Editorial: Hub for the arts

It’s an amazing thing.

It may be something no one ever expected to happen here in placid South Dundas, but, it has. And, the news is definitely getting out.

South Dundas, over the last 12 or so years, has become a “go to” destination for lovers of the performing arts.

Upper Canada Playhouse, under the leadership of artistic director Donnie Bowes, backed by a volunteer board of directors and dozens of optimistic area residents, initiated a new direction for the arts in South Dundas. This group gradually transformed an empty toothbrush factory into a modern and distinctive theatre. Estimates suggest that the Playhouse now draws upwards of 45,000 visitors every season.

Internationally known stars like Norm Foster and Leisa Way are choosing to debut new productions through the Playhouse: that alone makes a statement about the artistic reputation of “our” theatre.

The St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage was also the dream of a small group of hard-working volunteers, who took a chance to bring new kinds of music to South Dundas. Despite operating on a shoestring budget in the beginning, over the past six years, the SLAS has provided an exciting venue for dozens of new and promising artists, particularly after the board found a welcoming home at the Playhouse.

And, the word has spread, through the Canada-wide artistic community, and among fans who love live music, from soul to country, blues to rock. This is a place to perform. Artists like Serena Ryder, Andy McKee, Ron Sexsmith and Bruce Cockburn have played our town: that is nothing short of phenomenal in the world of professional music.

This weekend, the Galop Canal Bluegrass Festival will be swinging the Point in Iroquois with 10 outstanding bands, including Hall of Famer, Nothin’ Fancy. Every year, this festival, supported by volunteers, has expanded. It now draws hundreds of fans to South Dundas.

There is also a thriving coffee house in town, The Tilted Steeple, and some phenomenal home concert venues locally.

And, this only touches on the “performing arts.” South Dundas is also home to noted visual artists, their shows and their studios, attracting art-loving visitors from far and wide to the area.

Let’s support South Dundas as a hub for the arts; after all, there’s nothing wrong with becoming a “go to” destination.