The Excellent Festival

randy-brown-parliament-Streeet-newsOver the past 31 years, Randy Brown and 25 members of the Cabbagetown Art & Crafts (CA&C), which is an association of resident artists, have organized the sale in Riverdale Park during the Festival. The mission of the CA&C is to bring 180 artists from all over Canada to sell their work. About 20,000 Torontonians visit the sale every year.

 
Randy founded the sale with Wendy Shingler and ran it for 14 years as a volunteer until it got a Trillium grant in 2001 for a website and video. At that point it became a not-for-profit with a Board and bylaws. Any money left after the sale is used to start next year’s sale. Randy is paid an Honorarium to manage it.

 
Jeweller Wendy Shingler and lawyers Mary Martin and Virginia Hamara are the executive. They and the members gather at the AGM in January for a full report. Membership is by invitation: you must be an artist and serve three years on the jury which chooses the artists for the show. Members also staff the desk and other tasks.

 
The CA&C has greatly benefitted Cabbagetown in many ways: BarnyardArts ran for 8 years at Riverdale Farm where local artists taught evening classes in ceramics, jewellery, photography, painting, gardening and more. Randy also runs the Friends of Riverdale Park West (FRPW) where over two hundred people have paid $100-150 to put an engraved brick in the park, which has led to the creation of the patio at the farm gate and at the end of Carlton Street and replaced the tarmac pathways with concrete (many thanks to Parks). As well, CA&C has contributed to the Cabbagetown Youth Centre for twenty years, supporting two soccer teams and doing photography; CYC also serves coffee and croissants to the artists. It is likely that every Cabbagetowner owns something from the show.

 
Randy joined with Architect Monica Kuhn and other members of the Cabbagetown Heritage Conservation Committee to protect the legacy of the parks in the neighborhood. Randy, in particular, fought to relocate the Bikeshare and to change the awning colour in Wellesley Park to green. The new park signage is an ongoing debate.

 
While he is sometimes a polarizing figure, he states: “Cabbagetown is a treasure. Peggy Kurtin did a lot of hard work to get Heritage designation and it needs constant vigilance.” And when pressed about why he is sometimes criticized he says “When you stand up for a cause, somebody will disagree with you.” Randy was awarded Volunteer of the Year by the CPA in 2014 and said: “My volunteerism and the volunteerism of many others, has made our neighborhood a better place to live.”

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