Resident Letter: Ashamed Resident of Richmond Hill – Arts and Culture

Dear Mayor Barrow and members of Council,

For those whom I have not had the pleasure of engaging with before, I am an award-winning filmmaker who regularly volunteers in our city’s schools to talk about independent filmmaking. I recently produced and directed From the Vine (2019), an international coproduction set around the world of Italian wine, starring Emmy winner Joe Pantoliano (The Sopranos, The Matrix, Memento, Risky Business).

I also produced and directed the critically acclaimed teen cancer drama Kiss and Cry (2017), which topped the English-Canadian box office upon its release, and is currently streaming on Netflix worldwide. That film, which is touching the lives of so many around the world, could not have been possible without Richmond Hill, who, in 2015, provided a small grant to write the first draft of that script. I think Richmond Hill should be proud to have its logo featured in Kiss and Cry as a cultural contributor, especially as it can be seen in so many countries around the world. In addition, in 2017, I was awarded a Canada 150 Citizenship Award for Thought Leadership by the Federal Government for “dedication to and community engagement in the arts”.

Today, however, I am ashamed to be a resident of the City of Richmond Hill. When the motion passed to deny the small amount of cultural funding set aside for contributing to the vibrancy of our city, and the engagement we have as artists with our community, I was shocked. It proved to me that culture does not matter to this council. That the arts do not matter to this council.

I was looking forward to presenting at this year’s upcoming Cultural Summit, but have withdrawn my participation, as I do not wish to contribute to a city who does not respect its cultural creators and ambassadors.

It does, however, seem quite fitting that certain councillors consistently referred to sewers as being of prime importance to Richmond Hill, because the one thing they know about is, well, shit.

It is my sincere hope that future iterations of city Council see the value that arts and culture bring to our formerly vibrant community.

Microphone drop,

Sean Cisterna

P.S. – If we are in the mood for taking things away from others, I would also like to propose that certain councillors be removed from the Oak Ridges Library Board. Our valued libraries are full of books written by writers and poets, music composed by musicians, and films made by filmmakers, and should be presided over by those with a modicum of cultural appreciation.

Sean Cisterna | Director, Producer

Mythic Productions Inc || M 416 618 5035

Follow our new film on Facebook and Instagram @fromthevinemovie

#myrichmondhill #yorkregion #CBC

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