The McCloskey Hotel is a new arts resource for eastern Ontario.
We are looking for adults who wish to find a creative haven. Whether you are young or senior, if you have an artistic soul this could be your home and studio.
“Building a World-Class Digital Media Incubation Centre in Chesterville”
[Note: If this was a humor piece, I would punctuate their motto like this: “Building a World-Class Digital Media Incubation Centre in… Chesterville?”—but it’s not. In fact I like the idea a lot, so I should avoid saying anything that could be interpreted as anything but encouraging….]
Here’s a bit more about their vision and mandate:
Last Resort Productions and the 4C Future Association are renovating and will establish a rooming house, offering thirteen mandated affordable rooms. However, these rooms will be used beyond the narrow-mindedness of social housing to include career-creation and the building of the new economy in North Dundas.
This challenge will be mentored by a new non-profit association at the hotel.
The goal is to create a business fabric in which new-economy entrepreneurs can learn and create self-employment in a home/office situation in North Dundas and importantly be integral with the greater Ottawa scene.
The McCloskey experiment will be Digital Dreams based and internet-tooled. The McCloskey Hotel will develop plans for a local digital-film movie/television centre in North Dundas. This is the primary focus and second to this will be the development of a vision of the greater new economy at our municipal level. This includes the family farm, light tourism, destination buying and harmonized local entrepreneur themes, based on our rich historical and geographical assets.
If successful, the first test will be: Can the young pursue careers based in North Dundas and not have to move to the big city?
It’s a tough question; in my experience, certain types of artists feel freed by the comfortable isolation of rural life, and others feel their spirits are being squashed by small minds and slow-to-change cultures. Chesterville is a small town, but it’s not a long drive to Ottawa from there; perhaps this is the ideal location for the collaboration of Town Artist and Country Artist (if you’ll forgive my polarizations and generalizations). The development of this artists’ community will be particularly interesting to observe, given the emphasis on digital arts (though all artists are welcome).
I lived in Chesterville until I was six, so I feel an immediate pang of love for this initiative. I have fond and fairly clear memories of my parents’ first house (my mum painted the trim magenta!) on Joseph Street, and my first friends, and my first library books. Chesterville was a great place to be a tot (best playground I’ve ever played in, hands down!), but my mother is an artist, and I get the impression that living in a small town made her feel isolated and stagnant. An initiative like this, if it gets off the ground, could do much to counter those conditions.
An artists’ community has the potential to be an encouraging, creative space that draws artists and appreciators. I have visited Ein Hod, in Israel, many times and loved it; these places are like craft fairs all the time, and there are classes to take and galleries to visit and all sorts of interesting artist characters.
Yet I have mixed feelings about artists’ communities. I feel uneasy about them in the same way that I feel uneasy about gated communities and retirement communities: how can you call something so proactively homogeneous a “community”? And yes, I think even a group of “artists”—with their multitude of media and methods, and their individual attitudes toward life—could be in danger of becoming too homogeneous (and inward-focused). Diversity is vital to community-building, in my estimation… but of course there will be diversity in a group of artists. I suppose I’m just airing out my worries.
If the New McCloskey Hotel really wants to get off the ground, I strongly recommend hiring certain types of professionals (I suggest enthusiastic freelancers) or finding certain types of volunteers: first, a web designer to redesign the website, and secondly an editor or writer to revise the mission statement and website copy. Maybe they’re already on it.
Ultimately I’m sure that this “incubation centre” will do a lot of good; it has the potential to uplift and inspire Chesterville (and surroundings) as it gains in strength and numbers. I hope that Chesterville is both proud and supportive.
Thanks to Heather Harvey, who heard the owners give a radio interview and sent me word of this project.