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Local groups unite in bid to make Orillia a 'cultural destination'

Collaboration will open opportunities to cross-market art and culture through partnerships with local venues, galleries, and businesses
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Effective Dec. 1, 2021, a collaborative agreement is in place between the Orillia Centre for Arts + Culture (“Orillia Centre”) and The Orillia & District Arts Council (ODAC) for the purpose of seeking a grant in support of art and culture in our city.

If the grant is approved, the resulting synergy will open new and expanded opportunities for local visual artists, arts groups, performance artists, music, dance, and other cultural players.

The collaboration will also test a new approach to building Orillia as a cultural destination. It will open opportunities to cross-market art and culture in the area through partnerships with local venues, galleries, businesses and continue to grow our relationship with the city of Orillia.

Orillia Centre for Arts + Culture and the Orillia & District Arts Council are registered charities that, along with many other organizations, have been significantly affected by COVID-19.  The COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years has curtailed normal operations of both organizations.

At the same time, the pandemic has shown us new ways to engage our public. The post-pandemic world offers opportunity for new and innovative approaches to arts and culture.

As the Orillia area emerges from the inertia of COVID-19 protocols, the time has come for a new approach to meeting the artistic and cultural needs of the district. There is opportunity for, and interest in, promoting Orillia as a diverse, vibrant arts and culture destination.

“While there have been alliances between organizations in the past, ultimate success across our myriad art and culture groups requires a long-term, concerted effort,” said Dennis Rizzo, Co-Chair of ODAC.

Kate Hilliard, Creative Director for Orillia Centre, notes, “With the cancellation of events and traditional fundraisers, major revenue streams disappeared for almost 18 months. To stabilize our programs and services, both organizations—if the grant is approved—have decided to work together for a common purpose with mutual benefits, accountability, responsibility, and shared decision-making.”

“This strategy will open greater potential for community involvement, collaborative events, and positive outcomes for the Orillia area,” noted Rizzo. “The intent is to work together as a focal point for future activity in order to bring in resources to share among the arts and culture community in Orillia.”

Goals of this alliance include:

  • Innovate quality programming to enrich people’s lives through arts, culture, and heritage
  • Continue support for marginalized populations to give space to diversity
  • Continue support for youth, emerging, and pioneering artists as they explore their talents
  • Engage new audiences and markets through networking and promotional activity
  • Explore combined business operations using digital technology to lower costs and increase efficiency, knowledge, and data sharing
  • Generate new revenue streams for long-term sustainability within a collaborative operations model

From its inception in 1999 ODAC has fostered collaboration among the arts and opportunities for emerging and young artists from all genres. ODAC has worked together with the Orillia Youth Centre, St. Paul’s Event Centre, and art galleries to promote and foster prospects for exposure and, importantly, paid activity.

Orillia has a strong community legacy going back to home-grown singer Gordon Lightfoot and artists Frank Carmichael and Arthur Shilling—and even back to the building--and rebuilding after a fire—of the Orillia Opera House.

Christine Hager, past Chair and current Board secretary, noted, “For over three years we have been steadily progressing towards our vision of a strong, united creative community working together to enhance culture in our area. This partnership is a solid step forward.”

The Orillia Centre for Arts + Culture has evolved to serve principles of equity and diversity and to ensure that our endeavours reflect this commitment. The Orillia Centre has in recent years established strong community partnerships with the Orillia Opera House, St. Paul’s Centre, Lakehead University and with the Chippewas of Rama First Nation.

Fred Larsen, Chair of the Orillia Centre Board noted, “From our inception, the goal of the Orillia Centre organization (formerly the Huronia Cultural Campus) was to bring economic and social benefit to the greater Orillia community through a focus on the arts—artistic creativity, development and presentation that would make Orillia a cultural destination. This collaboration with ODAC will provide us with the opportunity to explore how our activities, together with ODAC’s, can benefit the entire community in a variety of ways.”

Both organizations will share office space at Creative Nomad Studios, 23 Mississaga St. W. and look forward to serving the arts community in this new capacity. We are confident that together we will contribute to the rich history of art appreciation in the Orillia area.




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