By Will McGuirk
The hockey rink at the core of Oshawa is no longer called the GM Centre. Its called the Tribute Communities Centre and it is the idea of community which singer/actor and playwright, Sting says in an interview with Q’s Tom Power, is missing from economic theory.
Sting and the cast of The Last Ship came to the TTC on Thursday, Feb 14, to pay tribute to GM workers and the ongoing fight to have the corporation rethink their intention as announced to close the plant at the end of 2019. The lunch hour event was hosted by UNIFOR.
“The Last Ship” is inspired by the closing of shipyards in Sting’s hometown of Wallsend, UK, and that action’s devastating effects on the surrounding population, leaving thousands without work, without purpose and without community. The songs in the play have a distinctly Celtic feel, melding the choral range of Welsh miners with the resounding stomp of workers on the march. Hard work demands hard celebrations and the tunes rocked the stage, with foot stomping and cheering and a minimum backup of a piano and a guitar; “The Last Ship” sails along on the waves of a kitchen party.
At a press conference I asked Sting about the role the arts plays in the recovery of a community. He had left his town after working a variety of jobs, eventually becoming a singer with The Police and the Sting known around the world. His creativity enabled him to thrive outside the factory system but it is his creativity and his songs, which help people within the factory system to survive.
In response to the question Sting replied, “I think it should be a choice, whether or not to leave your community, to be an exile. Thats what I did, thats my choice but in this case there may not be a choice. If the industry shuts down, what do you do, where do you go? I don’t know the answer but you deserve a choice. You deserve to be looked after better by the company that you have supported. Its very simple. Its a social contract which should be observed You deserve to be treated better,”
Its something we at Slowcity.ca believe in too. We believe too the arts are part of the recovery for this city. The creative community is part of this, creativity will be required for this city as a whole to come with a new way of being, a new purpose, a new reality and the answer includes too all those slated to lose their jobs, should it come to that. T“The Last Ship” is the vessel for that message. The play is a salve for those all over who see stormy seas ahead but “The Last Ship” is also a sign of hope, of caring, of sharing the struggle.