Billings community receives provincial community celebration 150 funding

KAGAWONG—Billings Township has received funding from the province of Ontario through its Community Celebration Program in celebration of Ontario’s 150 anniversary, toward the Art and Heritage Festival Project in the community.

The province is providing $57,223 to Billings for the Art and Heritage Project, which has a start date of April 5 through October 1. In celebration of Ontario’s 150th anniversary, the province is providing funding of $7 million in funding for 367 exciting local initiatives including multicultural events, art exhibitions, sporting events and local food festivals––that will bring people together to commemorate the qualities and values that define Ontario and revel in this historic milestone.

“Ontario’s 150th anniversary is an opportunity to come together and celebrate the incredible province we live in,” said Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “Through the Ontario 150 program, we are supporting initiatives that recognize the people, places and events that make Ontario great. The Community Celebration Program will ensure that people in every corner of the province can recognize our 150th year and explore our heritage.”

Sophie Edwards, executive director of 4elements Living Arts, told the Recorder the Billings Art and Heritage Festival Project in the community, “is a substantial six-month engagement and celebration designed by an existing partnership of four important community organizations; the Township of Billings, the Old Mill Heritage Centre, the Kagawong Recreation Committee, and 4elements Living Arts.” “The theme, ‘learning from the past, creating a shared future,’ draws upon the Truth and Reconciliation Commission call for all communities and organizations to address reconciliation, and Justice Sinclair’s observation that art and artists play an important role in helping communities to imagine a different  kind of future,” said Ms. Edwards.

“Together with Canada 150 funding the project will create a significant and sustained six-month engagement, and a lasting legacy as community members are not just celebrating art, listening to talks and music, but participating in the whole process,” explained Ms. Edwards. “Canada 150 funding (confirmed) provides significant monies to commission artists to build sculptures in response to the theme, including one to be designed by community members, and animate existing bike and walking trails through these sculptures, 40 heritage plaques, trail maps and a heritage kiosk.”

“Ontario 150 funding will provide the means to meaningfully engage residents through participatory community engagements, art-making, lectures, community arts exhibition, spoken word, literary, performing and visual arts presentations, and a summer heritage event as well as a fall festival with contemporary music and launch of the sculpture and heritage trail,” continued Ms. Edwards.

“Kagawong, the heart of Billings Township, is admired for its high levels of volunteerism and cultural engagement. The project draws upon the energy of the community, the physical beauty and historical, recreational, harvesting, fishing and agricultural significance of the landscape, and the vision of the township and its partners to create a vibrant, creative, cultural commodity.”