Carleton Place artists and community leaders find common ground amid placemaking project controversy

Image via Town of Carleton Place

Earlier this week, Lanarkist reported on the announcement of a placemaking project in downtown Carleton Place, which had ruffled some feathers within the local arts community.

Set to adorn the streets with a vibrant display of regional artwork, the initiative aimed to foster connections between artists and the community; however, concerns regarding artists’ rights and compensation cast a shadow over the project’s initial reception.

In response, Arts Carleton Place took a firm stance against the project, citing the ethical dilemma of artists being asked to relinquish copyrights without compensation. The ensuing discourse sparked a change.org petition urging the town to reconsider its approach, highlighting the growing demand for fair compensation within the arts community.

Since our initial publication, Arts Carleton Place, along with representatives from the Downtown Carleton Place BIA and the Town of Carleton Place, engaged in dialogue to address the concerns raised. Following a fruitful meeting, Suzanne Deschenes, president of Arts Carleton Place, told Lanarkist she was with the outcome.

“The meeting was meant to last half an hour and we ended up meeting for over an hour,” she noted. “No one gives up that kind of time unless the issue matters to them.” 

Paisley Woods, BIA Coordinator, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the town’s commitment to collaborating with local artists in a statement to Lanarkist.

Following the collaborative efforts to find common ground, both Arts Carleton Place and Downtown Carleton Place expressed optimism about future partnerships in arts initiatives. Despite initial tensions, the art exhibition is set to proceed as planned, offering a diverse showcase of regional talent adorning lamp standards throughout downtown Carleton Place. Artists of all ages and skill levels are welcome to showcase their artwork, and can apply until April 26, if spaces remain. The application can be found on Downtown Carleton Place’s website and Facebook page, or requested via email. With only a handful remaining, anyone who is interested should apply soon.

Local artist and author Laura Piggott has been a vocal advocate for artists’ rights and is responsible for the creation of the change.org petition encouraging Carleton Place to reconsider their position. Acknowledging the resolution to the unrest surrounding the Art Exhibit, she encourages artists to remember their worth.

“Artists: your art is worth something. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve received awards and accolades, whether you’re 5 or 106, whether your work is being sold or borrowed (licensed) — your art is worth something. Paying for exposure is essentially paying for someone to license your work – when it should be the other way around,” said Piggott.

As Carleton Place continues to grow and flourish, so too does its vibrant arts community. With various avenues for artists and art enthusiasts to engage, opportunities for collaboration and expression abound. Arts Carleton Place, in particular, invites participation in its upcoming Spring Fine Arts Show—an ideal opportunity to support local artists and acquire unique pieces. The Arts show will take place at the Carleton Place Arena on May 4 and 5. More information is available on their website.

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