Nancy Newman, the Chair of the “Society of York Region Artists” or SOYRA, wrote an embarrassing letter published on page 6 of last week’s Auroran. You can read it here:
Clr. Buck commeneted on it in her blog here:
At first glance it was dismisible as unfounded praise mixed with gibberish. Then upon a second read I started to recognize something more uncomfortable.
Ms. Newman says:
“In light of the recent contract controversy, we feel that it is important for you to recognize the extraordinary value of the Aurora Cultural Centre.”
What is that value Ms. Newman?
How have you measured it?
What makes it so “extrodinary”?
If Newman believes that the “artistic hub” at Aurora’s Cultural Centre is “unparalleled anywhere in the GTA.” she certainly doesn’t get out much, which is very sad given her role.
The type of programming the Aurora “Cultural” Centre produces has strong parallels to a multitude of organizations scattered accross the GTA, and ones that operate in a much more open and accontable manner with a higher regard for effective communications.
The controversy the Aurora “Cultural” Centre has brought upon itself has to do with significant strategic failures, an inability to identify and correct several operational flaws and communicate with the town and its residents in both an effective and professional manner.
Newman has failed to identify exactly what makes the Centre “unparalleled” just like others have failed to identify what makes it “unique”. These are nothing more than empty buzzwords, not unlike her words “extrordinary value”.
As for the only metric that Newman puts forward: approx 800 people (not determined if unique or not) who attended a recent SOYRA event may not have been charged admission, but the event can hardly be considered “free”.
Perhaps this is the disconnect between the Aurora “cultural” Centre as well as the Society of York Region Artists.
Just because your attendees didn’t pay for it, and just because you didn’t pay for it, or all of it, doesn’t meen it didn’t have a cost per attendee.
The costs of operating and maintaining the Aurora “Cultural” Centre are a staggering $500,000 per year.
The “value” the town is receiving for those expenses is not intangeble.
Measuring the cost against benefit is how one arrives at value.
If it is as “extrordinary” as Newman suggests than why is it so difficult to account for?
Value cannot be discarded as unmeasurable by those that are either too ignorant or too inconvenienced to professionaly monitor and report user engagement.
Newman then goes on to say :
“I have lived in Aurora for nearly 30 years. We fully appreciate how the Aurora Cultural Centre is contributing to the quality of life in our town. Where there was a cultural and creative void..”
I have lived in York Region for over 30 years. In that time I have attended countless cultural events in Aurora prior to moving here and found a thriving culture with a great deal of creative expression.
It is insulting for someone who is the so-called chair of the Society of York Region Artists to claim that Aurora operated in a cultural and creative void prior to the Aurora “Cultural” Centre.
That is a blatant lie, a great insult to our town, its residents and all of its cultural purveyors.
It also representative of the type of miscommunication the Centre has promoted that has served to escalate the situation instead of addressing them.
It is insulting to say that those in the art community that are not affiliated with the Aurora “Cultural” Centre are void, or that they are worth less in the cultural equation that has been havily shifted in favor of the Centre.
Perhaps if Ms Newman had paid attention for even a brief second during her 30 years in Aurora she would have seen what a culturaly and creative rich town we have. That by spreading it around our town and assisting endevors for art displays through a gallery at our town hall and programming through our amazing library, museum and service clubs she wouldn’t have seen a void, but instead her neighbours in a living network.
By slighting our town and the several independant members of the arts and culture scene in our town Ms. Newman has done the exact opposite of the mission set out by her society.
Perhaps there’s a void that needs to be filled in that organization’s leadership as well.