In 2011, Milton’s arts and cultural scene changed forever with the opening of the Milton Centre for the Arts. Now rebranded at the First Ontario Arts Centre Milton, the building continues to play host to a series of both local and national presentations, as well as fine arts exhibitions, and arts programs for all ages.
Although the focus is always on “community first,” The Centre has a lot to offer in their upcoming season, with a number of big name performers. The most widely recognized names include Tom Cochrane, Jann Arden, and Jully Black – all intrinsic artists in the landscape and history of Canadian music. For those with more classical tastes, the Milton Philharmonic Orchestra will present La Traviata – a tragic love story, and quintessentially operatic. For the younger crowd, Guess How Much I Love You, based on the classic children’s book, will be presented by the Mermaid Theatre puppetry group. One of the most unique presentations will open early in the new year: The Tale of a Town is a site-specific theatre and media project in which Charles Ketchabaw and Lisa Marie DiLiberto collect and share stories about Main Streets across Canada, including our own downtown strip here in Milton.
In addition to the Mattamy and MinMaxx theatres, the Arts Centre offers a wide variety of interactive art programs for children, youth, and adults. The visual arts extend into the Holcim Gallery, which can be rented commission-free by local artists. One of the Centre’s most exciting endeavours is the “FirstOntario Credit Union Every Milton Child, Every Year Arts Program” campaign. Through extensive fundraising, this program will mean that Milton students in Grades 1-8 will have access to free visual and performing arts through their school.
Coordinator of Arts & Culture Carly Anderson describes the importance of community within the Centre: “We do our very best to ensure that Milton institutions have access to the theatre spaces in order to put on their productions and festivals. We work hard to support these groups even before their tickets go on sale, [right up] to the final curtain call. The community is at the heart of the centre. It is a privilege to work with, and to support, community arts groups, and one that we don’t take for granted.” Anderson is referring to theatre groups such as The Milton Players and Brightside Players, musical organizations such as Milton Concert Band and the MPO, film programs like the Milton Film Festival and not-for-profit groups like Arts Milton.
The Centre continues to develop and morph as the community uses it in different ways. Carly explains, “We have have seen an increase in young families utilizing our facility, which has been encouraged by great family-oriented festivals like Culture Days and Celebrating Stories. Exposure to the arts has so many benefits for children, and everyone for that matter – including expression, creativity, collaboration, and empathy.” Anderson, who is managing the Centre on an interim basis, has a great deal of passion for this town. She invites Miltonians to send in requests for the 2018-2019 season through social media, or in person.