Smiths Falls is home to a vibrant arts community that includes world-famous photographers, live theatre, museums, art galleries, heritage festivals, crafts and antique shows. Many juried artisans have made Smiths Falls their home and the community is working aggressively to develop and enhance the Town’s creative capacity and economy in partnership with these artisans.
The Rideau Canal, which runs through the community at its mid-point between Ottawa and Kingston, was designated in 2007 by UNESCO as Ontario’s only World Heritage Site. It offers an attractive scenic backdrop for creativity and includes the Rideau Canal Visitor Information Centre. Smiths Falls is well positioned to meet the needs of the creative population in surroundings that provide limitless opportunities for all ages in a safe and secure setting.
During the winter of 2010, Smiths Falls Town Council established an Arts and Culture Task Force which was formally incorporated into the Smiths Falls & District Arts and Culture Council (SFDACC) in 2011. Formed with the help of the Town of Smiths Falls Economic Development Department, the SFDACC is helping arts and culture to grow in Smiths Falls by providing services, resources and opportunities for individuals and groups involved in the arts. SFDACC also assists in public exhibitions, raises awareness of local artistic and cultural expression, and educates the community about the positive contribution which culture contributes to the community.
A jewel in the cultural community of Smiths Falls is the Station Theatre. Located in a former Canadian Pacific Railway station which when faced with the possibility of demolition had the community’s resourcefulness come to its aid and save the building. Year round live community theatre, including a summer musical, Christmas pantomime, International Film Nights, a world renowned illusionist, and other entertainment is offered at this 140 seat theatre.
During 2012, the Municipal Cultural Planner, hired under an Ontario Creative Communities Prosperity Grant, created an inventory of Cultural Assets; facilitated the mapping of the assets; held a Cultural Visioning Exercise, and with considerable stakeholder input, prepared the Smiths Falls Cultural Plan, 2013 – 2018 and Smiths Falls Cultural Policy for the approval of Town Council.
To help mark the 150th Anniversary of Confederation in 2017, the Ministry of Canadian Heritage gave the Town of Smiths Falls funding to host a live music series throughout the year to celebrate the special occasion. The music was so well received by the community that funding was continued through the Economic Development & Tourism Department in 2018 to help bolster live music events in the community.
In 2019, a review of the program and comparison to the Municipal Cultural Plan for Smiths Falls demonstrated the need to not only continue the Town’s commitment to music within the community, but it highlighted the need to expand the funding opportunity to include other art forms.
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