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Crafts Cutback

Provincial government to eliminate funding to PEI Crafts Council

by Charles Mandel

Nancy Hunt expects less income from her crafts this year. The fabric artist, who lives on the Dixon Road, says recent news of government cuts to the PEI Craft Council is bound to have an impact on her bottom line.

Hunt is one of a number of artisans who have taken advantage of the provincial government’s winter financing loan program, designed to help craftspeople produce work over the lean winter months for the coming summer.

But now Hunt, who like many Island artisans sells her work through the council’s Victoria Row shop in Charlottetown, worries an additional five per cent consignment fee (which the council is considering adding to help offset its operating grant loss) could effect her ability to repay her loan.

Hunt says if the government is intent on treating Island artisans like business people, then it shouldn’t have suddenly cut the council’s budget. She points out the grant cut has had a direct effect on her business plan, throwing her figures for projected income out of whack. “They’ve taken away from the ability to make a good, sound decision for my business,” Hunt says.

“I’m very concerned about how this is going to play out.”

Hunt’s not alone with her worries. The news of the reduced funding to the council has thrown PEI’s craft industry in turmoil.

Because of provincial government funding cuts, Prince Edward Island may become the only Canadian province without a craft council while a new state-of-the-art craft centre planned for the island is on hold.

In mid-March, PEI Business Development Inc. turned down the PEI Craft Council’s request for a $65,700 operating grant. Instead, the council received $20,000 along with a letter saying that the money is also the last grant PEIBDI will give the council.

Mike Currie, PEI’s Development and Technology Minister whose department administers PEIBDI, stated in a news release that the province plans to treat the Island’s craft industry as a business and to support it that way.

“Support for the craft industry will change to emphasize support for individual craft businesses and promotional opportunities for the craft industry,” the release stated.

Currently, PEIBDI provides support for the Buyer’s Market, which matches craft and giftware producers with retailers every spring; the Studio Tour, which attracts visitors to craft shops and studios in the fall; and gives assistance to artisans to travel to Halifax’s annual Atlantic Craft Trade Show.

Barb Boss, the council’s executive director, says the council is the industry’s framework. She says artisans rely on the council for marketing, research and development and advice on technical skills. “We’re really the first stop when folks are thinking about a career in craft. Without the council, both the level and quantity of quality crafts will decline.”

The shortfall in funding means the council has already slashed staff and programs. An administrative assistant has been lot go and the remaining full-time staff are taking a five per cent wage cut and losing the council’s pension contribution. As well, paid sick days have been reduced and the council eliminated its newsletter.

More crucially, says Boss, in a matter of months the council may have to shut down if it’s not able to access funding.

Also on hold are plans for a new craft centre, which would cost slightly more than a million dollars. With the assistance of ACOA, the council had prepared a business plan, proposing the centre. The centre would act like an incubator for newly graduated students, allowing them to work on the Island and build up a body of crafts before going out on their own. In addition to studio space, the centre would also include a library, room for an artist-in-residence, a gallery and meeting rooms.

While the council’s store grossed $252,000 in 2004/05, the shop operates on a separate budget from the council and, in fact, the store’s gross take is down from $302,000 the previous fiscal year and $371,000 the year before that.

Although the shop has transferred money to the council previously, not a lot is left once the store pays out consignment fees to the some 100 artisans who sell their work through the outlet. As well, the remainder of the money goes to wages, building rent, heat, lights, phone, supplies and other overhead.

Established in 1965, the council currently represent some 300 artisans. The province says about 1,000 full-and-part-time craftspeople operate on the island, however, Boss disputes that number. She says the government lumps giftware manufacturers in with craft artists while the two types of producers are very different.

Giftware tends to be more commercial and mass-produced, while hand-crafted work requires more specialized training and technical and design skills, Boss says. She characterizes giftware as items such as “mass-produced dog biscuits and potato chips with lobsters on the front, and adds, “all of those things have their place, but it’s not what the craft council is all about.”

Christine Stanley, a fibre artist who with her husband runs Stanley Pottery and Weaving in Breadalbane, says artisans choose a lifestyle of making one-of-a-kind items for the public.

“When you choose the lifestyle of a craftsman, you choose a different sort of lifestyle without security,” Stanley says. “We don’t get welfare. We don’t get EI. We don’t have workman’s compensation.”

She points out that given the amount of money crafts pour into the provincial economy—the government estimates the industry is worth $20-million annually—the council is asking for a small amount of money for support.

Stanley notes that the province wants to treat the council like a business, but “the first thing everybody said was, ‘What about the money they put down the tubes in Polar Foods?’”

The province lost $31 million backing Polar with loan guarantees.

For her part, Boss points out the other Atlantic provincial craft councils all receive some funding support from their provincial governments. Nova Scotia, for instance, accesses a $61,000 operating grant as well as an additional $70,000 for project funding and a further $15,000 for rental and equipment rental costs.

Back on the Dixon Road, Nancy Hunt says she’s concerned the province’s plans to treat artisans like a business. "They're not all businesses in the normal sense. It's kind of a different thing. Most of us work at home,'' she says, adding: “It's very important we have this craft council functioning fully.”

How Do I Do It?

A Producer's Point of View

by J. Randall Wedge

J. Randall Wedge, manager of The Harbourfront Jubilee Theatre in Summerside, is smiling now. All that is left to do is fill those empty seats this summer.

You hang up the phone, frozen in place, hardly believing it. After three summers of renting your facility to an outside production company for your mainstage show, the reins of producer have just been placed back in your hands to create your very own season once again. Excitement turns to panic as you realize it's already March (wasn't it September just yesterday?) and you've only got four months to make this happen.

Your mind is a blur-images flash through it-sponsorship contracts phone calls emails voice mail messages faxed guarantees splits offers deposits tech riders hospitality accommodations staffing motorcoach & tour buses. Where do your start!

My ten-step process begins.
Step one-What are our local clients saying? What do they want to see? Answer variety. That I can do.
Step two-Gather staff supervisors for suggestions, ideas, brainstorming sessions. Assemble your production team. Create a season image.
Step three-Compile a contact list of possible entertainers and agents/management companies.
Oh my God...Funding! Where is the "up-front" money coming from? Seek out programs, grants, sponsorship-email email email browse browse browse apply apply apply. Prepare a proposed budget.
Step four-Confirm with your board of directors that you have approval to continue as planned.
Step seven-Finalize all offers and contracts, dot all "i"s and cross all "t"s hopefully.
Step eight-Establish your event vision and image for your marketing plan/advertisement campaign. Where to begin? Ad cards print ads posters radio TV press releases dinner & theatre packages interviews mailing list database update website in-house programs
Step nine-Release your season to the general public. Hire additional staff as required and as budget allows.
Step ten-Relax No Way! Sell! Sell! Sell! Stay on budget! A producer's job is never finished!

My words:
The process for the mounting of a production or a season is extremely time consuming and detail oriented. With most not-for-profit organizations you are dealing with limited funding and staffing. This puts a lot more on the plate of the producer because you can't dish off some of the minor details to someone else. The bottom line is what a producer deals with daily. The bottom line of finding money, negotiating money, spending money, and balancing money to stay on budget (hopefully to break even or to make a few dollars for facility upgrades). What's enjoyable in all of this is the anticipation of what the final product will be; the creation of art and entertainment with the goal of having content/happy patrons, content/happy entertainers/performers, and content/happy staff.
Well, I've rambled on enough for now. I would like to close with wishing all producers and everyone in the entertainment business success in their upcoming seasons. I would also like to say a special thanks to my staff, especially Mary and Maurice for their consistent hard work and dedication in helping me put together our Summer on the Waterfront Festival, (hey, what do you mean I can't advertise my festival in this article?) I guess I will always be producing something. Lawn bowling anyone?

Sans Doute

Organizers declare first Festival acadien de Charlottetown a success

Review by Monique Lafontaine

Jammin' at the Acadian Kitchen Party. Photo by Gilles GagnéCharlottetown was definitely the place to be on PEI the weekend of May 17 to 19. And what a weekend! If there were ever any doubts in the minds of the organizing committee, they are long gone. Months of planning paid off. From the official opening at the Carrefour de l'Isle-Saint-Jean during which local performers such as Réal Pelletier and Melissa Gallant entertained the public and the opening of the art exhibition, to the first evening with the Glamour Puss Blues Band at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, the mood was set and people were ready for more.

On Saturday, despite the not so warm weather, people came in good numbers at Peake's Quay and in even greater numbers in the evening to listen to Lennie Gallant on the Mainstage of the Confederation Centre. Much to the delight of the audience, Lennie sang some of his most popular songs along with more recent ones which will be featured on his upcoming French CD. That night again, the Glamour Puss Blues Band was on stage at the Studio Theatre, in front of a full house.

One of the highlights of the Festival was the Acadian Kitchen Party that was held at the Carrefour on Sunday afternoon. About half an hour before show time, the place was packed and the public was treated to some 30 musicians and step dancers from all over the Maritimes, including the Magdalen Islands, and to some surprise guests like Lennie Gallant who sang a number of songs with Johnny Comeau, as well as friends of the Acadian community like Roy Johnstone.

As the public was told many times during the course of the weekend, "Yes, there is an Acadian community in Charlottetown, and it's very well alive!"

This was a first and the organizers are inviting you all for the second edition of the Charlottetown Acadian Festival, in 2003, during the Victoria Day weekend. See you next year!


Dave Matthews Live

Maritimers Trek to Massachusetts

by Tara Currie

Seeing a Dave Matthews Band concert is less like attending a live show and more like being part of a pilgrimage. Only these pilgrims are, for the most part, hyper twenty-somethings wearing Abercrombie and Fitch.

Thankfully, I was lucky enough to be a part of one such pilgrimage…er…concert, this summer when the Virginia band played one of its two sold-out shows at Foxboro Stadium in Massachusetts.

The loyalty of Dave Matthews Band fans is legendary as Dave-heads routinely travel hundreds of kilometres to watch their musical icons perform.

My boyfriend and I were two of the over 50,000 sweaty, obsessive fans who traveled from all over that hot summer day to experience all this unique band has to offer. I personally know about twenty Maritimers who made the same trek to Foxboro. And I'd be willing to bet few were disappointed. Despite the wilting 92 degree heat Matthews and company put on a show to remember.

The Dave Matthews Band is made up of lead singer/guitarist Dave Matthews, drummer Carter Beauford, violinist Boyd Tinsley, bassist Stefan Lessard and saxophonist Leroi Moore.

At the Foxboro show, the band's repertoire included almost all the songs off their latest disc, entitled Everyday. Some Dave Matthews Band fans have criticized the band for treading too deep into the (mostly) shallow waters of pop music on this latest CD. However, you wouldn't know it from the Foxboro crowd.

From the opening post-apocalyptic Everyday tune "When The World Ends" to its radio-friendly hit "I Did It," the band enchanted its fans with the new songs. So much so, the aisles of the stadium were overflowing with dancing and swaying attendees.

To the delight of many, myself included, the band also showcased older material like the energetic "Two Step" and the beautiful "Satellite." They also covered material like Willie Nelson's "Funny How Time Slips Away." One of the reasons the band's music is so popular is that its sound is extremely difficult to define and, as such, there's something for almost everyone to like. It can best be described as a fusion of almost every genre of music-from jazz, to folk, to what can only be described as power-pop.

The fact that Mathews' current tour has been described by many music publications as the summer's "hottest ticket" might surprise some considering the band has had few mainstream hits. However, DMB's followers know his music so well that, like a Grateful Dead throng, they can reprise his songs as if they were all Top 40 hits.

Quilts and Abstracts

by Julie Dowling

1930s schoolhouse design from Kentucky

The Pilar Shephard Art Gallery is currently devoting a whole room to antique quilts. Those who know quilt designs will be delighted to see the variety of quilts on display at the Pilar Shephard Art Gallery.

The rare Schoolhouse design, French Baskets, Bull's Eye, and Fan are some of the intricate designs in the collections. Nearly all quilts are c. 1910 and beautifully executed and stitched.

One quilt, French Baskets, is museum quality, having been deaquisitioned from the Los Angeles Art Gallery. The Bull's Eye has over 5,500 pieces , the material hand dyed with vegetable dyes of orange and brown. The Clamshell quilt was hand pieced and quilted by Jennifer Loens of Montague, PEI.

The Fan is a beautiful graphic design and extremely rare. According to my information, this design was the first to be designated as a collectible design. A favourite for many is the Postage Stamp quilt from Missouri. It is made from one inch squares using orange and black to set off the suggestion of many trips around the world.

The domestic arts of weaving, quilting and hooking have been firmly entrenched in families for centuries. They are associated with warmth and comfort, with births and death, with weddings and new households. Yet the artists who created these treasures remain virtually anonymous. Since women have traditionally created within the domestic sphere, their exclusion from art history has rendered them invisible and their artistic creations have been largely ignored in the art world.

Post Hibernation


by Corena Hughes

It's been a long wintry season of inactivity for some of us but ideas of returning to fitness are beginning to enter our daily thoughts. When spring arrives we feel a sense of dusting ourselves off and tuning our bodies up. Where and how to begin are sometimes stumbling blocks that prolong our hibernation. The following guidelines are suggested to help turn-off that re-run of The West Wing or Will and Grace and get out and get active.

#1-Don't do too much too soon or too fast No matter what your age the most susceptible time for injury is in the first month of starting a new form of exercise. Take it easy. Be sure to take rest days regularly and allow for time to stretch those newly taxed muscles directly following the exercise . Gradually increase your level of exertion remembering to exercise through annoyance but not through pain. Some days it will feel good, some days it will feel awful, listen to your body and don't try to do it all in the first month.

#2-Choose a goal and stick to it Everyone has different interests when it comes to fitness and exercise. Yours might be running a 10 km race in September, hiking in the Cape Breton Highlands during your summer vacation or cycling PEI's Confederation Trail. If gardening is your interest perhaps expanding your yard planting more varieties. If learning a new activity is your goal try one that has intrigued you in the past. Whether it be a goal of distance or personal conquering, pick something that you have to work towards and commit to it. Write your goal down and read it over from time to time. Enjoy the smaller triumphs you'll achieve along the path to your big goal like increased energy and strength, improved confidence, and the knowledge that you're getting closer to the actual goal. Realizing your goal will be full of rewards but the road to achieving it will be just as satisfying.

#3-Be consistent This rule is probably the most challenging. Being compliant with fitness takes planning and strategy. Some people keep a log, others have an exercise partner, others pick a certain time of day that they always set aside for fitness. Try to have positive thoughts that you can focus on while you're preparing for your bout of exercise ie. how great you will feel when you have finished. Don't fall into the habit of being a weekend warrior. Now that you have decided to spring into action don't wait for the perfect weather each day. Don't allow the changing weather patterns to determine what you will do on what days. Just dress for the weather and get out and enjoy it.

Getting back into fitness now that the hibernation is over will be fun. Apply some of these simple guidelines and think positively.

Corena Hughes is a Certified Personal Trainer and Physiotherapist at Cornwall Physiotherapy and Sports Rehabilitation.

Paddling Along

Outside Expeditions

by Thomas Ledwell

On a beautiful July evening, we met on the beach in North Rustico prepared for our excursion. Kayaks at the ready, we were given a crash course on the dos and don'ts, and in no time we were on the water. We were a small but diverse group: Laurie and Brad, a couple who recently moved from Alberta to PEI and who took the tour on the eve of their wedding anniversary; Cathy, a school teacher from the State of Washington; myself, Island born and bred; and, finally; our well-spoken guide Murray, another Islander. 

Over the course of the next three hours Murray led us along the shoreline, designing his tour around our interests and aspects of the landscape and wildlife that we came across. "Prince Edward Island is the most beautiful place in the world," said my kayak-mate Cathy as we moved along the red cliffs. The tour catered to the interests of the tourers and our own capabilities as kayakers. We travelled leisurely along the North Shore, were provided with a midway snack, and then made our way back to North Rustico just before the sun went down. The focus of the tour was enjoyment of the outdoors, at a pace that was comfortable for everyone so that no one missed the passing landscape. It was the ideal way to unwind after a long day, whether as a tourist or as a native Islander.

This half-day kayaking excursion is only one of the many tours offered by Outside Expeditions. The Harbour Passage Kayak Tour out of North Rustico is "our bread-and-butter" says Bryon Howard, owner/operator of Outside Expeditions, but they also offer kayak, bike, and hiking tours from four Island locations, plus multi-day expeditions of Atlantic Canada.

The largest project for Outside Expeditions this summer is The Last Spike Bike Tour, the official opening of PEI's Confederation Trail. The tour travels from Elmira to Tignish, August 7-12.

Long Live the ECMAs

by Maureen McTague

Every year, for the past eleven, the East Coast Music Awards and Conference has united music-industry professionals and enthusiasts together to celebrate and promote artists and talent from Canada's East Coast. Talk about mixing business with pleasure, this year's event in Sydney, NS, was stellar, as usual, and artists from our quiet little Island created a rather loud buzz amongst delegates and attendees. All of the nominees deserve a huge pat on the back for their efforts and hard work in this industry, where it's difficult to make an impression. Here's the highlights;

Juno-nominated Acadian group Barachois accepted awards for Roots/Traditional Group of The Year and Francophone Recording of The Year for their latest release, Encore!, before giving an energized performance on the nationally-broadcast Awards Gala on CBC Sunday, Feb. 6.

Newcomers The Jive Kings won their Jazz Artist/Group of The Year nomination. The eight-piece swing orchestra turned many heads over the weekend, to the extent where many watched their performance on the Yamaha 24 Hour Jam on television, due to a long line up at the venue.

Rik Barron took Children's Artists/ Group of the Year, well-deserved for this hard-working Newfoundland singer/songwriter who calls PEI home.

Alternative music had a stronger presence than ever this year, and The Rude Mechanicals delivered a white-hot performance at their ECMA Showcase on Thursday, Feb. 3. If there was an award for strongest self-promotion, this band would've taken it hands down. Their logo could be found in every bathroom, payphone, vending machine and elevator throughout the weekend.

Also showcasing Thursday night was Celtic Tide, Rollo Bay's Celtic rock family who immediately lead the packed house into a foot-tapping, bouncing frenzy.

Patricia Murray's showcase on Friday was also well-received. You could hear a pin drop as she held every eye (and ear) in the room with her angelic voice and delivery of original and traditional compositions.

Nancy White's Jokebox at the Savoy Theatre was a huge success, as she was joined by many celebrities (including Kim Stockwood, Bette MacDonald and Gordie Sampson) in celebration of comedy and song. This event was so well-received, it may become a regular feature at the ECMAs.

PEI fiddling sensation Richard Wood gave a smoking performance at a private showcase hosted by his booking agency, Jensen Music International, leaving the packed house of talent buyers, promoters and media literally awe-stuck with their mouths open as they rose to their feet for a standing ovation after his first song.

One of the most touching moments of the conference was singer/songwriter Maxine MacLeod's presentation of the Stompin' Tom Connors Award to her father, Gordon Gallant, whose music has been heard in PEI's community halls and gatherings for the past 50 years.

Next year it's our own Cradle of Confederation that will be rocked by the East Coast Music Awards and Conference, as it returns to Charlottetown February 8-11, 2001.

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