HUNTSVILLE – A national funding program designed to bring the business and arts communities together in Huntsville successfully raised just over $85,500 in investment funds during the yearlong program.
Local businesses and arts organizations celebrated the wrap of a national program, Business for the Arts, that helped strengthen arts and culture in Huntsville through business sponsorships.
ArtsVest, a Business for the Arts program, saw five arts organizations team up with 30 local businesses to create promising partnerships to help improve community culture.
“A good healthy community not only has a healthy business climate, but it also has a good healthy social well-being climate in order to have healthy people engaged in those jobs in the community,” said Teri Souter, Huntsville manager of arts, culture and heritage. “All of that’s based of course on a beautiful and healthy ecological environment. So all of these are interconnected, every one of them is equally important. If anyone one of them gets out of balance your community gets sick, it doesn’t prosper.”
Huntsville was one of five communities chosen to participate in the program in Ontario over the past year. The other communities were Barrie, Guelph, Hamilton and Markham.
During the wrap-up celebration for the program on Sept. 13, Rob Saunders, general manager of Huntsville Festival of the Arts, spoke about the festival’s experience in matching area artists with several businesses for Nuit Blanche North.
“The challenge next year will be ArtsVest is going to move on and help another community. We’re going to go to the businesses we were with before and maybe some new businesses because it was a project we will try to do again and again,” he said. “The relationships we had with the businesses we worked with were all very, very positive.”
Vicki Dodds, vice-president with the Huntsville Arts Society, agreed the experience was positive and beneficial. The organization teamed up with Hidden Valley Resort.
“Hidden Valley Resort has had a long history of teaming with arts groups to facilitate charitable art shows in various visual arts events, after attending the ArtsVest presentation it seemed a logical step to approach Hidden Valley,” said Dodds. “We believed we could assist each other in building on the arts and culture attraction of their area; adding to and enhancing the Resort’s natural amenities by providing a multifaceted art experience for its guests.”
Dodds said the resorts general manager, Scott Hammond, jumped at the opportunity without hesitation, as he understood immediately how it would be a mutually beneficial partnership over a long period of time.
Of the $85,500 raised during the program, over $61,000 came directly from the business sponsors.
Mayor Claude Doughty told the crowd at the event that it was certainly an impressive number, but not a surprising number.
“We shouldn’t be surprised,” he said. “It’s Huntsville, that’s what we do here. We get behind these things.”
What was more impressive to Doughty was having those sponsorships come in even though the economy has been struggling globally.
“Much of the revenues streams that support our arts community are discretionary funds so it’s good to see that we weathered that,” he said.
Of the communities involved with the program comparable in size to Huntsville, Huntsville had the best results.
“The arts sector in Huntsville is very strong and will continue to be,” said Souter.