Pictou County’s got talent – and one thing for certain from every corner of our county and all points in between, our arts, culture and creative community is well represented.
We have a multitude of individuals, groups, organizations and venues that entertain, inspire and employ our local citizens in the arts, culture and creative industry. Some participate for the sheer joy of their chosen expression, and some try to make a living balancing their passion with paying the bills.
In our world of Pictou County we are so influenced by arts and culture that sometimes we take it for granted that it is all around us on a daily basis. One only has to tune in our own local radio station, or grasp or go online to read our local daily or weekly newspapers for enlightenment, current information and entertainment. We can visit many town and country venues for live and stage performances. We can visit our libraries, museums or galleries to appreciate the creative work of others or indulge in our cultural past. Our county festivals, events and celebrations abound year round for our enjoyment, pride and expression. All are parts of the growing arts, culture and creative industry.
We in Pictou County like to be entertained, we like to relax and enjoy whatever encourages or tests our emotions and senses. Songs are written and sung to “sooth the savage beast” or “conjure the rage within us.” We read to learn, unwind and enjoy and authors, columnists and reporters write to inform, explain and enlighten. We play video games designed by artists, animators and technicians for our personal pleasure and intellectual challenge. We dance to music to express ourselves. Most are thrilled when we hear or see our own Pictou County arts and culture celebrities share the national spotlight and have the sense and pride to promote “where they came from.”
This past spring the Town of New Glasgow took the initiative to organize the Pictou County arts, culture and creative sector. A group of about 30 individuals and groups met at Glasgow Square to discuss the possibilities. Susan Jefferies from the Nova Scotia Dept. of Communities, Heritage and Culture made presentations and led the group in open discussions about the benefits of organizing as one arts and culture unit. Many communities throughout Pictou County were represented as well as a cross-section of various arts and culture disciplines, with each agreeing that something has to be done to improve this creative industry in our county. Eventually an interim steering committee was formed and the name Creative Pictou County adopted.
At a recent meeting with interim chair Denise Lynch a few questions were posed regarding the development and future of Creative Pictou County. One of the first items Denise presented was an early vision of what direction Creative Pictou County is trying to establish: “A united voice for promoting and supporting arts and artists in Pictou County. This is not our mission statement yet” explained Ms. Lynch, “we will let the members define why we exist and develop goals and objectives through consultation.”
The group is hoping to represent all disciplines and stakeholders in the arts and culture sector and represent all geographic areas of the county. One of the first projects Creative Pictou County initiated was to nominate the entire Pictou County for a Community Arts and Culture Award presented annually by Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council.
In 2012, a database of the Pictou County arts and culture sector was started containing approximately 130 names of individuals, groups, venues and supporters of the arts and culture community. This year the list has increased by another 120 names and is growing each day. “Cultural mapping” is the new buzzword for gathering data for this sector of our Pictou County economy. Creating an accessible list for the public, private business and all governments will help sustain and grow our economy. These entities will have an opportunity to see what the arts, culture and creative sector has to offer in Pictou County. We hope that the list would encourage a “buy local” theme and give our resident arts, culture and creative industry sector an opportunity to secure or bid on work.
While preparing this article contact was made to the Nova Scotia Deptartment of Communities, Heritage and Culture, and Peggy Tibbo-Cameron, director of research and government relations and member of the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council, and I discussed in length the arts, culture and creative industries in Nova Scotia and other areas of Canada. Ms. Tibbo Cameron stated “We are very pleased that Pictou County is organizing and are very impressed with cultural mapping numbers. She also stated “The department is exploring a statics project with its partners to provide a better picture of the cultural sector in Nova Scotia.”
The arts, culture and creative community in Pictou County has certainly “Got Talent” and we as citizens must appreciate and support the effort that these local individuals, groups, organizations and venues offer to make this county a better place to live.
- Submitted by John Ashton is self-employed local graphic artist, author and columnist. Ashton Creative Design is located in Bridgeville, Pictou County.