Saturday, September 20, 2014

‘Arts’ benefit brings community together

The “Heart of the Arts” benefit concert, auction, art exhibit, and market held last Thursday evening at Fort Frances High School was lauded by organizers as a success, highlighting the generosity displayed from all aspects of the community while bringing together people of diverse cultures and talents.
“We were really impressed by the generosity of so many people,” said co-organizer Wanda Botsford.

Many artists, artisans, performers, bakers, merchants, and community members offered up their time, talents, enthusiasm, and donations to make the event possible.
“Rainy River Future Development and FedNor helped out with the advertising costs,” explained Botsford.
“The entertainers donated their time and talents, and in many cases had to travel in at fair distance at their own expense,” she noted. “Community members donated a lot of baking and wonderful gifts.
“The local merchants were overwhelmingly generous with beautiful merchandise for the auction and penny table at a time when the local economy is slow,” she added.
“It’s support from our business community at events like this that is a good reminder that we can all thank them by shopping locally,” Botsford said.
“The heart of this town goes way beyond compassion, way beyond caring,” echoed co-organizer Sandra Allan.
“Whether it is raising funds for sickness, events, or a specific need, the businesses and the people of Fort Frances truly define a town with a big heart.”
Hosted in collaboration with the Sunset Country Métis, the Rainy River District Arts Collective, and the Fort Frances Museum, the event raised funds to help sustain the Métis Hall and provide some start-up funds for the RRAC.
The total amount of funds raised for the cause was unavailable as of press time.
“There is a misconception that the Métis Hall is government-funded, but it is not and it never has been,” stressed Clint Calder, president of Sunset Country Métis.
“It is run by volunteers,”
He added that because many of the programs there are philanthropic and cultural in nature, they do not necessarily generate revenue.
“As many community groups have found before us, like the KCs, the Elks, and the Ukrainian community, it’s not easy to sustain a hall,” Calder added.
He noted the reasons they wanted to raise funds to keep the Métis Hall running are because there are not many halls still operating in Fort Frances, it’s a wonderful gathering place for many community groups and events, and there some great programs that run out of the Métis Hall that benefit all of our surrounding communities, like the Healthy Living Food Box and the “Kids Being Kids” playgroup.
Thursday’s event also was meant to celebrate the diverse cultures of Fort Frances and the surrounding area, and provide people with an opportunity to share their talents with others.
“I like the local cultural diversity that was displayed,” enthused Botsford. “It makes me very proud to be a member of our community.
“If we can continue to support our entertainers, artists, and artisans, perhaps we can create some fun for locals and at the same time enhance the draw to our area for tourists,” she reasoned.
“The quality of the entertainment was nothing short of amazing,” raved Allan. “So much talent in this area—artists, singers, songwriters, crafters, bakers, and musicians.
“It is truly a gem of the north this area, and I feel very proud and privileged to be part of it.”
The event also brought together the three groups within the community, forming partnerships and bringing together collective strengths, ideas, and talents, noted museum curator and event co-organizer Sherry George.
“Together, we unite and strengthen our community and ultimately ensure our future,” she remarked.
Meanwhile Lindsay Hamilton of the Rainy River Arts Collective stressed the “Heart of the Arts” event “captured the vibrant pulse of the creative community in the area.
“I am grateful that the Sunset Country Metis for connecting with the Rainy River Arts Collective and for providing a forum to share the talent,” she voiced, adding the partnership has great potential for more events in the future.
Botsford said the inaugural event was well-attended and that the audience was quite attentive.
“It would have been nice to have filled the seats in the theatre, but perhaps we can do that next year if we listen to the feedback,” she added.
Organizers will meet next week to discuss the event and suggest ideas for next year.
Anyone with suggestions is asked to contact Botsford at wandabotsford@msn.com

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