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Signature events leave Prince Edward County Arts Council

Half of the Prince Edward County Arts Council’s (PECAC) signature events have left the umbrella organization.

The CLiC Photo Show is the third of the arts council’s six signature events to leave. The Prince Edward County Music Festival left PECAC earlier in 2016. The Prince Edward County Jazz Festival became independent last year with an agreement taking effect in January 2017. The arts council’s website now only boasts the Maker’s Hand event, Studio Tour and Art in the County.

Citing no room to negotiate new fees and rules, the nine-member CLiC Photo Show committee resigned en masse in December. Efforts to form a new committee have not been successful.

“Last fall PECAC told the CLiC committee that as of 2017, County entrants would be required to join PECAC as a condition of entry,” said Bert Jenkins, co-chair of the photography show for the past three years, with Margaret Liddon.

The photo show committee, he said, decided the $40 membership fee added on for County residents, and a $7 artists levy to entrants from outside the County were unreasonable. CLiC was told to levy the funds on its entry forms, raising the cost from $35 (2016 figure) to $75 for County entrants, and $42 for entrants who were not residents of the County.

“Despite attempts at negotiation, PECAC refused to budge and the CLiC committee considered neither the extra financial imposition, nor the resulting two-tier entry fee to be reasonable, said Jenkins.

At last year’s seventh annual show, there were 420 images submitted by 146 entrants. Jenkins notes about one-third of the entrants were based in the County with the remainder coming in from all over an eastern Ontario catchment area.

The juried competition attracted more than 2,000 visitors to its two-week summer show viewing submissions from photographers of all levels in three categories – Visible World Colour, Visible World Monochrome or Altered Reality and Emerging Photography (for students).

The CLiC committee did not consider attempting to run the show on their own, said Jenkins.

“We talked to Jazz and we were told that unless we had in-house legal and financial expertise we should not even remotelty consider it,” he said. “We attempted to find a home with the Quinte Arts Council but in essence, time was too short… The website was taken down in the last few weeks.”

PEC’s Jazz Festival, founded in 2000, took the past year and a half to became a charitable, not-for-profit.

“We had worked together with PECAC for 15 years and it was mutually agreed that it was appropriate for PECJF to operate on its own,” said John Puddy, festival president. “The board of directors of PECAC and the Jazz Committee came to a mutual recognition that it was appropriate for the PECJF to become a separate organization. We have appreciated the support that the PEC Arts Council has provided to us over the years.”

The PEC Music Festival’s season last September was its first on its own and plans are under way to continue for this fall. Contact was not made with the committee chair by publication time.

The arts council has declined comment pending an announcement “shortly” on new events, services and programs.

In November 2016, Sue Barclay, chair of the arts council, announced “new blood and a shift in focus” with the hiring of of the organization’s first executive director Janna Smith.

The 30-year-old group had surveyed the local arts community and noted in a press release that the organization’s role and relevance in the arts community was not well understood.

Its website currently lists about 100 artist members and nine business members.

“We heard that the arts council was perceived as under funded and disconnected and that people weren’t sure what the council’s purpose was,” said Barclay, in November. She also noted that contributing to the success of the County’s arts events has been PECAC’s strength, but going forward, it looks to focus on the organization’s impact and renewing its place in the community.

“We want people to know that we’re a resource that can help arts initiatives get off the ground,” she said, also noting the PECAC’s five-year strategic plan will place a priority on improved communication, community outreach and support for artists.

Filed Under: Arts & CultureLocal News

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  1. Bert Jenkins says:

    Marc, when we inherited CLiC from PECAC in 2013 it already had a catchment area covering eastern Ontario. If PECAC wanted to concentrate on the County then upping the ante for County photographers was not a good start. Besides, for many out-of-County photographers CLiC was one of their year’s highlights. They are missing it too, they’ve told us.

  2. Marc says:

    It makes sense to me that an event run by the Prince Edward County Arts Council should have mostly local artists, whereas Clic seemed to be made up mostly of artists from other areas. Art in The County has required membership in PECAC for a long time, and it makes for a much more County-centric event, to it’s benefit.

  3. Bert Jenkins says:

    Oh dear. “It is to be expected that some of the events would develop both the financial ability and the desire to move out from under the wing of the Arts Council. Thus, the Classical Music and Jazz festivals have “left the nest” and will continue to flourish as vibrant events…” Not quite: PECAC’s own financial policies forced out Jazz and the Music Festival.

  4. Dave Thomas says:

    How unfortunate that the PECAC’s strategic plan has resulted in the (hopefully temporary) demise of one of the County’s signature summer arts events. It may be time for a bit of a rethink of this strategy.

  5. PEC Arts Council says:

    Response to story from the PEC Arts Council:

    The Prince Edward County Arts Council is committed to promoting a vibrant arts community by acting as a catalyst for the creation and enjoyment of the arts, and to working collaboratively with those who share a common interest in leveraging the arts for the economic and social development of Prince Edward County. The six flagship events, while receiving support from PECAC, have contributed to the development of the Arts Council and its strategy through their participation as members of the Board of Directors.

    It is to be expected that some of the events would develop both the financial ability and the desire to move out from under the wing of the Arts Council. Thus, the Classical Music and Jazz festivals have “left the nest” and will continue to flourish as vibrant events for the County and its visitors to enjoy. PECAC is proud to have a role to play in their success.

    The Studio Tour, The Maker’s Hand and Art in the County are already in preparation for the 2017 season. It is hoped that these successful events will be joined by at least one new event this year as the call for proposals for a new summer event was announced earlier this week. The Arts Council is seeking proposals that will complement these established events. The incubation of new events is a part of the new strategic plan approved in 2016.

    This strategy was developed following a review of PECAC activity including a survey of our members, to augment support of the remaining flagship events with new events, a return to our artistic roots and to develop a focus on established and emerging artists. As part of this plan PECAC determined that there should be a level playing field for all of the events, in that County participants in such events should be members of PECAC, and non-County participants should pay a small levy. All Board members approved this approach, other than CLIC.

    This was part of a funding formula which would help PECAC to implement it’s Strategic Plan, which had been accepted by all events including CLIC. The complications noted by Bert Jenkins in setting up an independent show are the sorts of services that PECAC provides.

    Chair Sue Barclay said: “The flagship events will continue to be a priority in the future complemented by any new events that develop. The Arts Council also needs to have a broader range of services available to meet the needs of the artists whose work is showcased at the events. We can never emphasize enough that none of the events can run without their organizing committees and the legions of volunteers who turn out year after year to support them.”

    The Arts Council would welcome a return of CLiC in 2018 and is willing to work towards reestablishing an organizing committee. The current assets of the show have been preserved for future use.

    The Arts Council is continuing to roll out new services as part of its Strategic Plan with the next announcement detailing a new professional development programme for artists to supplement Learning Lunches for Artists which was launched in 2016 in partnership with the Baxter Centre.

  6. Chris says:

    The issue here is the Arts Council is forcing CLiC to charge County artists higher entrance fees than non County artists. The question is why? The other issue is the Arts Council forcing all artists to pay even higher fees; again, why?

  7. Emily says:

    @ Chris; the arts are a frill to many in our community. Many cannot afford a Regent Theater $40.00 ticket for a lot of arts. They need to make choices that start at home!

  8. Gary says:

    I agree that they add positively to quality of life however one must look after life needs at home first, which water definitely is. The affluent benefit most.

  9. Chris Keen says:

    @Gary – And what makes you think that members of the arts community aren’t also suffering from “crippling” water bills? The arts aren’t frills to most people but in fact contribute positively to their quality of life.

  10. Gary says:

    Quality of life priorities trump the artsy frills. When those are in place then one can pick and choose their gala of choice.

  11. Tobias Bond says:

    More water colours are the solution for Gary.

  12. Chris says:

    This is so sad. CLiC was my favourite County event….and, seriously Gary???

  13. Gary says:

    All I can say is the arts community are not helping the crippling water bills. Priorities matter!

  14. Artist says:

    Seems the entire committee for Maker’s Hand has now resigned “en-mass” as well…

  15. Dave Thomas says:

    As a participant in the CLiC Photo Show the past two years and as an attendee for several years prior, I am disappointed that this very fine photography competition will not be part of my summer in the County in 2017. The organizers of CLiC had grown the event very successfully, with the quality of the entries being consistently high. While I don’t know the reasons for the PECAC’s intransigence, there is clearly an issue, as the Arts are an important part of the County experience.

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