BY SAMANTHA BURNS
I would like to call your attention to a very serious problem facing the City of Greater Sudbury: the rapid demise of our arts scene.
Recent events, such as the eviction of Theatre Cambrian from Cambrian College, as well as the attempt to shut down Huntington?s undergraduate music program last year, prove this city underestimates how important the arts are to the community.
This is Theatre Cambrian?s first season without a home. As a longtime supporter, I was shocked to learn that after 20 years of putting on productions in Cambrian College?s amphitheatre, TC was no longer welcome to perform there.
There is no community arts centre in Sudbury, so Theatre Cambrian has no permanent place to put on shows. They currently have no choice but to rent out venues such as Fraser Auditorium and the Sheridan Auditorium, which are much too expensive for a non-profit community theatre company that is already severely lacking in financial support.
If Theatre Cambrian cannot find a permanent place to stay, it will not survive much longer.
The blame does not lie solely with the ?higher ups.? The public is not supporting the arts either. In the past few years, attendance of non-musical plays at TC has been so poor that they were forced to stop doing them and concentrate on musicals, which attract a greater crowd and keep the company from going under.
As wonderful as musicals are, our city needs a more diverse theatrical menu. We need the kind of plays that are both entertainment and great literature to enrich us and expand our minds.
According to the records of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Sudbury gets twice as much funding for sports and recreation as it does for the arts. We have many sports arenas, and yet, no arts centre and no music or concert hall. The Sudbury Symphony Orchestra plays in an auditorium that was not designed for concerts.
It is shameful for a city of our size to be so lacking. North Bay has a third of our population, but three times the arts community (and an arts centre).
It is no secret the majority of Sudbury?s creative young people leave the city because they feel there is nothing for them here. So the state of our arts community gets worse. It is a downward spiral that will continue if we do not support our arts community.
Here in the north we need the arts. We need the colour and warmth they bring to our cold winters. We need the people who make up the arts community ? artists, actors, musicians and dancers ? to stay in this city and to thrive here, because without them, we have no culture. And a city without culture is a dead city.
So what do we need to keep Sudbury alive? First, we need more funding from the community and from the government. We need more generous grants. But more importantly, we need community support and encouragement.
So I make a plea to every Sudburian: this weekend, instead of going to the movies, buy a ticket to a theatre production.
Samantha Burns lives in Sudbury.