Arts, Culture, Heritage

How important is our local culture?

Very important and thriving! The Headwaters region boasts a diverse and very active art and culture sector, and a vigorous approach to heritage preservation. Both contribute directly to community vitality and the feeling of “belonging” that citizens’ say is a primary reason they love living here.

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  • The vibrant arts, culture and heritage of Headwaters makes a valuable contribution to our local economy through tourism and as a business attractor however, local arts/culture groups struggle to secure sustainable funding, particularly in economically depressed times.
  • These sectors also provide people with opportunities to gather together, stay connected, and celebrate community spirit.
  • Preserving heritage buildings and designing new structures to complement them also help make our downtowns distinctive as well as attractive tourism and shopping destinations.
  • Caledon and Dufferin are both above the provincial norm for growth in key subsectors within the arts and cultural industries.
  • How can we improve access to arts, culture and recreation in the Headwaters?

“The ways a community understands, celebrates and expresses itself, “are major contributing factors to its ability to withstand economic, political, and cultural winds of change.”1

Local Volunteer Arts Organizations

  • Dufferin Arts Council organizes trips to theatre performance, concerts and art exhibits for its 420 members, offers workshops in various media, and promotes arts with youth
  • Headwaters Arts serves as an umbrella multi-discipline arts organization for its 200 members, coordinates events such as the Headwaters Arts Festival and promotes the work of various arts groups in the area
  • Orangeville Arts Group organizes the Annual Fall Show and Sale and other art events for its x members as well as supports student artists
  • Caledon Hills Studio Tour:  7 tours, highlight scenic destinations of interest, organized to coincide with the Headwaters Arts Festival
  • Headwaters Arts Festival: Every autumn the Headwaters Arts Festival kicks off its 17-day celebration of the region’s finest artists, artisans and performers with 65 events in over 30 venues.
  • Spark of Brilliance: is a community based initiative that empowers persons dealing with mental health issues and other life challenges and the family allies who support them, to uncover and spark their creative spirit, and help it manifest.
  • Local Music Organizations

    Headwaters reverberates with the sounds of music. The area is well known for festivals such as the Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival and The Canadian Open Old Time Fiddle Championship, choirs, and concerts.

    • Achill Choral Society performs concerts every Christmas and Spring in community churches and halls, and performs internationally
    • Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival draws highly talented jazz and blues artists including Juno, Maple Blues and National Jazz award winners to perform in this free annual festival
    • The Mark Dubois Studio Singersare coached by the renowned lyric tenor as are the Hockley Valley Children’s’ Choir
      • Orangeville Music Theatre produces many high quality local shows that have attracted many respected and well-known directors and choreographers and has been the launching pad for many successful careers in show business.
      • Orangeville Concert Association organize 4 concerts a year held at the Orangeville Opera House bringing well known artists into the community
      • The Orangeville Concert Band is a 60 member musical ensemble with a wide range of musical experiences and ages that perform throughout the community
      • Joyful Voices is an integrated choir of adults that meets at Community Living Dufferin.
      • Sweet Adelines Orangeville Chorus is comprised of 60 women who love to sing and harmonize

     Local Arts and Youth Organizations

    • Dufferin Youth Festival of the Arts involved more than 2,200 students from local schools in 2011 to showcase their talent over 5 days in music, dance, drama and visual arts.
    • Artists in the Schools Program coordinated by Dufferin Arts Council offers teachers in Dufferin County’s 23 schools the opportunity to enrich their arts curriculum by inviting local artists into the classroom to work with students in arts-related activities such as visual arts, music, dance, drama, and storytelling.
    • Kidsfest held during the Headwaters Arts Festival offers a variety of opportunities for young people to dabble in the arts in an affordable way.
    • Scholarships and Bursaries are awarded by the Dufferin Arts Council Endowment Fund to local secondary school graduates who have chosen to enroll in post secondary studies in the arts. The Orangeville Arts Group provides an award for the most promising artist from 3 Orangeville schools.
    • Theatre Orangeville offers an extensive array of programs that give young people hands-on experience on stage and behind the scenes.
    • CACY (Caledon Arts and Crafts for Youth) offers high quality and affordable arts classes taught by local artists for children and youth over the summer months.
    • Headwaters Shining Stars Talent Contest provides a forum for youth with an interest in dance and music to audition for the opportunity perform in Dufferin area community events, and be awarded with prizes that will support the continued development of their talents.
    • DareARts “DARE to Draw Attention”  Program involves over 3000 local elementary and high school students in creating cards that are sold to raise funds that support the arts and leadership programs run by DareArts within Aboriginal communities across Canada.


    Building Dreams Together

    Building Dreams
    The new home of CLD & Theatre Orangeville
    Building Dreams Together is the name of the partnership forged between Community Living Dufferin and Theatre Orangeville that transformed lives for the better and built a new 24,000 square foot shared home for these two dynamic organizations.

    Community Living Dufferin supports individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.  CLD’s goal is to ensure that people with developmental disabilities have the opportunity to be included in the life of our community and to share their gifts and talent.

    Theatre Orangeville is an anchor in the Headwaters Arts Community, providing our region with high-quality live theatre and a vibrant arts program that benefits hundreds of area youth.

    A cornerstone of Building Dreams Together has been the development of Creative Partners on Stage: a ground-breaking program of drama classes that enables people with developmental disabilities to improve their social, communication and presentation skills while having the time of their lives. It has led to three successful productions: Beauty and the Beast, The Sound of Music and Bye, Bye Birdie.

    This innovative partnership has become a model for other communities. It is a powerful example of interdependence.  It illustrates the power of inclusion and how our community is strengthened when we work together with a focus on possibilities and gifts. Its goals are innovative and bold. And, its results are inspiring, uplifting, and life-enriching.

    The Dufferin Not-for-Profit Support & Capacity-Building Project

    Not-For-Profit Grant Writing Workshop photo courtesy of SNAP Dufferin

    The Dufferin Not-For-Profit Support and Capacity Building Project is a two-year pilot project led by a collaborative group that includes Its mandate is to to support Dufferin’s not-for-profit sector and fund projects that will lead to more effective and sustainable service delivery.

    The Dufferin NFP Support and Capacity Building Project demonstrates how our region’s volunteer organizations and service clubs are experimenting with new ways of working together to meet community needs.  This two-year pilot project is led by Headwaters Communities in Action, Community Living Dufferin and six area service clubs: The Orangeville Highlands and Shelburne Rotary Clubs, the Amaranth, Shelburne and Orangeville Lions Clubs and Ontario Trillium Foundation.  Its mandate is to support Dufferin’s not-for-profit sector and fund projects that will lead to more effective and sustainable service delivery.  In 2010, this group distributed more than $60,000 to fund six innovative projects in Dufferin’s not-for-profit sector.



    • Developing and Revitalizing Rural Communities Through Arts and Culture – Arts, culture, and heritage are viewed not only as amenities to improve the quality of life, but as a foundation upon which the future of these rural/small communities rests. The arts and creative activities can profoundly affect the ability of a town not only to survive over time, but to thrive. This report, and its summary, highlight the common themes emerging around cultural development in rural areas and identify reoccurring critical ingredients to foster vibrant arts activity in rural and small communities.
    • Using Creativity to Enliven Urban and Rural VillagesThis paper, by the Caledon Institute of Social Policy, examines the influence of creativity on business and community development in two ‘villages’ – one in downtown Toronto, the other north of Ottawa. Inspired by Richard Florida’s creative cities work, these two very different communities are engaging diverse government and arts groups in the development and realization of exciting local projects.
    • Culture and Recreation: Links to Well-beingThis paper, by the Caledon Institute of Social Policy, explores the importance of culture and recreation for the health and well-being of individuals and communities. It concludes that culture and recreation are essential social amenities – or key elements of social infrastructure – that add significant value to cities and communities.


    • Caledon Heritage Office  – is responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of heritage conservation policies, programs and activities in cooperation with Heritage Caledon, the Town’s municipal heritage committee.
    • Dufferin County Museum and Archives– strives to collect, preserve, and interpret the history of Dufferin County by collecting artifacts and archival material that relate to the County’s historical development.  Built in the style of an Ontario bank barn, the museum’s striking architecture reflects the agricultural heritage of this central Ontario region.
    • Hills of Headwaters Tourism AssociationThere are over 200 artists working in every media imaginable in the Hills of Headwaters. Painters, potters, glassblowers, woodcarvers, weavers, sculptors and jewelers all create here – in styles that range from classical to contemporary to avant-garde!
    • Municipal Cultural Planning Inc – MCPI was formed as a coalition of provincial government agencies, municipalities, cultural service organizations, post-secondary institutions and others dedicated to promoting MCP across Ontario.  MCPI supports municipalities in integrating culture into all facets of community planning and decision-making as a means of building healthy, prosperous and sustainable communities.
    • Creative City Network of Canada: Municipalities are playing a growing role in the development of arts, culture and heritage in Canada. The Creative City Network of Canada (CCNC) is an organization of municipal staff working in communities across Canada on arts, cultural and heritage policy, planning, development and support.
    • Centre for Policy Studies on Culture and CommunitiesThis “think tank” of Simon Fraser University explores how cultural practices and ways of life contribute to sustainable communities and to a more inclusive society? We examine the interactions among urban, labour, social, economic, education and cultural policy today.

    [1]  Developing and Revitalizing Rural Communities Through Arts and Culture:, Creative City Network of Canada, 2009, pg. 1


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