PARRSBORO CELEBRATES A NEW FUTURE IN CULTURAL TOURISM
There was a big celebration in Parrsboro on Saturday June 25, with a large crowd gathering at the new bandstand to hear an announcement by Tony Ince, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, that the Province of Nova Scotia is providing $60,000 to support Parrsboro Creative’s vision of creating a new cultural economy. This arts organization, led by Chair Michael Fuller, has worked hard to create a Cultural Campus which offers an impressive array of art and artisan courses in painting, stone carving, photography, singing, pottery, blacksmithing, writing, drama and even a master class in the ukulele! “It’s been quite the year,” says Fuller, “so far, all of course have been selling out and the feedback has been extremely positive. People taking our Cultural Campus Courses are not only engaged creatively, but they’re having a good time, and loving the whole Parrsboro experience.”
The Cultural Campus consists of Seven Partners – Age Of Sail Museum, Arlene Collins Gallery, Art Lab, Fundy Geological Museum, Ottawa House Museum, Ship’s Company Theatre and The Hall, the town’s community arts centre. This Parrsboro Creative partnership has been working hard to develop a Cultural Campus with the idea that in time it will become vibrant enough to attract artists from across Canada and the USA. This initiative was given high praise by Minister Tony Ince who believes that what’s happening in Parrsboro is the new model for communities making the challenging transition from an industry-based economy to finding prosperity through arts and culture.
That sentiment was echoed by the other members of government who were present: Deputy Premier Diana Whalen, MP Bill Casey, Deputy Warden for Cumberland County Ernie Gilford, and Parrsboro Mayor Lois Smith who said she was very proud of the rich arts traditions of her community, and announced that the Town had voted unanimously to provide $4500 in funds to support the important work of Parrsboro Creative.
The whole event had a carnival atmosphere to it, with swing music from The Elastic Big Band, period costumes, trays of appetizers offered by servers wearing elaborate half-masks, colourful banners flowing from the top of the bandstand, a twelve foot high stilt walker, visual arts on display – with celebrated artist Joy Laking there actually creating a new painting! – and a forest of “Root People”, whimsical masks on branches and tree trunks symbolizing future artists who will put down roots in Parrsboro.
Minister Ince and Deputy Premiere Whalen, along with the other officials, walked down Main Street to Art Lab, and then were whisked away to Ottawa House in chauffeur-driven antique cars. At the end of his visit, Tony Ince – a born story teller – commented that this was a turning point for Parrsboro and its surrounding region, and then he made one telling remark about the day’s events and about the vision of Parrsboro Creative: “Be strong,” he said, “ do it and tell the world.” Sound advice, and the perfect wrap-up to an event which was all about forging a new future for both Parrsboro and Nova Scotia.