Cobalt’s Symposium Committee Is More Connected Than You’d Think

Today, we introduced the SPARC network to the faces and names behind the 2018 SPARC symposium planning committee, based in Cobalt, Ontario. Without these active volunteers, we would never be able to organize such a large and complex event.

Similar to rural communities across Ontario, organizations often find their volunteers linked to many other projects and initiatives throughout their community. Looking at the symposium planning committee members, and the groups they represent, gives us some insight into the idea that a strong performance arts scene relies on networking ties throughout the community. To give you an idea of this community spirit, let’s look at a few of the arts related projects and organizations these individuals are involved with.

Village Noël Temiskaming, is an event very near and dear to the heart of Réjeanne Bélisle-Massie, who acts as co-president of its host francophone organization, Le Centre culturel ARTEM. This annual tourism event immerses the community in a New France themed Christmas Village that brings together the local French, First Nation, and English communities. With the help of costumed performers, fire pits in the streets, arts and crafts vendors, evening entertainment, old-fashioned games and contests, huts, drum circles, sleigh rides, and decorations that could make any environment look a couple hundred years older, this organization succeeds at uniting the community through the performing arts. ARTEM recognizes that the history, cultures, and industries that the Temiskaming area is built upon offer a lot to inspire performing arts initiatives and community events.

By connecting to local businesses, throughout the region on both sides of the provincial border, as well as volunteer organizations, clubs, and government sponsors, this organization encourages everyone to pool their resources and skills to keep the entire community at the heart of its endeavours. Just check out the sponsor list to see that diversity in outreach can sometimes be a great key tosuccess! ARTEM is known for its wonderful ability to collaborate and network, while ensuring strong representation of French Culture. Be sure to connect with them to learn more about uniting art with cultural outreach!

Similarly, Pied Piper Kidshows is another group that consistently encourages diversity and culture through their events and arts programming. The shared desire to host a spectrum of high-quality family-oriented touring productions is what has drawn five of the symposium committee members to this organization. The company regularly chooses to showcase performers that offer cultural diversity onstage, workshop learning opportunities throughout the community, and high-caliber performances that are engaging, exciting, and inclusive. This open-minded organization is thrilled to have partnerships with local businesses, community organizations, school boards, and government funders that support education, arts, and culture. It is through these connections that they are able to stretch their services across their entire community. Thinking outside the box, Pied Piper has collaborated with the New Liskeard Agricultural Society and The City of Temiskaming Shores to present art in new venues and outdoor spaces, offering performances that highlight the local industry and community spirit.


Their willingness to connect with a northern family presenter’s network across northern Ontario has also allowed them to stretch their budget to regularly offer a series of high-caliber acts. With the help of Network and Touring Coordinator Ceilidh Wood at Ontario Presents, they team with other presenters like Dryden Children’s Delight Series, Kids Kaleidoscope Entertainment Series in Sioux Lookout, Sunday Smiles Entertainment Series in Kenora, and Razzamataz Kids’ Shows in Haliburton, Kids and Company in Fort Frances, Atikokan Children’s Entertainment Series, Over the Rainbow Children’s Entertainment Series in Sault Ste. Marie, Kirkland Lake Family Entertaiment Series, Geraldton Children’s Entertainment Series, and Red lake Children’s Entertainment Series. Together, these groups coordinate their interests, booking schedules, and wallets, to ensure that each community gets the entertainment they want and deserve. Pied Piper is thrilled to have a network of support and hope others will contact Ceilidh, or reach out to them, if interested in learning more about this great presenter’s network.

Meanwhile in the world of film, Good Gauley Productions is always keen to collaborate on various community events and programs. Bringing video and film expertise to every project, Drew Gauley’s company regularly supports initiatives that engage the community through co-productions, and education opportunities. Teaming with The Temiskaming Screening Room , March break film camps were created to allow local youth to capture their own stories on film. This positive environment for creative film development was the precursor that made Temiskaming an ideal area to host one of the new northern Digital Creator Labs , which gives youth year-long access to film equipment and education.

The Screening room has also been responsible for ensuring that local film enthusiasts witness a range of edgy, independent, avant-garde, local and Canadian content, that would not otherwise be made available to them through Hollywood dominated cinema programming. It is through this shared desire to collaborate, support independent Canadian filmmakers, and offer educational resources to future generations, that film has become more accessible locally.

Cross-disciplinary collaboration also happens often in this region, as this symposium planning committee can attest to. Most recently, Roger Sumnar, Pied Piper, and Good Gauley Productions collaborated with the Temiskaming RockWalk Park and Lake Temiskaming Rift Valley Aspiring UNESCO Geopark to offer live entertainment and educational film outreach to help support geological tourism and job-creating opportunities in the region. These local performance groups recognize that supporting the growth of local initiatives often help the arts to flourish in kind.

It takes many hands to make a community thrive. It is the dedication of volunteers, an eagerness to collaborate, and a willingness to cross-promote, that ensures our communities grow together. We hope that you will reach out to some of these groups, or similar organizations in your community, to discover how you might work together in the future. There are so many skilled people in your community, across a range of industries and backgrounds. This means there are a million different ways to support each other! The first step to begin the process is to network – you’ll be inspired when you see it grow!

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