By Sean Meyer
If London Arts Council exists to promote the arts, support a more vibrant community, and create opportunities for professional artists and arts organizations, then its mission has been a resounding success.
The arts council was created in 1995 and has been led since 2003 by executive director Andrea Hibbert.
While an unabashed champion of the local arts scene, Andrea is quick to acknowledge the “tremendous amount of advocacy work in the area of art creation,” is something she, and her whole team, are most proud of accomplishing.
“Each year, we invest in professional artists so they can showcase their talents, support youth in our community to be able to tell their stories, to open their minds and explore new ideas, new ways of creating and co-creating with the arts,” Andrea said. “Professional artists are at the forefront of the delivery of all our programs. What’s been really critical is having professional artists at the table, helping us to co-create our programs.”
The involvement of local artists has been essential in successful initiatives such as the arts council’s Artists in Education Classroom Experience, London Arts Live and Culture City programs.
Culture City alone, Andrea explains, has seen the arts council build upon more than 50 local collaborations, including many non-arts organizations like Growing Chefs, ReForest London and Ark Aid Mission.
One thing Andrea said she often hears — something she’s especially proud of considering the organization’s limited staff compliment — is how much work the arts council accomplishes on an annual basis.
Those achievements, she explains, are due to not only her core team, but also the active involvement of local artists and arts organizations. That said, another important element is where the London Arts Council is spearheading its work from.
Having been part of the five-year search for a building to launch a community shared space that became Innovation Works, Andrea said, “the reality of what has been accomplished has exceeded the original expectations”.
“The interesting thing is, you don’t actually have to be located in the space to meet new people on a daily basis,” she said. “People are coming here for meetings, events - they are coming here and sharing the incredible work they are doing in their own spaces. The nature of this building is to share your ideas and help make them a reality . . . it’s just the philosophy. And when you have a shared philosophy, you live it.”
As such, she is quick to thank everyone who contributed to the creation of Innovation Works, including the donors, the sponsors, and the community builders alike. On a daily basis, the London Arts Council sends people all over the community, to connect with not only arts organizations, but groups of all description.
The London Arts Council has increased its connection to the broader community and has a greater depth of knowledge of what’s happening beyond the arts community as a result of being located in a thriving space such as Innovation Works.
“We’re very grateful as an organization — as a member of this community — to have investment in this space,” she said. “For individuals and organizations to share our experiences, new ideas . . . and put some wind in each other’s sails. It’s very inspiring.”
For more information, visit www.londonarts.ca.
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