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Art Matters Forum - Kitchener

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Art Matters Forum held in conjunction with the Magnetic North Theatre Festival

Kitchener, Monday, June 14, 2010

My husband, the filmmaker and philosopher Jean-Daniel Lafond, and I are truly delighted to be here with you for this Art Matters forum on creating and how to build communities by creating art through imagination. We are therefore pleased to join the Magnetic North Theatre Festival here in the vast, wonderful region of Kitchener-Waterloo.

As this festival of Canadian theatre, of which I am so proud to be the honorary president, reminds us, art attracts; art is a magnet. And, I would say, art delivers.

Art is a participant, through an attraction that unites hearts and minds around an idea, a feeling, an emotion, a unique way of looking at the world.

Art can also be seen and used as a powerful tool to gather the major strengths in our communities, to address social issues. We need all our imagination to create solutions to some of the challenges our society is confronted with. Art contributes to building healthy and sustainable communities.

Art Matters, an initiative of Jean-Daniel's, draws on that attraction to unite women, men and young people from the artistic and cultural communities, from all walks of life, who have their own viewpoint on the role of arts and culture in our communities, and who want to bring their own experiences to our discussion, as well as decision makers and business people; as many people as possible in order to encourage creative synergies and new partnerships.

This forum is therefore meant to be a space for words, exchanges and reflections on issues affecting the key sector of arts and culture, and society as a whole. And I want to thank every one of you who has answered our invitation.

Let me be clear:  a community with no art is a community with no soul.

Just as much as a community is a physical or geographic territory, it is also a place we share and a place we fill with our ideas, our dreams, our aspirations, our stories and our ambitions.

The community of Kitchener–Waterloo does this so well and it is evident in your actions, your commitment and your determination. From the far-reaching effects of RIM and the Mennonite community centre, to the social initiatives of the regional municipality.

And I believe that a community lives, moves and advances when it gives creators and artists their rightful place.

In my opinion, that provides an opportunity to aspire to a richer, fuller and more caring collective experience.

We are all very grateful today that we have five panellists and a moderator to inform and inspire us, and get the ball rolling.

And so I want to thank the artists of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, and the whole Kitchener-Waterloo community, for welcoming us here today and allowing us to say loud and clear that art is a luminous presence in our lives and our communities.

Jean-Daniel, you have the floor…