Arts and Culture in Mississippi Mills: John Edwards

By John Edwards

Mississippi Mills’ artistic expression flows from its cultural identity, which is rooted in the community’s small-town ambiance, rich heritage and rural environment.

The definition of culture, for this document, encompasses not only traditional art forms (e.g. drama, music, and painting), but also includes the lifestyle and activities of residents and visitors. When looked at through this broad lens, it is evident that culture contributes significantly to the quality of life in Mississippi Mills.

This diverse culture attracts new residents, retains talent, fosters economic endeavours, provides a setting for collaborative partnerships, and cultivates a shared community identity. These cultural roots are supported by a foundation of active leadership, and numerous community, civic, business, and agricultural leaders. These roots can be deepened and strengthened through careful and collaborative planning inspired by the community’s beautiful setting and residents’ pioneering and adventurous spirit.

The allure of Mississippi Mills is multifaceted: an Ottawa Valley location, a reputation as a charming town surrounded by the Mississippi river, lush and productive farmland and easily accessible to natural ecosystems and trails. Activities and recreation include fishing, hiking, paddling, bicycling, ATV-ing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, xcountry skiing, culinary discoveries, and educational explorations, to name a few.

Music, arts, and writing are at the heart of the community’s artistic soul. The cultural and heritage resources of Mississippi Mills also extend to the surrounding area. The beauty—and accessibility to dynamic environments—provide excellent sources for creativity and inspiration.

Benefits of Culture:

  1. Economic Driver: Diversified growth is possible when culture is used as a tool. It brands and creates job growth, spin-off businesses, and competition.
  2. Renewal and Revitalization: Culture-based initiatives have been essential to many rural revitalization and renewal programs in Canada. The arts ensure a community’s environment reflects who residents are and how they live.
  3. Community identity and pride: The arts and culture have been instrumental in facilitating social cohesion, bringing tourism to unlikely places, fostering a sense of belonging, and preserving collective memory (eg. Festival of Small Halls)
  4. Positive Change: Arts and culture make considerable and necessary contributions to the wellbeing of communities. Arts and culture are powerful tools with which to engage communities in various levels of change. They stimulate public dialogue, contribute to the development of a community’s creative learning, create healthy communities capable of action, provide a powerful tool for community mobilization and activism, and help build community capacity and leadership.
  5. Quality of Life/Quality of Place: Arts and culture is a driver of “quality of life” and “quality of place,” which build prosperous and successful communities. It is about leveraging cultural assets and resources in order to offer residents a quality lifestyle that makes a community a desirable place to live. It establishes cultural considerations in aspects of municipal planning and decision making.
  6. Personal and Social Development of Youth: Arts and culture have the ability to engage and motivate children and youth from all socio-economic levels in education and community.

A few of the things we currently do to support arts and culture in Mississippi Mills:

  • We have an annual arts and culture services budget (e.g. staffing, resources, program structure, funding) to support an Arts and Culture Plan.
  • We have developed a public art policy and program.
  • We have made empty or underutilized buildings and spaces available to artists and creative enterprise for exhibits and education.
  • We have created an ongoing coordinated community calendar of events.

Do you have ideas regarding arts and culture in Mississippi Mills? Please contact me and I would be happy to meet and discuss with you.

Phone: 613-250-0794 or Email: jhedwards@canoekayak.ca