Wednesday, May 22, 2024
May 22, 2024

‘All hands on deck’ for ArtSpring’s 25th

By Kirsten Bolton

For ArtSpring

As ArtSpring readies itself to welcome the community in to its ambitious 25th Anniversary Festival April 17-21, it’s all hands on deck for organizers, staff, volunteers, and over 45 individual groups, artists, performers, speakers, and workshoppers who are preparing to bring this landmark celebration alive.  

Brought on to spearhead the planning and coordination of the five-day community-focused festival, Christina Penhale, a local actor and artistic director of StageCoach and exitStageLeft, left no stone unturned in her search to invite and find a diverse range of local talent.  

Apart from two sold-out concerts with headliner Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo fame, the acclaimed Vancouver writer and cultural commentator Max Wyman’s speaker presentation in partnership with Salt Spring Forum, celebrated pianist Jane Coop’s intimate recital, and visiting Japanese drum and shamisen musicians Keita Kanazashi and Chie Hanawa in association with the Salt Spring Japanese Garden Society – all other events and performers are proudly local.  

From seven local choirs appearing on stage in unison at the Opening Celebration to Cuban singer-songwriters at the Closing, face painters to glass blowing, shaking up Shakespeare to dance and interactive art projects, the festival promises to have something for everyone, including families.  

“The approach to planning this festival was very much about highlighting and being grateful for the diversity of local arts, crafts, and talent,” says Howard Jang, ArtSpring’s Executive and Artistic Director. “It is also about welcoming and inviting everyone, including those who have never been here or are new, to engage with the venue, each other, and the idea that this is where creative connections have a home.”    

April kicks off with a month-long lobby exhibition by local photographer and artist Seth Berkowitz and his interpretive visual history panels of ArtSpring’s colourful past including when the idea of ArtSpring was just a dream. Assembled from posters, promotional materials, programs, and news clippings from over the years, the experience will take visitors down memory lane or lead them to discover new insights.   

In addition to the archives of ArtSpring, Salt Spring Island Archives, and The Driftwood, mementos and memories were contributed by ArtSpring’s newly formed volunteer ArtSpring Community Roundtable Committee and members of the community at large. Earlier in March, the committee hosted a well-attended panel discussion of ArtSpring’s early days from the people who were there, including April Curtis, Sue Newman, Victoria Olchowecki, and Tom Toynbee.  

With a theme of celebrating the past, present, and future of arts and community, ArtSpring’s Festival also puts a spotlight on young performers of tomorrow.  

GISS music, dance, and Improv programs will be represented, alongside the ArtSpring-sponsored Makana Youth Choirs. A preview of Stagecoach’s upcoming Enchanted Bookshop, an elementary school art wall, and performers such as the youth folk band 19 Strings and Jim Cuddy’s opening act, GISS-graduate up-and-coming country musician Salome Cullen, all aim to kindle the spark in the next generation.  

To truly bring the festive spirit together, ArtSpring is hosting its first-ever Finger Food Potluck and Community Dance Party in the Bateman Gallery on Thursday April 18, featuring local favourite cover band Everyday People and cash bar. Prior to that at 5:00pm, an “open mic” stage will be available for talent who wish to sign up for a 10-minute slot to perform, share poetry, or do stand-up comedy.   

Opening and Closing Celebrations, Wax Wyman, and Jane Coop are priced at $10-$20, while all other activities are free. Printed schedules of the festival are now available as well as on the website. Events that require tickets or pre-registration are available through the Box Office.  

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