Last year, the English-Language Arts Network launched Arts Alive!, a summer-long festival celebrating the work of artists in our province. They called it “a moveable feast of music, theatre, dance, visual arts and film.” And that it was: from June to October, Quebecers were treated to art in every shape and size, from the West Island, to Wakefield, Hudson, Quebec City and beyond.
They have two stops left in this year’s second edition of Arts Alive!. I spoke to executive director Guy Rodgers to find out what we can expect from the festival over the next month, and for years to come.
Guy explained, “Arts Alive! was founded last year with the express intention of creating a circuit of cities that have a critical mass of population and facilities to put on these festivals.” After last year’s response, which he described as “frankly phenomenal,” the festival has evolved to include more hands-on community based workshops.
“This year, more of the artists actually live in the community. Rather than bringing some in, we’re putting the spotlight on local artists,” he said. So far, all four regional festivals – in Hudson, Quebec, Huntington, and Knowlton – have been “bigger and better” than last year. This year, Hudson’s artistic community kept adding to the festival until it stretched through the whole summer. After only two editions, the festival has already seen amazing growth and success.
Missed the last four community festivals for Arts Alive!? Don’t worry, there are still two more to come: Wakefield’s Ta Da festival is happening this weekend, and the festival comes a little closer to home in the West Island on September 24th.
“Wakefield is focused on adults and has incredible diversity,” explained Guy. “It’s a beautiful place in the Gatineau hills. There will be music, dance and theatre,” and, as he suggested, a wonderful choice for a day trip outside of the city.
The West Island festival, on the other hand, is more family-focused: “You can watch artists in a fairly passive way, or participate in workshops.” He continued: “There will be drawing, painting, costume making… And in the evening there will be three bands playing.” You can buy your tickets here for the Vintage Wine concert in Pointe-Claire, with openers Greg Halpin and Happenstance.
“ELAN,” Guy explained, “is an umbrella organization. We’re looking at ways for working with communities and artists, and making them work together.” In the years to come, he looks forward to working with more communities in Montreal. As for next year, they are hoping to be a part of the Canada 150 celebrations.
Arts Alive! is a celebration. To wrap up our interview, Guy told me: “We’re doing this for the community, so we want the community to come out and enjoy it. It will definitely be interesting and fun. And, a chance to learn something new.” Most importantly, through Arts Alive!, ELAN is giving communities the chance to gain crucial experience. With two years of large-scale festival planning and hosting under their belts, they can now apply for funding that makes these important artistic and communal events possible.
If you’re interested in getting your community involved with ELAN and Arts Alive!, you can find out more by checking out their website. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook for news and updates. And, of course, don’t forget to check it out this month!