David Morrison has been with the Kawartha Lakes Arts Council since its inception. He was the first Chair of the Board of Directors from the spring of 2015 to March 2016, overseeing the Board through its critical first year, and has since stayed with the Council, working with the Communications committee.
Active in the arts and community his whole life, David has made significant contributions to Lindsay and the whole of Kawartha Lakes. As music teacher for Trillium Lakelands District School Board from 1991 to 2014, David brought music into the lives of thousands of local students before his retirement as Head of Performing Arts at I.E. Weldon Secondary School. David was part of the creation of Trillium Lakelands Arts Camp, a specialized arts instruction in a camp environment for students with proficient skills.
From 1998 to 2005, David served as musical director of the Lindsay Kinsmen Marching Band, taking the community organization from an enrolment of 13 to 63 in just two years, and during his time as director, the band performed in parades around Ontario and toured Newfoundland and Alberta.
David is the creator of the Odyssey Project, a community-based non-profit music program run by music teachers and industry professionals who volunteer their time to teach advanced music skills to young people through the preparation and performance of popular music. The program earned an excellent reputation as a professional ensemble, and many students went on to post-secondary studies in music, and musical careers.
David is the co-creator of the Cooperative Initiatives in the Performing Arts, a program created in 2009 to bring the staff and students of I.E. Weldon S.S and Lindsay Collegiate and Vocational Institute together to share resources and expertise, while also creating new and exciting performance opportunities through combined ensembles, workshops and travel. These ensembles have travelled to Boston, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. CIPA has gained interest from international music festivals and schools, seeking to develop their own programs based on CIPA's model.
David operates the Lakelands Music Academy with his wife Colleen, and he also has been on many other community non-profit Boards including Calypso Foundation Works Program, Kawartha Lakes Association for Community Living, the Lindsay Concert Foundation, TLDSB Special Education Advisory Committee and the Kiwanis Club.
In 2013, David was presented with the TLDSB Impact Award for Excellence in Co-Curricular Programs.
David lives in Lindsay with his wife Colleen. They are the parents of five children. In addition to playing music and directing music, David is also an accomplished photographer and graphic artist.
Why do you believe that the arts are important in a community like Kawartha Lakes?
No matter where you live, a happy life requires balance. It requires comfort, happiness, support, opportunities to contribute and be creative and to be expressive. Nowadays, we seem to have expanded the importance of material things, careers and money to such huge proportions that we have left very little room for the happiness that comes from living that balanced life. People are more stressed now than ever.
I believe the Arts can be such a vital part of creating balance. It is important for each person to be involved in activities that allow for decompression, relaxation, self-expression and recreation. The Arts allow folks so many different ways to insert these important things into their lives.
Also, I believe involvement in the Arts, whether it is creating, performing, viewing, listening, reading or whatever, connects a person with humanity. Art is human expression and as such I believe is the most basic way people can share and create understanding, tolerance and ultimately unity. The Arts are a way of sharing cultures, ideas, thoughts and questions. They can confirm understandings and they can provoke change. They can be complicated or simple and as such can be created and enjoyed by every single human being. What could be of more importance to our society than something that can do that?
Kawartha Lakes is home to an amazing network of creative individuals. We have playwrights, composers, bloggers, sculptors, musicians, actors, potters, painters, graphic designers, videographers, photographers and on and on… We have organizations and businesses that are working tirelessly to teach about the Arts and to promote the Arts. We are very fortunate as a community. At this time we are blessed to have the opportunity with KLAC to strengthen our Arts community through our partnership with the City of Kawartha Lakes so that both partners can see the incredible benefits that can exist when work is done cooperatively. The Arts are more than a social/human resource, they also have huge economic potential.
What do you believe shaped you as a believer and a lover of the arts?
I think as someone who has always been surrounded by the Arts in one form or another it is only natural that I would find them to be an important part of life. Over and over again I have seen the impact they can have on folks. Involvement in the Arts has allowed me to meet and interact with incredibly interesting and creative people. Collaborating with other artists has taught me so much and through that learning I have garnered a great respect and appreciation for the importance of diverse artistic ideas.
What do you believe your “genius” is now that you have retired and are settling into a new career? In other words, what do you believe you do the best and gives your work the greatest value?
What I do the best? Unfortunately the two things I do the best (or most easily) are 1.) act like a kid and 2.) come up with crazy ideas that tend to make a lot of work for other people.
The ‘acting like a kid’ thing means that I will likely continue to be involved in work with young people whether it is doing workshops with school groups, adjudicating music festivals or working with youth in the community.
Regarding the crazy ideas - I love the creative process. I love identifying a need and then getting the right people together to create a solution. I truly believe that if you have a goal that is of real value to a community there is no way you cannot achieve it. Keeping your eyes on the value of the goal tends to minimize the roadblocks and maximize the joy of the journey. Although it’s the end goal gets us motivated I always find it is the time spent with your friends on the journey that is the most fun and rewarding part of any project.
Since I retired from being a teacher, I have taken on a new role as a school board trustee for the Trillium Lakelands District School Board. In this role I will continue to advocate for the importance of developing sound Arts programs in our schools. Hopefully my enthusiasm for the Arts will be infectious and as the Arts grow our system will become more and more aware of their importance in the healthy development of the whole child. I am very excited say that recently TLDSB hired a full-time Arts consultant to support the visual art, drama, dance and music programs in our elementary schools.
I am sure I will continue to come up with ‘crazy’ ideas and life will continue to be the fun ride it has been so far.
As a board member for the Kawartha Lakes Arts Council where do you believe the future is with community arts boards? How can they impact a community?
I think the existence of strong community Arts groups is of real importance nowadays to both the quality of life and the economic viability of every community.
If we take a look around Ontario we can see that communities that have worked to develop their Arts and Culture resources through community arts councils and networks are among the most vibrant, active and sought-after destinations for visitors. They understand that their people and their unique artistic and cultural gifts are worth supporting and celebrating and as a result are seeing real benefits.
I think KLAC is off to a great start. We have established ourselves as a serious advocacy group, and we have forged some strong relationships with the City of Kawartha Lakes council and the community at large. We have a wonderful group of very skilled and experienced board members who I think will do a great job steering the organization into the future. I know they will continue to look outside our own community to see what other successful councils have done and bring back and apply useful best practices. We are very fortunate to have these folks volunteering their time and expertise.
My prediction is that within ten years Kawartha Lakes will be widely regarded as ‘must-visit’ destination for tourists and visitors who are interested in experiencing the best Arts, Culture and Heritage our province has to offer.
What role would you like to see KLAC play in the community and in the region?
I think KLAC will continue to grow and develop into a substantial and positive player in the Kawartha Lakes, not just for giving the Arts community a voice but also because it will be a strong and collaborative presence that will work very effectively with the City’s economic development staff to ensure that our artists feel like valued contributors to the local economy. I think if KLAC maintains their focus on networking, advocacy and education they will continue to be very successful.
What would you say has been your greatest contribution to the community?
Hmmmm….I always find it difficult to answer this kind of question. I would like to think that if I have given anything to the community it might be opportunities for our young people to get involved in activities that not only allow for creative expression and learning but more importantly provide a place to grow their talents where they feel support from peers and from the community at large.
Also, as a teacher I enjoyed some really great partnerships with colleagues and I really believe that through these cooperative associations we were able to bring students and school communities together to do more than they could on their own.
Upbringing? Influences – as an artist and as a teacher?
I grew up in Scarborough, the youngest in a family where all of the kids were given access to many learning activities in music and arts in general. We all took lessons whether in dance, piano, guitar, saxophone, or oil painting. My grandmother was a wonderful oil painter. My grandfather was a very accomplished musician and played piano on air at Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in the early days of live radio. My mother was a beautiful singer who took lessons even through her adult life as we were growing up. It’s fair to say we were immersed in a culture where the arts were not just important but were really a way of life.
Music truly became a significant force in my life in grade four when I was chosen as one of a handful of students to receive clarinet instruction with a wonderful fellow named Mr. Gold who played with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. From there I had a string of amazing and inspirational teachers who I still give thanks for every day; my band teachers at school - Neil Flow, Bill Fowler, George Danes and my piano teacher George McElroy and saxophone teacher Paul Brodie. Music kept me in school.
Cultural upbringing? Any one thing that shaped who you are now as a cultural ambassador? Who was your greatest influence as a young person?
I think my mom was probably a big influence in this regard. She loved all things beautiful, including the Arts and what the Arts could do for people. She dabbled in everything creative. She was a singer and a pianist. She loved to draw, to paint, to write and to read. She also loved children and shared her love for creativity with hundreds of little people as a children’s librarian in the Scarborough Public Library system. Through this work she got to create active story-time programs for preschool kids that involved singing, dancing and of course stories. Her love for writing and for her community would lead her to compile and share a written history of the community of Agincourt where she grew up (then pop. 200.) She would also take me to seniors' homes when I was a teenager and we would entertain them with her singing and my piano and saxophone playing. She really was a true ambassador for the Arts in her community and so I guess as I grew up she exposed me to all the great things that the Arts can do for people. Now that I am where I am in life, I like to think that I am maybe continuing that sharing with my community.