CATEGORY: community

Residents of Lunenburg County Speak About Arts & Culture – Nancy Ross

News Release Date: Summer 2022

The second in a series of interviews where we ask residents what they think makes the arts and culture sector unique in this County. We want to know what, where, when, and why arts/culture is important to them. 

“As a community based social worker working on the South Shore for 20 years and now teaching and researching at Dalhousie University, Maritime School of Social Work I have come to understand the components that go into creating community based, culturally rich and diverse communities … places where a shared sense of comfort and belonging thrive … a sense of rooted-ness is strong … a feeling of pride of place is shared by all.”

– Nancy Ross

Q: Tell me a bit about yourself

I would say I am a person most comfortable in places and with relationships that value cooperation, non-violence and a shared sense of pride of place.  Being a board member of Be the Peace as well as personally involved in supporting family members intimately involved in the arts/culture activities of the area helps me recognize where and when my personal values are shared.

I believe the arts/culture sector significantly contributes to building and maintaining a community.  The shared pride of place is built through festivals and events by celebrating and connecting people with diverse backgrounds. Seasoned artists mentor young and upcoming ones … people with differing backgrounds come together to share their differences through music, art, culture … cultural groups and organizations support each other and help to find necessary resources to support new and innovative ideas

Q: What is the most recent cultural event you have attended?

Because of the Pandemic, it has been a difficult time to participate in any public events. The most recent event I attended was a Folk Harbour concert at the Opera House just before Christmas. Matt Anderson was playing and what a great performance it was.

Q: What are your favourite arts and cultural activities when you travel?

I enjoy visiting museums and musical events. In a new place I am always looking for “free” informal cultural events of any kind. Arts and culture events of all kinds open the door to learning and seeing things in new ways.

In Thailand, I visited a refugee camp on the border where a group of women were exhibiting various types of woven cloth that they had made. They explained how the cloth was made and how the colours, patterns, and textures reflect different geographical areas. Each piece was unique and special to a particular place. I left the camp that day recognizing how a piece of art cloth reflected each maker’s life perspective and the unique place they called home.  Their pride in their work and in the culture they represented was palpable. It was an honour to have shared that time with them.

Q: Why do you support arts and culture activities in Lunenburg County?

First, our daughter is immersed in art and wants to make it her life work  As a parent I have always been her advocate.

Second, art activities and festivals are purposeful and small “p” political. They can help to hone your critical thinking skills……have the ability to broaden your mind……help you connect with your emotions……and create alternative ways of seeing the world. These days our society is very much consumer oriented, competitive and many of us are disconnected from our roots. The dollar sign motivates most people today and competition is the norm……bigger and better is the motto for these times. 

Those involved in arts/culture are not singularly focused on making money. They are interested in using their creative energy in differing ways.  They are not motivated by making a name for themselves although this may be a by-product of their activity. Instead, they seem to focus on an alternative view of life by experiencing happiness through creative endeavour, and beauty through creative expression. They seem to want to do their best rather than compete for the norm. Artists often hold an alternative understanding of life and where they fit. I guess you could say they want to celebrate one of the highest forms of self-expression through the process of self-satisfaction.

Q: On a scale of 1-5 (with one being the highest) how healthy would you say the arts/culture sector is in Lunenburg County.  

Generally speaking, I believe the Arts/Culture sector in Nova Scotia is one of the best in Canada and I think this strength is reflected in our Town and Lunenburg County.  There are a significant number of artists living and working here; doing so many wonderful things… music, painting, working in fabric, ceramics, hat making, writing, boat making etc. We are lucky to be surrounded with such creativity however, we cannot take this for granted.

Young artists struggle here to get the resources they require to grow, learn and thrive. Support from our town, our institutions and our community is very much required if we are to maintain our high standards. For example, we know when financial belt tightening happens in schools it’s often the art and music programs that are cut first.

Often town council gives a nod to arts/culture requests and then passes the buck back to the community … communities often look to other institutions and businesses for space, money, and resources and they are unable to help and they pass the buck back to the community … everyone passes the buck. We need to recognize we all have a significant responsibility to support this sector and we need to figure out what we can contribute and then we need to work together to grow our arts/culture sector if we are to be the best we can be.

Q: What do you think contributes the most to the arts and culture sector in our community?

  • Being a part of an enthusiastic audience at events. Support community arts events! Recognize the amazing role artists and creators play in creating  pride of place and an exciting vibrant community.  
  • Provision of programs, training, and services for young artists such as LAMP residencies … Lunenburg School of the Arts, NSCAD Residency Program  (recently closed.) … home billeting initiatives, mentoring etc.
  • Volunteers who give so much time and resources to arts and culture organizations in Lunenburg and Lunenburg County.
  • Grants and bursaries for emerging artists.
  • Financial support from private businesses, local residents, and organizations that support individual artists, arts events and festivals.
  • It seems like there was more support of this kind in the past and we need to step up and increase our support post Covid if the arts and culture sector is to survive.

Q: What do you think challenges the growth of the arts/culture sector in our communities?

I think as residents we need to be reminded that the arts and culture sector provides an alternative to the neo-liberal global attitudes that presently permeate our thinking. We need to recognize that “homemade” and “handmade” … local versus global … ”one of a kind” versus mass market products hold value … that beauty and sense of pride of place also have a financial value … that young artists make significant contributions to our communities and their voices are worth listening to … that we as residents of this place have a significant role and responsibility to help people understand our Town and the South Shore has a unique art/culture contribution to make to the Province, the country: after all we are a world celebrated UNESCO site.  Our vision for this place needs not to be the same as most small towns. We can have a vision that is big and integrated and unique. We can be an example of a place that creates the best we can be … a thriving place of which we can be proud.

I think the lack of leadership by our Town Council related to arts/culture is a significant stumbling block for both the Town of Lunenburg and the County.  Towns have the ability to consciously create and become centres of cultural activity. We can be one of those places. We can engender a sense of pride of place in those who live here and create exciting destinations for visitors.  

To meet the challenges we are facing as the pandemic subsides, requires recognizing just how important the arts/culture sector is in creating an outstanding quality of life for residents as well as the financial support it brings to this area of the province. Creating a place where success in industriousness through fishing spawns a whole-hearted embrace of cultural innovation and activity, cannot help but entice new development and support for the area, and the numerous artists residing here.

Q: What do you think will help to build the arts/culture sector as we move into the future?

  • Increased leadership by council, by businesses, by community organizations, by residents.
  • Learning more about the sector and ensuring it is included in our educational systems.
  • Have more public places where art is seen and the contribution of an “artist’s eye” is evident.
  • Giving this sector greater priority by recognizing the power it has including financial viability.

Q: Other

Remember to celebrate young artists, make them a priority in our town and county … increase cooperation amongst the art organizations and the artists in town and in Lunenburg County … leave behind neo-liberal attitudes … embrace and celebrate our uniqueness as a town and a county!