Vibrant Communities In Focus
Image Credit: Nikki Wesley
[Tillsonburg District Craft Guild] “Many small towns have a recreation centre as their focus, which is great for people who love sports, but we provide a home for the arts. We have two restored train stations — restored with money from Trillium — and they are beautiful, but not just from the outside. It’s what’s inside, too: wonderful art exhibits, great classes, and people learning and sharing their ideas. This gives the community something really special. We’re a nine-to-five, every-day presence, where people can come see an exhibit, take a class, buy theatre tickets or just meet up with friends.” Pamela Walther-Mabee is the enthusiastic general manager of the Tillsonburg District Craft Guild. The town has a small population of fifteen thousand, but the Station Arts Gallery attracts people from London, Woodstock and other nearby communities. “We had more than twenty-one thousand people come through last year. Some come for an art show. Others sign up for watercolour courses or pottery classes, and some bring their kids for the children’s program. We host special events like the Down-Home Christmas celebrations in late November, with old-fashioned carriage rides and a giant arts and crafts show. Everyone has a good time here. It’s not just a building. It’s something near and dear to our hearts. It’s our cultural home.” The Ontario Trillium Foundation helped launch the Clay Pilot Program. Gallery potters take clay into the local schools, then fire the children’s creations back at the gallery. “We absorb the transportation costs and provide the instructors — and we teach about twenty-five hundred kids every year.”