority were recommended to be done inside 2 years. These did not happen. Can we blame it on Covid-19 or understaffing? Maybe.

Resources

Reports on Cobourg News Blog

Town Of Cobourg Links

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Wally Keeler
1 January 2022 9:33 pm

How small governments composed of mediocre politicians regard art on private property as something to be removed or given to an art society or face $200 daily fines. This is the woke at work.

Oregon Business Owner Ordered to Remove American Flag Mural on Private Property – PJ Media

Florence Fletcher
20 December 2021 9:05 am

Cultural performance events, by numerous groups in this area, are very popular with audience members. Audience members from all over Ontario come to Cobourg to hear vocal groups. orchestral events, youth based events, dance recitals, theatre arts events, to see museum exhibits, art displays etc. one would think any member of council could see that Culture is very much alive and well in Cobourg and is heavily supported by the citizens of Cobourg. Why on earth would they then ignore their own study and choose to brush their high priced report under the rug!

It defies logic.

James
19 December 2021 10:22 am

It strikes me that it is more an issue of council than of staffing. If council truly had a vision for the town to grow and develop in a healthy way they would task staff to make it a priority. Instead we have Cannabis Shops popping up like dandelions in spring. I think this says a lot about our council. A healthy cultural foundation attracts high wage businesses. Given Cobourg’s proximity to Toronto – which is why we relocated our business here – there is such a great opportunity to create a vibrant economy and cultural community. We just need councillors with vision that sees beyond a quick hit cannabis economy and the lost industrial base of the past.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  James
2 January 2022 10:37 pm

James

Check your facts. Cannabis shops in Cobourg had nothing to do with Council. They were regarded as a legitimate business like any another and Council stayed out of the way.

The staged rollout of private shops, how many at each succeeding interval and in what location, was the work of the Ford Provincial Government. The regulations, written after many potential entrpreurs had signed leases, proved to be costly to the private sector and a waste of valuable capital.

Just another example of Fords’ shoot-from-the-hip style of governing. Remember the “buck-a-beer” promise.

Deciminalizaion of cannabis is a good thing. When the dust settles and competition takes its’ toll there will probably be no more than two shops in Cobourg and a decline in its’ use.

ben
18 December 2021 7:04 pm

“The consultant also provided an “Action Plan Schedule” with some moved out as long as 5+ years but the majority were recommended to be done inside 2 years. These did not happen. Can we blame it on Covid-19 or understaffing? Maybe.”

I would suggest that with the election of a few “Cobourg Taxpayers Association” sycophants being elected to Council it was only a matter of time that any civic activity that cannot be measured in dollars was doomed.

Perhaps next time around we can persuade the voters that those people on Council “Who know the price of everything and the value of nothing” should be voted out.

Last edited 9 months ago by ben
Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
18 December 2021 8:43 pm

Ben, Council just approved spending on many items of questionable value. Which items will residents value when they get their next tax bill?

warren
Reply to  ben
19 December 2021 8:42 am

I didn’t realize that Ben. Which CTA sycophant Councillors are you referring to?

sycophants

  1. a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage.

Synonyms: flunkey, toady, fawner, doormat, lickspittle

Wally Keeler
Reply to  warren
19 December 2021 10:10 am

Merriam-Webster puts it this way

Synonyms: apple-polisher, bootlicker, brownnoser, fawner, flunky, lickspittle, suck-up, toady.

Choose the Right Synonym for sycophant

PARASITE, SYCOPHANT, TOADY, LEECH, SPONGE mean a usually obsequious flatterer or self-seeker. 

PARASITE applies to one who clings to a person of wealth, power, or influence or is useless to society. a jet-setter with an entourage of parasites. 

SYCOPHANT adds to this a strong suggestion of fawning, flattery, or adulation. a powerful prince surrounded by sycophants. 

TOADY emphasizes the servility and snobbery of the self-seeker. cultivated leaders of society and became their toady. 

LEECH stresses persistence in clinging to or bleeding another for one’s own advantage. a leech living off his family and friends. 

SPONGE stresses the parasitic laziness, dependence, and opportunism of the cadger. a shiftless sponge, always looking for a handout

ben
Reply to  warren
19 December 2021 10:17 am

Which CTA sycophant Councillors are you referring to?”

Warren, so you admit there are some?

Frenchy
Reply to  ben
19 December 2021 10:23 am

Why play games Ben? You said they on council, name them.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
19 December 2021 12:12 pm

Exactly. Ben said “next time around we can persuade the voters.” Begin with persuasive accountability: support your assertion that there are CTA sycophant Councilors. Show ’em that you know what you are talking about. Be as persuasive as heck.

waren
Reply to  ben
19 December 2021 12:12 pm

You are slipping Ben – before I asked ‘Which Councillors?’, I wrote – “I didn’t realize that Ben.”

Wally Keeler
Reply to  ben
19 December 2021 9:45 am

Ben commented, “Perhaps next time around we can persuade the voters

The nail on the head, Ben. The CTA and their ilk have been persuasive with their notions, and it would be a benefit to the community if you and your ilk begin to persuade rigorously for your notions. The CTA argued against an inflatable playground off the beach, I opposed vigorously and lost to a liability argument. I look forward to your persuasions.

Bryan
Reply to  ben
19 December 2021 1:04 pm

Ben,

You wrote “….a few “Cobourg Taxpayers Association” sycophants being elected to Council it was only a matter of time that any civic activity that cannot be measured in dollars was doomed…”

By definition, few is more than two (couple), but less than five (several).
It takes 4 votes to pass anything at Council. Your assertion then, is that at least 4 councilors are beholden to the CTA. What a revelation!

All hail the almighty CTA, ruler of Cobourg.

I think it is your civic duty to expose this tragic democratic lapse.
Provide proof and name names.

Failure to do so is tantamount to admitting you slandered members of Council and the CTA and are blowing smoke.

Last edited 9 months ago by Bryan
ben
Reply to  Bryan
19 December 2021 1:59 pm

Bryan, perhaps in January when the nomination for Council opens up then we can be truthful and, in our opinions about those who want to be on Council, about what we think about members of Council. But until then you and I will just speculate, as we did in the past just who on Council are duds and who are beholden to groups and people.

Besides good luck on the slander thingy, I wrote it I didn’t say it; that is libel not slander, and good luck on suing on behalf of some of a maligned group!

Last edited 9 months ago by ben
Dubious
Reply to  ben
19 December 2021 2:40 pm

No need to wait and no need to speculate to find duds. Check the budget vote.

Frenchy
Reply to  Dubious
19 December 2021 3:26 pm

Yays or nays?

Frenchy
Reply to  ben
19 December 2021 3:29 pm

Why wait untill January, you said they were there now. Who are they? You still have that wishy washy politician style about you.

John Draper
Reply to  Frenchy
19 December 2021 3:43 pm

Be careful. I would delete a comment that is defamation (libel). It’s not defamation if you accuse someone of voting for or against a large budget. It is if you accuse them of undemocratic behaviour such as following instruction from an outside group such as the CTA. Considering their opinion would be OK. A tricky line in the sand. I’d say it’s best to avoid names in this case.

Bryan
Reply to  John Draper
19 December 2021 5:19 pm

John,

I agree that you have the right (and an obligation perhaps) to manage the content of your blog. I believe you do this with fairness and objectivity in most cases .

Ben made an unsupported, very speculative, scurrilous allegation. I think it is appropriate and fair game that Frenchy and others challenged Ben to “put up or shut up”. Without this, all manner of wild speculative comments could be made with impunity.

Last edited 9 months ago by Bryan
ben
Reply to  Bryan
19 December 2021 7:34 pm

And others have not made scurrilous comments about this present Council Bryan? But you get upset when I do it —- hmm; must have struck a nerve!

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
19 December 2021 10:10 pm

Probably not a nerve but the absurdity of claiming that most Councillors are beholden to the CTA. If they were, a budget with a 6.3% spending increase would never have been approved.

Johanne
Reply to  John Draper
21 December 2021 9:02 pm

John as a principle, we cannot blame anybody. Some have to do their job. But if we have to make budget cut backs where would we start? 🤮

From our hospital fundraising ? Cutting back from the needs of infra structure or culture and/or sports ? In time of pandemics if we want to keep our culture ☠ what can we ask for ?

A) more patrons;
B) higher fees to maintain sport/art from the participants;
C) create a live link for interest? (nobody used Cell phones in WWII 39-45);
D) practice music more often alone ,for individual development ; and create practice sections with same instrument, play different tunes as a section;
E) learn another language on line, find new art skills, convince our own friends to communicate through reading books as a club?
F)start a newspaper relating art news and courses, (sports if possible) like a university. They have 4 or 5 papers.
G)learn a new trade, métier or develop a creation, become an artisan. Let the Province or the Fed reward poetry or novels($) contests. Some prizes are huge. The Town could congratulate only afterwards and it should be for at least bilingual talents.

Discover peoples’ hidden talents is a strange experience and successful entrepreneurship appeared often during disaster zones. Knowledge and appreciation of life have to be part of our lives.

Finally the Christmas lights have attracted candle walkers and it is lovely in Victoria Park. It could have been ⚫. I don’t mind if we cut back the fireworks. In Europe, we use more and more digital fireworks it is artistically a huge spectacle. Less noise, a lot less expensive and animals are not stressed, ecologically friendly. It is a new world soon to become better, the clock is ticking.

Last edited 9 months ago by Johanne
Johanne
Reply to  Johanne
22 December 2021 10:31 am

Years ago I was asked to design a full foreign theatre summer workshop. I translated and designed this work for 50 plays. The board I was part of was so pleased, our actors were grade 11 and 12 students. They were a miracle! But nobody came! They agreed to repeat Romeo &Juliet and I suggested the park near the marina as a new summer location. I used to see it on the coast of Camden, Maine USA surrounded by crowds behind roses in their park. Nope again. Only Wayne Deveau remembered my roses and invitations to tall ships. He had the idea of beauty and generating income with arts.

They asked me to paint huge venitian backdrops for free. I did it but later I had to invest in my own family and life: I understood Stratford started very small. (So did the Beatles.) Our location is so much better from what I saw with my husband a man from Cobourg.
The Town lacked vision and couldn’t see the projected revenue. I was with Irish, French and Scottish talents: seamstress, theatre director, legal staff, finishing carpenters, other literature specialist and GENEROUS contributors but … we were not taken seriously.
Now we are falling under the no fun zone. 🙃 ask yourself why? Private sector could be better.

Last edited 9 months ago by Johanne
ben
Reply to  Frenchy
19 December 2021 5:19 pm

Frenchy, if you were around when I was a politician you would remember that there was nothing wishy-washy about my style. It was in your face, perhaps that why I only lasted nine years.

Frenchy
Reply to  ben
19 December 2021 5:31 pm

But now…

ben
Reply to  Frenchy
19 December 2021 7:33 pm

I am not a politician now!

Frenchy
Reply to  ben
19 December 2021 10:01 pm

So wishy washy it is.

ben
Reply to  Frenchy
20 December 2021 7:21 am

yep just just the rest of you on this board!

Johanne
Reply to  ben
22 December 2021 8:10 am

Interesting. Time spent on council is not a winner in my books. What about efficiency, open government, sharing information, keep a responsible budget ? Lots of very good arguments you presented Ben but no big changes were proposed.

But again the job of debating as a show is not thecreason people are elected take an oath. This is not boxing “for boys only” get your own ring. Women equipped with ideas were treated poorly. They tried to intimidate me with rotten eggs at the top of Victoria hall staircase, locked me out of the chambers (I heard them laughing ) while we were stalked by someone deranged, and so much more.. NO cell phone to call security back then.

I went to university for 5 more years after sitting with “the so called intelligentsia 🤣”. Etc.. You had to be born here, urinate in the same brooks (and not hold a degree from here or elsewhere) otherwise you’re dead. Women are never treated seriously on council. Merry Christmas !

Now let’s look at the amount of taxes homeowners ( and women proprietors as well) are paying, was it worth boxing? I remember the handicapped ♿parking fine as your contribution, it was very good to keep that spot ready for them.

We need some professional training (even summer contracts) that will lead to jobs. I did some approach for job creations. A government building needed relocation (like they have in Oshawa) but the mayor of the day replied :”we’re here!” I’m sure it was unanimous. This council showed me they had no real ambition but 🥊 kicking those born out of Town.

Last edited 9 months ago by Johanne
Bryan
Reply to  ben
19 December 2021 3:40 pm

Ben,

You are correct regarding slander and libel….my bad.
Slander refers to oral defamation and libel is written.
That doesn’t change what you have done….maligned members of Council and the CTA.

Your reply makes it clear that your were blowing smoke and have no evidence that any Council members are beholden to the CTA.

As for the duds on council, there is little need to speculate. As Dubious notes…check the budget vote. Their actions (and non-actions) speak clearly.

The municipal election nomination period is from may 2, 2022 to August 19, 2022. It does not start in January as you claimed.

ben
Reply to  Bryan
19 December 2021 5:21 pm

“That doesn’t change what you have done….maligned members of Council and the CTA.”

My bad Bryan; put me in the company of many others on this Board

ps.If I were running for Council you would know about it in January

Last edited 9 months ago by ben
Keith Oliver
Reply to  ben
2 January 2022 10:52 pm

Once again as in the responses to Bens’ provocative characterization of CTA members, the knives come out and the personal vendettas derail any prospect of a constructive exchange of opinions. I suggest we all grow up. I’m sure John would be pleased.

Leweez
18 December 2021 4:17 pm

More money wasted to appease a certain demographic.
All just lip service, what a waste

Ken Strauss
18 December 2021 1:31 pm

John, I agree with your criticisms but the Cultural Masterplan is still on the town website at https://www.cobourg.ca/en/town-hall/cultural-master-plan.aspx There is even a link to a PDF of the full report. Nothing seems to have been updated since 2019.

Looking further at the town’s website, priority projects such as a 2021 Leisure Guide and Cobourg’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Page appear to have put culture behind schedule.

Last edited 9 months ago by Ken Strauss
John Draper
Reply to  Ken Strauss
18 December 2021 2:41 pm

Well done in finding that – top marks in finding something that there is no navigation to! Irrespective, the fact that the goals are not being pursued is still true.