Durham West Arts Centre


TEL: 905-250-9891
EMAIL: info@dwac.ca


I support the ARTS
If you would like to add your comments in support of the arts in Durham please email us.

Media Coverage

Dear Mr. Mayor & Council;

I would like to voice my concern and unhappiness on seeing the Durham West Arts Centre close. You have been Mayor of Ajax for an extremely long time and I have seen pictures of you at many of the art functions. Therefore I have to believe that you must appreciate the impact that art has on our community.  

Personally I love the town of Ajax and am thankful for the town being like it is. I have only been a member of your community for the last nine years. My point is that when I came here and looked for a home I chose Ajax because it had a small town comfortable feeling yet the convenience of everything at my doorstep. Ajax has the best waterfront park and bicycle trail compared to the other towns. Harwood is lined with beautiful trees that graces us with bloom every spring. These are just a few of the reasons why Ajax is a great place to live. This is why I writing to voice my opinion on taking any thing culturally important out of the community. Money I realize is a big issue but it's important to balance that off against what something does to enhance this community.  

Art fills the mind and the soul and is just as important as physical activity to maintain a body's well being. By closing out Art in the community you are sending a message to residents like me that Art is not important. I am considering opening an Art based business in this community and this does not make it conducive to pursue this if you as leader of the community can't show support to it.

I am a textile artist who was recently represented in East of the City magazine for the Durham region. My art was also featured on a local TV show called Daytime that Rogers produces. I also represented Canada as one of the top thirty Textile fiber artists selected internationally for an exhibit called Old Masters New Masters. This Exhibit opened in Hague, Netherlands then came back to the international show in Houston, Texas. I have also been asked to go to Chicago next fall to go on a National TV program for a segment on my art. My mission is to get my work out there and to promote and show others that we have many talented artists here in Canada. I approached Durham West Arts Centre only to be told they are closing by end of March due to funding problems.

It's been extremely difficult to get my artwork into local shows here in Canada but not in the United States. The main reason is that people here have not had the chance to have this type of artwork out there for people to see. This is something we need to change so that we can show we are just as progressive in the arts. This calls for leaders like yourself not to look at things in a black and white view. People in this community count on our leaders to set examples and explore ways to help all constituents in their community enjoy a certain quality of life. I am just one member of your community but I am asking that you at least look at my artwork and listen to why I feel you are making a serious mistake by closing any art initiative in your community. 

Elizabeth Dillinger, www.edillinger.ca

TO The Honourable Steve Parish, Mayor of the Town of Ajax, and Members of Ajax Council and to the Honourable David Ryan, Mayor of the City of Pickering and Members of Pickering Council:

It has been brought to my attention that pilot project money for the Durham West Arts Centre (DWAC) will run out in March, and that the organization is seeking support from municipal councils in order to continue its worthwhile work. As a Durham Region resident and professional writer/editor who has benefited from the DWAC in numerous ways, I ask you to consider the importance of this venue as a valuable link for the arts in Ajax, across the Region and beyond. In addition to attending arts-related events at the Centre, I did a keynote speech there to help launch the book on writing that I published in 2005. I appreciated the exposure, and the captive audience that showed up to hear what I had to say.

I have been astounded at the breadth of the exhibits and performances DWAC has facilitated, and appreciate the efforts of Angie Littlefield and her helpers who care about the arts in this culture-rich area. The arts have long been a gauge of civilizations, and it is a wise government that recognizes the value of cultural, along with the educational, recreational and other lifestyle aspects residents need in their communities.

I am an internationally published, award-winning writer; I own two freelance writing businesses; I edit numerous regional and provincial magazines and newspaper sections; I have taught creative writing at Durham College (North Campus) for 10 years; I have been a member of The Writers’ Circle of Durham Region for 10 years (as well as serving on the board of directors for several years); and I belong to local writing circles in the Region. Ajax and the rest of Durham Region attract artists of all genres, and I understand well the importance of networking and of having physical spaces where people of like minds can get together to share their ideas and their work.

DWAC is an exceptional venue that adds to the rich lifestyle Ajax and Pickering residents enjoy. I cannot attend tonight’s meeting to voice my support in person, but I trust that you on the Council will recognize the importance of offering support to keep this venue going so the long-term goal of creating a Durham Arts Centre is kept alive.


Dorothea Helms,Owner
Write Stuff Writing Services and The Writing Fairy

TO: The Honourable Steve Parish, Mayor of the Town of Ajax, and members of Ajax Council.

Please add my voice, and those of my colleagues at LICHEN Arts & Letters Preview, in support of the Durham West Arts Centre. LICHEN is Durham Region's first and only literary journal, distributed nationally through Disticor in Ajax, and read internationally through subscription. As chair of LICHEN's board, I appeal for your thoughtful consideration of why DWAC is a valuable, essential link for Ajax artists with the larger community. I apologize for not speaking up sooner, but have only just returned from an extended bereavement leave.

I understand that the future of DWAC may depend upon decisions taken this evening. I can assure you that the Centre is a vital resource to Ajax, as well as the Region of Durham. Integrating the arts, and uniting the many diverse and divergent approaches to the arts industry, Angie Littlefield and the staff and volunteers of DWAC have provided a welcoming space—literally. Like most arts organizations, LICHEN is a non-profit group staffed almost entirely through the hard work of dedicated volunteers. Angie and DWAC have opened doors to us, allowing us to host a wildly successful issue launch of one of our issues. Our audience at DWAC included both local residents, and people who travelled from Toronto, the GTA, Ottawa and Quebec. Each one commented on the unique and welcoming space that DWAC affords.

Before that, and since, other members of the writing community have enjoyed the public profile DWAC affords. From memoirs, to poetry, to new writing business launches, DWAC has been a central location in which writers could hold public events. More than just a 'reading venue', Angie Littlefield has worked tirelessly to respond to local needs. Celebrating Black History Month in 2005, the centre hosted an evenings of readings that included Ajax writers and guests from outside the region. A retired Oshawa teacher recently launched at DWAC his chronicles of teaching on the reservations outside of Fort Frances. The stage and outdoor patio area has provided a wonderful summer-space for readings and performances. From seniors to teenagers, DWAC has served a wide and diverse population.

The arts community benefits from the influence and presence of the Durham West Arts Centre. And I am sure I do not have to tell you about the economic benefits a municipality derives from a vigorous and exciting arts community. The residents of Ajax have a true gem in the palm of their hands, and I encourage you all to support a long-term commitment to Angie Littlefield and the creative artists of Ajax.

I am unable to attend tonight's meeting, but would be more than pleased to respond to any questions you may have.

Ruth E. Walker
LICHEN Arts & Letters Preview

As a past president of the PineRidge Arts Council and an active part of the artistic growth in Ajax and Pickering, I strongly recommend that both Ajax and Pickering Councils approve financial support for the Durham West Arts Centre.

I applaud the efforts of Angie Littlefield who along with her group has worked tirelessly not only to enrich the lives of the residents of Ajax and Pickering, but to make the arts in Ajax and Pickering known to the Canadian Arts World. In such a short time the accomplishments of this group are astounding!

Over my five year absence, I have followed with pride the progress of the PineRidge Arts Council and the Durham West Arts Centre. Returning to Ontario several times a year, I have had the opportunity to attend some of the exhibitions at the Centre and found them to be of outstanding calibre. In the past two years, I have heard and read about, what I would consider, ground breaking events for the arts. Ajax and Pickering should be proud!

I congratulate both Councils for their years of support to the Pineridge Arts Council and hope both councils have the vision to see the opportunity of investing in what could become, a World Class Arts Centre.


Andrea Graham

Reading and Remembrance. It was stirring and important … we may have pictures, video clips to share next year! Good idea. Thanks for the book marks, poster, and tattoes. Very meaningful to continue.

Cora Bakker, Grade 4, Johnston Memorial

Municipal support for the ARTS conveys the positive image of a modern, prosperous community that has the amenities needed to attract industry and commerce. Markham as an example - high tech industries and vibrant arts community. This is not by accident!

Gary Bowen

The following achievements demonstrate the impact your support has had on our family but especially, Willow David, our daughter.

As one of the youngest members of DWAC, at 10 yrs of age, she has achieved the following …

  • Her work has been included in 10 exhibitions.
  • She has received 8 awards, 4 of them being 1st place awards … and two of those; consecutive 1st place awards for 2003 and 2004 Ajax's Annual Photography Contests … and including most recently, an Award of Excellence at the 7th Annual Juried Art Exhibition.
  • Her work has been published on 5 web sites and several publications of 2 newspapers.

DWAC's support for the youth of Durham is impressive "by the numbers" but your far reaching impact on a single artist is revealed in Willow David's achievements. Recently, Mayor Steve Parish presented a certificate of congratulations to Willow David for her first large exhibition … but, in fact, he was presenting a certificate to the youngest photographer in Canada to exhibit such a large show … a member of DWAC.

This could have not happened unless the Durham West Arts Centre and its support for Artists of all ages were not in place.

Your vision for Canada's future artists is as compelling as your support for Durham's established and internationally recognized artists.

Thank You, thank you, thank you,

Cyrus David,
International award winning editor, CTV
Award winning photographer
DWAC Member, PRAC Member

Media Coverage

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The dream of a performing arts centre

We have to find a solution for the arts

Arts centre provides plenty of value for your quarter

Arts centre seeks big funding increase

Centre offers mixed messages in profile of Durham artists