St Lawrence News covers “Looking Forward” Event

ACOTTI continues to grow and move forward

Written by By Doreen Barnes for St. Lawrence News
Photos courtesy of Doreen Barnes and Linda Moir
October 30, 2016

As Chair Howard Alexander explained to the Arts Council of the Thousand Islands (ACOTTI) members in the Marianne van Silfhout Gallery, St. Lawrence College Brockville Campus on Saturday, Oct. 22, the organization is now registered as a not-for-profit and is looking and moving forward.

ACOTTI’s objectives are to educate and increase the public’s understanding and appreciation of the arts; to provide instructional seminars on topics related to the performing and visual arts; to produce festivals for the purposes of educating and advancing the public’s understanding

As for ACOTTI’s vision, it is to inspire and sustain an exciting vibrant arts community throughout the Thousand Islands, through integrity, respect, inspiration and boldness.

“The Arts Council of the Thousand Islands is a growing organization which has developed a solid foundation for the not-for-profit status, for the vision and mission statement and a long-term strategic plan for growth,” indicated Alexander. “Our current membership stands at 181. This year we have three events providing instructional seminars, as this is the year to focus on the instructional seminar, so there’s this one today, with another in February and there’s one that will be incorporated with the annual general meeting in May.”

In between February and May there will be a fundraising event, “Chair-ity”, to be held in partnership with the college, wherein people can decorate chairs which will be auctioned off with 50 per cent of the proceeds going to the artist and 50 per cent to ACOTTI.

“Also, Jim Palmer is co-ordinating the artist portal to connect artist with the education community,” said Alexander. “The artists will have an opportunity to train for what is needed in the school and have the curriculum connection and so on. That becomes part of a database that will be promoted in all the school boards, in the area. The teacher will be able to go to the database to find an artist in a particular subject area.”

The Arts Council of the Thousand Islands board for 2016-2017 includes, from left, Emily Gardiner, Judy Quick, Heather Savage, Howard Alexander, Deborah Dunleavy, Harold Hess and Jim Palmer. Absent are Debbie Labonte, Brodie Church, Nancy Nicholson and Sheila Burridge.

ACOTTI is taking the lead in not-for-profit organization in applying for a $500,000 through the Canada Council of the Artists, which will employ artists and is connected to the Brockville Railway Tunnel committee and program.

As of September, ACOTTI became a member of the Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce, giving ACOTTI membership the opportunity to take advantage of the many benefits.

The chamber’s membership manger, Jan Murray, addressed the group and explained the various programs that are available, including the referral program, merchant discount, business exposure opportunities, preferred home and auto rates, the fuel savings program, certificates of origin and so much more.

As well, Doug Phillips (Phillips Group Benefits), a chamber membership committee member,

spoke about insurance needs, including dental, drugs and travel, without medical evidence.

The keynote speaker at the ACOTTI meeting was professional artist Deborah Dunleavy, who spoke about her life and the passion she has for the arts.

“It’s interesting to look back and say, oh, did I do that and then you realize that you are changing; changing and evolving,” started Dunleavy. “I think I still look forward and as a creative person; I don’t think we ever stop. What I want to share with you today is how I could not have had my career alone and how it happened that I was able to be successful. We live in these little islands of creativity and it is so essential for us to flourish by sharing what we know with others, by listening to others, by being encouraged by others and by encouraging others.”

Dunleavy is an international storyteller, lyricist, singer, an author, performer, as well as a wordsmith. She touched on royalties and artists getting paid for their craft.

Following a break, the members formed two groups to talk about visual arts and crafts and the other group talked about performing and literary arts.

Both groups walked away with some exchanges of amazing information and suggestions, plus handouts.

To view the ACOTTI web site, including events, go to