Raising the Roof ushers in new era for Headwaters Arts, Alton Mill

August 13, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Rob Paul

Headwaters Arts hosted its Raising the Roof event last Sunday (August 1) to celebrate the newest addition to the art gallery: an outdoor tented roof

The dedication included guest speakers such as Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones and Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson.

The event took place under the newly-sheltered gathering space and included an afternoon of arts with live music provided by four-piece jazz band the Sidemen, a spoken word performance from Harry Posner with percussions provided by Jeremy Grant, and poetry readings by Posner—Dufferin County’s Poet Laureate.

To complement the event there was also an artisan marketplace that featured Headwaters Arts member artists selling an array of works.

The tented roof project came together in 2020 after Headwaters Arts received a $138,900 Resilient Communities grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, (OTF) to install a three-season roof structure over the 3,800 square foot outdoor heritage stonewall/foundation called the Annex Courtyard, part of the unique Alton Mill heritage complex, located just 10 minutes south of Orangeville.

“Your plan for the installation of a three-season roof over the Annex for exhibitions, events and performances will be a welcomed addition to both artists and visitors in our community,” said Jones. “In the face of the pandemic, we have all had to adjust and change how we stay connected to each other and this funding will go a long way to reconnecting us all safely.”

The construction of the tented roof was completed in June with the hope that it will provide endless opportunities for the community, artists, and visitors to safely gather outdoors, to experience, engage and enjoy a multitude of new and exciting outdoor arts and culture programs, art shows, workshops, concerts, and ticketed performances/events planned.

“The last 16 months have been incredibly challenging, in particular for the arts when we stopped being able to see live performances, and today, we get to see a live performance again,” Jones said. “It’s so exciting to be able to get to a point where we can safely resume some of these critically important things for our communities, for our well-being, and of course for our arts in Dufferin-Caledon.

“As you can tell by this amazing space we’re gathered under, Headwaters Arts has used the shutdown to create an exciting three-season gathering tent. Headwaters Arts has also been an organization that creates unique opportunities for artists and performers in our communities and I know that this space will become a favourite space for artisan, musicians, and maybe just a few parties.”

In addition to the materials and construction of the roof, the grant funding included the purchase of a light-weight stage for outdoor performances; expansion of online opportunities for audience engagement via additional technology and equipment and purchase of PPE.

Headwaters Arts volunteers, member artists and the Alton Mill Arts Centre, were extremely grateful to OTF for the Resilient Communities funding because, as with many arts organizations, the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns have been significant.

“Headwaters Arts is about enriching people’s lives through arts and culture, and all of us have missed being together for such experiences,” said Margi Taylor, Acting President, Headwaters Arts. “With this grant, together, under our newly tented roof, Headwaters Arts, our member artists and the Mill will recover and rebuild from the impacts of COVID-19 over the next 12 months.”

Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson said he was proud of the initiative Headwaters Arts showed in getting the applications done, which he noted are no small task, for the OTF and he’s excited to see Caledon’s art and culture scene continue to prosper.

“I really appreciate Headwaters Arts reenergizing especially coming through COVID,” said Thompson. “They always say when times get tough, tough people get going and I have to say that Headwaters Arts is part of that team that when the tough got going, they found a solution and found a way. As Mayor, and for my Council team, I have to say we’re very supportive of where we’re going, we think this is a unique area and we want to grow this culture here.

“To me, if you don’t have arts and culture then you don’t have anything that defines you as a community and I definitely believe that this is the definition of who we are and how we can come and share and benefit from different artistic abilities and expression.”

The team at Headwaters Arts says they’re looking forward to new opportunities as they continue rebuild and recover. Alton Mill Arts Centre is the home of the organization, a unique heritage complex and destination in the Town of Caledon. It is visited by thousands throughout the year and enjoyed by a multitude of local community groups, regional arts and culture organizations/artists for meeting, fundraisers, and celebrations.

Thanks to the OTF grant, the team at Headwaters Arts believes that this just the beginning of a new era of growth, opportunity and reciprocity for Headwaters Arts, Alton Mill Arts Centre, and the entire region.

Headwater Arts is a not-for-profit, volunteer-based organization that brings together artists and supporters to promote the development, appreciation, and enjoyment of all the

arts in the Headwaters Region (Caledon, Dufferin County and Erin).

Visit for more information about Headwaters Arts.

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.