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The gift of the arts

By Lynda Shadbolt

Published Dec. 18 2018

Being human is a lot of work every single day. Compared to most of the world we live with so much abundance around us and yet we all struggle. We struggle for many reasons. The loss of a loved one. Family circumstances that aren’t what we expected. Our own or a loved one’s illness or chronic pain. Work environments that are toxic. Mental illness. Living in poverty. Loneliness. Concern for the world that we live in and what we are leaving for our children and what can we possibly do.

In the sixth century the Buddha acknowledged we will all suffer in life and we will all need to develop the tools to cope with what we are given. It is lifelong work. And because we are all different we need different coping strategies. And this is where life gives us so much.

I use many strategies for my own struggles including being in nature; practices like yoga qigong and meditation; several kinds of bodywork my family doctor my naturopath reading or being active by walking and skiing and canoeing etc. Some people play sports. Some sing in choirs. Some go to church and pray every day. Some need to see a counsellor or therapist. At times we all need opportunities to fill our hearts and perhaps give us a break from the struggle or hopefully shift the struggle with some new perspective of hope.

And so I am shocked by the provincial government’s decision to cut funding to the Ontario Arts Council. This council plays such a huge role in supporting artists to do their work and that in turn affects communities like ours with for example our DH3 committee’s work of bringing the Throw Down Collective to our Sculpture Forest to create the pieces they did last summer. Our community is known for our arts. People come here because of the college the Sculpture Forest the Highlands Summer Festival the Haliburton County Folk Society the Haliburton International Film Festival and all of our visual artists.

All of these artistic expressions make our lives so rich and give the people who attend hope connection beauty laughter delight and sometimes make us feel uncomfortable and ask hard questions. I think we are better perhaps even healthier people because of the arts.

So my hope for you this Christmas is that if you are going to spend money on a gift that you consider supporting our local artists by buying a piece of their work or attending one of their performances or making a donation to a local art project. And perhaps you might want to write Mr. Ford and let him know how much you value the arts.

I attended Those Other Movies last week and saw the Canadian film Noele en boite and it was so funny and delightful. It had the audience laughing out loud and that helps everyone in these shorter darker days of December! Before the movie a commercial was shown that was made by a store in England that is famous for making a creative commercial every Christmas. It is a true story about the power of a gift and how that gift inspired changed and influenced the life of a little boy and the world. Merry Christmas all.