Imagemakers in Mississauga: The art of success

By Michael Lashley

Is success an art or a science?

It is difficult to tell whether Mississauga’s success is the result of a rigorously scientific approach to socio-economic development or whether it is the indisputable evidence of the art of combining creative thinking with an innovative development strategy and an orderly roll-out of the implementation process.

I am satisfied that both explanations are relevant and valid. They complement each other because, in reality, they reflect the two sides of the same coin.

Therefore, on a point of journalistic ethics, I am proud to disclose that, both professionally as a business and public policy consultant and socially as a friend of many residents, community activists and persons involved in non-profit networks, I have personally witnessed and am helping to consolidate some of the successes mentioned in this commentary.

My main focus here is on one of the smaller entities whose current success and even greater potential deserve more public recognition and support: the Imagemakers 4 Art Gallery and Community Space in Port Credit, Mississauga.

This venture was originally founded as Imagemaker Art Prints by Beverly Tang-Kong, community arts director, art educator and artist. It has evolved into a collective with four more collaborators: Natalia Norton Photography, Emporium Loft Gallery, P3 Art Events and Pierre Photography.

The consequent process of synergy and cross-fertilization is moving into a new horizon that includes two initiatives in autism (ongoing classes and an upcoming documentary on the therapeutic successes of a young autistic artist) and an increased focus on the artistic aspects of photography. The theme for this month’s exhibition is Migration and it will be featured in the works of five artists.

There will be a formal opening reception today at 7 p.m. and a presentation on Art and Migration by a guest speaker on Thursday Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.

As they strengthen their own community of artists and art enthusiasts, the members of the Imagemakers partnership are also making a breakthrough in securing business development opportunities for themselves in the marketing programs and promotional events of government agencies and of private companies seeking to increase their sales of products and services.

That practical example of making their creative skills relevant to their own and to their clients’ business development strategies is one of their most significant contributions to Mississauga. It is at the very heart of the process of innovation and critical thinking which comes naturally to artists and which pushes other sectors of the society forward on the path of major achievements.

The “sector” most commonly recognized and credited for such innovation and critical thinking is the governmental sector, under the enlightened and inspiring political leadership of the city’s forceful development strategist Mayor Hazel McCallion. She embodies the art of leadership.

Another sector credited with the art of thinking outside the box is the business community. Imbued with the spirit of success, Mississauga Board of Trade (MBOT) explores the benefits of partnerships. MBOT President Sheldon Leiba has empowered his team to launch an initiative called Advantage Mississauga which in turn has given birth to “Talent Connections” (TC).

With the support of the municipal government, TC builds bridges between the business sector and the academic community in order to better satisfy the human resource needs of companies as well as the training, mentorship and employment aspirations of the post-secondary students of Sheridan College and the University of Toronto/Scarborough.

The project’s Business Innovation Connector Rosa Lokaisingh harnesses the critical thinking of business people, students, consultants and advisors, in a pioneering strategy aimed at eliminating the barriers that isolate the world of work from the world of learning.

The art of solution-oriented thinking and action led MBOA member Syd Martin and his colleagues at Affimex Customs and Trade Services (ACTS) to conceptualize, create and make available to business and governments all over the world a digital One-Stop-Shop for all aspects of national and international trade.

One more example of the art of creative strategizing is provided by MBOT member Bill Dennis who set up a trail-blazing service that provides businesspeople with top-quality training in the cultural intelligence, cross-cultural techniques and cross-generational skills required for doing business with persons and companies from different cultures and age-groups.

The next time you see Mississauga’s Marilyn Munroe Towers, don’t just think of art and architecture, stare at the art and the success of daring to think creatively. Then head for Imagemakers 4 at 175 Lakeshore Rd. E., not far from where the native peoples established their river port at the mouth of the Credit River.