The Oshawa Art Association will formally launch their new pop up gallery space in the Holiday Inn downtown Oshawa on Tuesday June 13 2017. There will be art, there will be cake, there will be the usual suspects, there will be bureaucrats and there will be a lot of people, a lot of older people. The OAA has been around for 50 years and this is the first space they can call their own. Fifty years is a long time to be homeless but the OAA has found a home and some others too have a home to call their own.
There is a crowd of young entrepreneurs who call Oshawa home who are investing in the downtown to make it their own. These are the places I believe can turn the core around, with the right support. But Council is more willing to seek an American corporate brand than a local start-up. if its not GM then the Holiday Inn will fill in or Global Spectrum. Chase down a Yankee corporate restaurant and there is enough brand name recognition downtown to draw in the punters. Yah, no, the suburbanization of the downtown is exactly the wrong direction to go in. But thats our council, always wanting big global outsiders when small local insiders is where it’s really at.
But lets compromise and have both, in a balanced holistic manner however. This City could invest in the small as well as the tall, supporting Berry Hill, Isabella’s, Justice Burgers, Johnny Cuts, Jimmy Gauco’s, the Atria, the Moustache Club, Buster Rhino's, Riley's and others just like they support Global Spectrum and the Holiday Inn. There are many small businesses striving to thrive in the core and the help would be welcome.
Ironically I see hope in the area outside of the purview of the BIA and the city’s revitalization efforts. South of the core, success is happening in an area which has fostered cool independent thinking for decades. Within walking distance of each other there is the Brew Wizard’s Board Game Cafe, the Living Room Community Art Studio, Kop’s Records and Paraphernalia Books. There is Lisa and Jamie’s Upscale Garage Sale and of course Memorial Park and the Pepper Patch Community Garden. There is also the Car Museum and a stroll through the park will take you to the RMG and the McLaughlin Gallery. One could spend hours.
Issues, sure, problems, sure but also solutions, solutions sourced from the residents themselves. They grew there and they are surviving there. They are surviving in part because they are willing to put the work in to make it a better place for them and their kids, making art and growing gardens and populating streets. Here is where the city could step in and offer resources to help. It is here Council could develop the area in conjunction with the residents and small businesses investing in the area. But will they support independents, in youth, in small. My guess is no, after all it’s not something they are used to doing.
There will be many dignitaries I imagine at the launch of the OAA’s Gallery 67 Tuesday night celebrating and rightly so. I hope to see the self same faces out at the Living Room Community Art Studio’s Fundraiser Thursday June 15 at the Trent Campus on Thornton Road. Then and only then, when politicians support the grassroots, will we know culture and Culture Plans in particular, matter and the suits and shoulder pads really do get it, at last.