I posted this on SSP a while back, but I don't think I posted it on here yet -- so what the heck!
I thought this was interesting, and of course it's especially so to me personally, since I happen to live in one of the selected communities! (although I wasn't at all surprised by North Bay's placement)
The TV Ontario program "Studio 2" ran a contest last summer called "Ontario's most talented town" and 55 communities submitted entries. They then announced and profiled the winning communities on the program, which are:
2. Parry Sound
3. North Bay
from the tvo site:
Beautiful Bancroft is the first-place winner in TVOntario’s Talented Town Contest. Parry Sound came in second and North Bay third. The contest was adjudicated by Studio 2 senior arts producer Judy Brake, Ontario historian Ron Brown, and artist Rob O’Flanagan. This year’s competition drew nearly 150 entries from 55 communities from across province.
Judy Brake explains the judges’ criteria: “Lots of communities have a vibrant summer scene with festivals, but we looked at places that had something really interesting going on all year.” Here’s what the judges had to say about the winners:
Rob O’Flanagan: My first exposure to Bancroft's talent made me want to move to the town for a transfusion of creative energy. This place has the kind of artistic spirit you hope and dream exists somewhere, anywhere. It's a close-knit community with artists of all kinds coming out of the woodwork.
Ron Brown: Bancroft is widely known as the mineral capital of the world. But its arts scene is a real diamond in the rough. Here we have a small town, only a few thousand souls, which got its start as a remote logging town tucked deep in the hills of north Hastings. But it was those same hills that began to attract artists, weavers, and even face painters, and have turned the town into an enthusiastic arts colony. It was clear to us that Bancroft's arts community is a self-nurturing grassroots movement, and that is why it won.
Judy Brake, quoting a Parry Sound submission: “Call a taxi and you'll find a novelist. Chat up a waitress and you'll discover an oil painter. Sit in the Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts and you'll hear a resident classical or jazz pianist, chorister, or thespian.”
Ron Brown: Like Bancroft, the entries from this Georgian Bay port showed that the place is generating its own arts scene. While widely known for its Festival of the Sound, Parry Sound has attracted a wide range of artists. Because historical attractions are my thing, and I love railways, the opening of an art gallery in the old CPR station would have to rank as my favourite initiative in this hillside town.
Rob O’Flanagan: North Bay is a small city but it has the character of a small town. There is an unusually high concentration of gifted artists, writers and performers living and working in the community, and a network of galleries and schools that shine the spotlight on the arts. There must be something in the water or in the air, but North Bay just has something seriously creative going for it.
Ron Brown: Here too we have an unlikely winner. From its beginnings as a railway town on the shores of Lake Nipissing, North Bay has become the capital of northeastern Ontario in more ways than one. Writers, musicians and artists have turned this once frankly dull town into northeastern Ontario's leading arts town. Canadore College has developed a major arts program, and having one of the world's best-known cartoonists (Lynn Johnson, For Better or for Worse) has certainly given the place an artistic sheen and the attention that just a few years ago wouldn't have seemed possible.