Letter to the editor 2, May 12, 2016

Is it even possible to make Hudson great again?

Hudson is still a pretty place to live with an active and vibrant community, but it has rested on its laurels for far too long. Now that our eyes have been forced open in a ‘Clockwork Orange’ sort of way we are suffering from corruption fatigue. Each new revelation of yet another scandal, illegal activity, or gross incompetence gets barely a shrug when it deserves our indignation.

The definition of the town’s motto “Noblesse Oblige” is the concept that nobility extends beyond mere entitlements and requires the person who holds such status to fulfill social responsibilities, particularly in leadership roles. It would appear that the ‘entitlement’ part of the definition has been taken to heart while the part about social responsibility and good leadership has not been honoured. Does anyone else think it ironic but fitting to have this motto printed on all of our garbage bins?

So, yes we are a town in difficulty and art can be our salvation.

Cultural projects are not a luxury but can be the economic engine that revives the fortunes of a struggling community. Hudson with no industry but already well-endowed with a wealth of arts groups and a depth of talent, is perfectly positioned to use the arts to create economic development.

To incubate and grow artists we need a dedicated venue: space for a gallery and store, studios, performance space and warehouse/office space.

The ‘cultural centre by the water’ featured in our strategic plan has sunk like the Titanic so let’s collaborate on a realistic project that can be achieved with the active participation of the town’s administration. There is already a well-funded proposal to create an open studio space in the old fire hall; it could be up and running in a couple of months with NO cost to the town or taxpayers! It just waits on council’s approval.

Create public art events in public spaces in a way that is already being done by the Hudson Music Festival and Shakespeare in the Park. These kinds of events bring people to the town and the organizers must be able to count on financial support from the municipality.

Young people are meaningful contributors in social and economic aspects of community building; they bring more adults into the picture and can benefit enormously from mentoring by established artists. Mature and young artists sharing space, trading ideas and learning from each other: it is a winning formula for exciting creative expression. The new youth centre/art space at the community centre is a step in the right direction.

It is obvious that supporting local artists contributes to the local economy. There are many proven models to engage the population in support for the arts which bridge age and social status. Buying original art from local artists benefits the artists and the local economy.

Check out Community Supported Arts www.springboardforthearts.org

Capitalizing on our cultural assets and promoting them will draw people. If we do it right, people who have a pleasant experience here will promote the town for us. It is fitting to remember that nothing stays static: in order to preserve the essence of Hudson we all must be prepared to accept change.

Despite a provincial government mandate that each municipality must have a cultural policy Hudson does not have one. There is no lack of expertise to write one and therefore no excuse not to get it done. We have all the tools to make our town a cultural destination: now we need the established arts groups to co-operate, collaborate and work to a common goal. It is imperative to establish a cultural policy that is fair, inclusive and applied equitably.

We are already well known for our abundance of art and culture, I ask all Hudson residents to now become art activists and support initiatives that promote local arts.

Through the arts we can make Hudson great again.

To see what local artists are up to go to the www.artisteshudsonartists.com home page and click on ‘Visit our blog.’

Jane Wright

President Artistes Hudson Artists

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