Local Hero: Wayne Baguley and his silky friend in front of “Sheba” by Gabrielle Fischer Horvath at the Alton Mill.
Wayne Baguley: One of our 2012 Local Heroes
Real Estate Agent in Rock Star’s Clothing
At first it seems curious. How did Wayne Baguley, best known for selling country real estate, become president of Headwaters Arts? But it takes only a short time talking with this bespectacled rocker – part Geddy Lee, part Old MacDonald – to realize there’s nothing curious about it. Heading up the region’s non-profit arts organization and its signature annual event, the two-week Headwaters Arts Festival, is a perfect fit for a man with a true passion for all things creative.
Wayne played drums for a rock band in the Toronto area for five years in the 1970s, and then switched to managing other acts. During 15 years in the management role, he was active in the wider music industry, earning an honorary Juno Award in 1989 in recognition of time served on the Juno board of directors. He also sat on the board of the Canadian Independent Record Production Association.
By the time he received the Juno, Wayne had already made what he describes as the “difficult” decision to leave music. Wanting to start a family, he bought a farm near Orton in 1988 and embarked on a real estate career. His three sons are now aged 25, 22 and 20. The farm has gradually collected an eclectic assortment of animals that often appear in his real estate ads, including ostriches, an emu, pot-bellied pigs, swans and a zedonk (a zebra/horse cross).
Wayne takes a similar overseer-of-a-diverse-but-happy-family approach to his role as president of Headwaters Arts, but that is married with a keen business sense. In particular, he sees a strong connection between the local arts scene and economic development. “Every time there’s a big show at Theatre Orangeville, every restaurant in town is full. There are jobs to build those businesses, jobs to run them, a big effect outside art itself.” He also acknowledges that a strong local arts scene helps attract new residents to the area, and that’s good for real estate.
This tirelessly enthusiastic cultural promoter believes deeply in the merits of introducing young people to the arts and fostering their creative abilities. “I know we have talent out there that’s still undiscovered, maybe even genius.” But again he adds a practical note. “One responsibility we have to young people is to make them realize this could be a job. We need to teach the business of the arts, and help these people manage their careers.”
One of Wayne’s favourite projects over his five years in the president’s chair has been the development of a Headwaters Arts scholarship program. So far, the $1,000 awards, open to Grade 12 students pursuing higher education in the field, include the Paul Burdette Visual Arts Scholarship, the Dan Hill Music Scholarship, and this year’s addition, the Shelley Peterson Literary Scholarship. Next year will include the Karen Kain Dance Scholarship. And, he says, “We’ve still got theatre and film to do.”
In October this year, Headwaters Arts and the Seaton Group were recognized with The Globe and Mail Business for the Arts Best Entrepreneurial Partnership Award for their work together redeveloping the Alton Mill Arts Centre.
A couple of years ago, proving his commitment goes to the core, Wayne had boxer shorts made, emblazoned with his personal motto: “High on Arts.”