From repetitive motion injuries to PTSD, artists are subject to different health risks than the general public. Here’s what needs to be done about it.
WORDS: LEAH SANDALS
It was a story that made international headlines. A Toronto artist, Gillian Genser, spent more than a decade working on a sculpture made of blue mussel shells. Over the years, she developed headaches, chronic pain, vomiting.
“I visited a never-ending assortment of specialists—neurologists, rheumatologists, endocrinologists—hoping to figure out what was wrong with me,” Genser wrote in Toronto Life recently. “When they asked me if I worked with anything toxic, I said no, that I only used natural materials.” Only later did Genser learn, by happenstance, that blue mussels can be filled with toxic heavy metals.
While Genser’s art, and her related story of heavy-metal poisoning, has found a wide audience, the fact is that many, many artists in Canada put their health at risk over the course of their creative practice.
“In professional orchestras, there is an 84% lifetime prevalence [of injury] and a 50/50 chance of playing hurt,” says Dr. John Chong, Medical Director of the Musicians’ Clinics of Canada. “And musicians may be up to three times more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression compared to the public.”
Chong has worked on musicians’ health since the 1980s—including, in some cases, PTSD from high pressure and other professional factors. Chong says the conditions of being a musician, including poor pay and precarious employment, are part of what create these worrying health statistics. He says he hears the same from his colleagues in the international Performing Arts Medicine Association.
“The nature of the [music] business is basically self-employed jobbers,” says Chong. “Very few performing musicians have full-time jobs, so basically if you get hurt and miss a gig due to injury, you are replaced very quickly.” That leads to more pressure to keep illness and injury a secret, as well as more stress and worry.
Many other kinds of artists in Canada, from dancers to painters to filmmakers, share these work conditions—and associated health risks, says Julie Dawn Smith, executive director of the Artists’ Health Alliance.
“The myths about artists … along with the devaluation of art in our society as ‘frivolous’ or a ‘luxury’ overlook the fact that creating art is damn hard work, physically, mentally and emotionally,” says Smith. “And, until recently, it has also been very difficult for artists to disclose physical or mental health issues to their community for fear of losing creative opportunities.”
Smith points out that conflicts between societal and personal expectations of art can cause additional stress—and lower economic returns.
“An artist’s life demands intense dedication, emotional vulnerability, mental toughness, self-reliance, rigorous training and a relentless drive toward perfection,” Smith notes. “Artists shape creative impulses into creative work that, when released into the world, is scrutinized using non-artistic benchmarks.”
“Someone’s physical injury [in dance or music] can lead directly to anxiety about what that means for paying the rent—and that can spiral into depression about all the barriers to moving forward,” says McMurren.
Psychological hazards also come in transitioning to professional artmaking—whether it’s in instrumentalizing a formerly pleasurable practice, or identifying so much with the artist role that any threat to professional survival feels like an existential crisis.
“I find it fascinating that, from what I’ve seen in my practice, a lot of people who are now professional artists really connected with art as a form of therapy early in life,” McMurren says. Later, they have to “manage a conflict between something that’s healing and something that’s moneymaking—often it comes with a host of compromises and challenges, particularly what has been sacrificed in order to make ends meet.”
The good news in all of this, though, is that some awareness is growing about these problems, and how they can be treated.
Dr John Chong Daily Planet Discovery Channel - YouTube
At Dr. John Chong’s clinics in Hamilton and Toronto, a multimodal approach is available to each musician-patient. Even a repetitive strain injury that seems simple to a layperson might require a combination of biofeedback, psychological counseling, and computerized analysis. “If you integrate mind and body and encourage healthy technique and healthy behavior—which includes better thinking as well as self-care—you are going to get much better results than the older models [of care] which overused prescribed medications,” says Chong.
Chong also sees hope in the growth of the Performing Arts Medicine Association, in the increasing collaborations between its doctors and those in the longer-running sports medicine field, and in pilot programs that are bringing more health awareness courses to younger artists in music schools and training programs.
“I’ve been working with the National Youth Orchestra,” says Chong. He notes: “Risk of performance anxiety and suicidality is high when musicians are on tour and youth are at particularly high risk at that age, so it’s important work.”
“A number of organizations are addressing artists’ health and wellness on a number of levels,” says Smith, “including Workman Arts, Over the Bridge, SKETCH Working Arts, AFC, C*SARN, Cue, and so on. Combined, our efforts are starting to address the needs of the arts community on a larger scale.”
Indeed, artists’ health and arts-industry health is also at the forefront of organizations like Actsafe in Vancouver, which coordinates safety resources for motion-picture industry professionals, among other activities. Also in BC, Calltime: Mental Health aims to support BC motion picture-workers and their families. The Dancer Transition Resource Centre in Ottawa helps dance artists navigate psychological and physical challenges. Even indie record labels like Toronto’s Royal Mountain have stepped forward this year to dedicate mental health support funds to artists.
“The needs of a professional artist are often quite specific and quite misunderstood,” says Dr. Chase McMurren of the Artists’ Health Centre. “That’s why we feel really committed to supporting people who have found themselves on a professional art path. We are very aware of the hazards that come with their work.”
Photo/media credits (in order of appearance):
[RE]ROOF Performance at Winnipeg Design Festival at The Forks Parkade. Winnipeg, MB. 2018. Courtesy of the City of Winnipeg.
Life Drawing and Live Music at the Tett Centre for Ontario Culture Days. Kingston, ON. 2018. Courtesy of Liz Cooper.
Street artist at The Exchange District Park for Nuit Blanche Winnipeg. Winnipeg, MB. 2018. Courtesy of Juan Manuel.
Musicians' Clinics of Canada. "Dr. John Chong Daily Planet Discovery Channel." Online video clip. YouTube, 3 May 2016. Web.
Pop art, retro royalty-free stock image. Date unknown. Sourced from Shutterstock.com.
Ballet Workshop at Kingston City Hall for Ontario Culture Days. Kingston, ON. 2018. Courtesy of Liz Cooper.
WORDS: Frédéric Julien, Director of Research and Development, CAPACOA
More and more Canadians are living alone. In 2016, for the first time, one-person households became the most common type of household in Canada, surpassing couples with children. Should this be seen as a concern or as an opportunity for performing arts organizations, whose offering is essentially a social activity?
One-person households accounted for 28% of all households in 2016, representing 4 million Canadians. Further, most people who live alone previously had a partner and have at least one child. Almost three-quarters (72%) of people living alone aged 20 and older had previously lived as part of a married or common-law couple, and over half (55%) had at least one child. Among solo dwellers who had a dependent-aged child from a previous union, 59% indicated that their child lived with them for some period of time in the previous year.
People living alone might have more flexibility with their time use than couples with children, which could be a good thing for performing arts organizations. However, Statistics Canada notes that “the presence of a child or partner in one's life is likely to affect the decisions and consumption patterns of people living alone, including choices regarding housing, furniture, entertainment, food and daily routines.” Housing costs for example can be an issue for many people living alone. In 2016, 41% of one-person households had monthly shelter costs considered not affordable (that is, representing 30% or more of their average monthly household income), compared with 17% of other households. And, whenever free time isn’t matched with disposable income, access barriers to the performing arts persist.
But solo dwelling could also have an impact on other obstacles to participation. Among them, “having no one to go with” is often mentioned in audience surveys. This attitudinal obstacle can be a real barrier for outings, such as a live performing arts event, that are perceived as social activities.
Living alone doesn’t necessarily equate loneliness. As Statistics Canada points out, “many individuals living alone have close connections with loved ones, such as a child from a previous relationship or a partner from whom they live apart.” Living alone may in fact be an affirmative choice. This would be the case for one in three young adults (aged 20 to 34) who were in a "living apart together" relationship, meaning that they were in a couple with someone residing elsewhere.
This being said, living alone does raise questions about prevalence of social isolation and loneliness in society. For example, individuals living alone reported lower levels of self-rated health, mental health and satisfaction with life overall than people living with others. These indicators of well-being are known to be closely associated with social indicators such as the presence of social support networks or a strong sense of belonging in one’s community.
How can arts organizations offer programs or pricing strategies that enable lonely Canadians living alone, and especially those who feel lonely, to overcome financial barriers and/or to break out from the cycle of isolation?
How can arts organizations design programs that deliberately foster social connections and enhance sense of belonging?
How can arts organizations create experiences that makes it easy for everyone to participate, even if they have no one to go with.
In order to address these important questions, Culture Days and CAPACOA are proposing two online gatherings:
Deepening Sense of Belonging Through Arts and Culture Wednesday, April 24th, 2:00 pm (EDT) Register here
The Social Conundrum of Arts Participation Thursday, May 9th, 1:00 pm (EDT) Register here
Photo credits (in order of appearance):
Workshops at Centre Stage Theatre 3, Summerland, BC, 2018. Courtesy of Mike Biden.
Culture Days at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, MB, 2018. Courtesy of Liz Tran.
Culture Days at the Alberta University of the Arts, Calgary, AB. 2018. Courtesy of Jeremy Pavka.
There’s a visual arts studio with ventilated spray-paint booth. There’s audio gear for mixing beats. There’s a fashion studio with sergers and sewing machines.
There’s also social workers and addictions counselors—some of the more traditional supports for youth with mental health and addictions.
“Our arts-based approach gives us the capacity to allow social workers and addictions counselors to engage in a different way than if we were a social services agency,” says Steve Pirot, iHuman Youth’s artistic director. “I’m fond of saying 90% of our programming is that the studios are open.”
Young artists use the studio in different ways. Some mend holes in their jeans. Others paint narratives of addiction on canvas. And others design graffiti using Cree syllabics. The latter activity is part of the Cree Dictionary Project, a program that recognizes the intergenerational Indigenous trauma caused by residential schools and racism.
“We provide a safe space for young artists to express themselves,” says Pirot, “especially given that we might be the only place they have to get it out.”
That’s just one of Canada’s many arts programs aimed at supporting mental health and resilience. From Fredericton’s Recovery Art Studio, to Montreal’s Les Impatients, to Nunavut’s Alianait Mental Health Awareness Tour, this movement is growing.
Portable art carts are a newer resource for inpatient treatment at the Canadian Association for Mental Health. “Creating and engaging through art provides an alternative way to cope and an outlet to channel emotions,” CAMH says. But you don’t have to be in a hospital setting to benefit.
Ajay Herble, director of Guelph’s International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, says music—particularly improvised music process—can boost wellness.
“We have sites across Canada at six universities, and we have 40 partners, from community health centres to music festivals to art galleries,” says Herble. “Music’s not a surefire corrective to all the world’s problems—but it can play an important role in terms of quality of life. We’ve seen the benefits and impacts for multiple years with multiple projects.”
KidsAbility youth do musical improv workshops with a professional artist, culminating with a performance at the festival.
“We found increased self-esteem on the part of youth participants, and improved self-expression and self-confidence,” says Herble. “There’s increased ability to listen, to focus, an increased sense of cohesion and leadership skills.”
Improvising can also make room for acceptance of difference—a very important factor in mental-health and neurodiversity settings.
“Improvising helps creates a space outside of the usual limiting expectations,” Herble says. “There are no wrong notes in an improvised musical performance.”
Music is also a tool used by Workman Arts’ Bruised Years Choir. This Toronto group is comprised of artists living with mental health and addiction issues. They’ve sung at the Invictus Games, the Luminato Festival, and the Royal Ontario Museum.
“The feedback we get from artists in our programs is very positive,” says Claudette Abrams, Workman Arts’ visual arts manager. “Data indicates that artists gain confidence from participation and feel more connected to others. They feel more prepared to pursue their ideas and goals.”
Abrams first came to Workman Arts as one of its 300 member artists. The facilities include visual art, theatre, and dance—Abrams herself does a lot of photo-based artwork. But as in the choir, there’s strength found in shared creation and experience.
“I felt very much a sense of belonging” upon joining Workman Arts, says Abrams. “Outing yourself through your artwork is a real challenge, and there’s a lot of stigma; it’s hard to do that on your own. Having a supportive community for voicing concerns helps.”
“When we started, almost all the instructors were trained staff,” says Ann Webborn, occupational therapist at Recovery Through Art. “Now, we encourage our members to become assistants in class, and then instructors. Currently, 95% of the instructors are people who’ve had mental illness or addictions.”
All instructors are paid, too, and get the positive mental boost of helping others learn art techniques that’ve helped them. “It’s never good with a mental illness to be not doing anything,” Sean Kidd, CAMH’s chief of psychology, states. That “allow[s] for space and time to worry and ruminate.”
Recovery Through Art was founded by occupational and recreational therapists who recognized art’s benefits for their patients decades ago.
“The art studios are model for psychosocial rehab,” says Bev Knight, Recovery Through Art’s chair. “Art is a great form of occupational therapy because you can do it at home, or you can do it with a group. You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment. It’s a life-long skill that’s really healthy.”
At a scary and isolating time, being a student in Recovery Through Art’s scheduled classes offers a sense of purpose and commitment that supports mental health.
“After some people have had breakdowns, their confidence is so low,” says Webborn. “Some people with schizophrenia have lived through times when they didn’t know what reality was, so getting out [of the house] can be very intimidating.”
In the studio, though, “there can be a warmth …. people come out and they have a schedule in their lives. They meet other people. They have peers who they start to relate to. They enjoy the artwork. They find they can do something. And the confidence grows.”
A Recovery Through Art member once wrote: “The studios focused on my ability rather than my disability.”
And that, in itself, is a very beautiful—and very healthy—thing.
Photo credits (in order of appearance):
Artist Hanan Hazime with her 2018 piece, Bursting Bubbles. Courtesy of Workman Arts.
iHuman Youth Audio Studios. Courtesy of iHuman Youth.
iHuman Youth Visual Arts Studios. Courtesy of iHuman Youth.
KidsAbility youth performing at the Guelph Jazz Festival. Courtesy of KidsAbility.
iHuman Youth Fashion Studios. Courtesy of iHuman Youth.
With artists sketching at hospital bedsides and doctors writing prescriptions for museum visits, links are growing between arts and medicine sectors in Canada
WORDS: LEAH SANDALS
Imagine being sung to before surgery. Picture weavings in a medical procedure room. Visualize a painter’s canvas and palette next to a hospital bed. In different parts of Canada, these imaginings—and more—are reality. From coast to coast, links are growing between arts and medicine.
Last year, Memorial University Medical School in St. John’s launched an art gallery, and Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum offered free visits to community health centre patients. In 2017–2018, the Artists in Healthcare program at Manitoba’s St. Boniface Hospital helped 19,000 patients. And in 2017, Interior Health in BC kicked off an art project on breastfeeding and maternal health that reached more than a dozen communities, including hands-on workshops with professional artists.
Research is also showing the value of expanding arts and wellness programs. A study released in November 2018 by the Montreal Jewish Hospital, the McGill Centre of Excellence on Longevity and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts showed that participation in cultural activities such as painting or drawing not only improves well-being and quality of life in the health of some people aged 65 or over, but also enhances their health. A University of Waterloo study released in December 2018 found that drawing enhanced memory retention in older adults more than writing or other study techniques—a finding its authors think could be applied to help people with dementia. Reflecting a wider acceptance of arts’ importance in medicine, the Canadian Medical Association Journal, in June 2018, published Encounters, a book of prose and poetry aiming to illuminate the more emotional, creative side of medical practice and patient experience.
The Healing Arts Program at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon has a drop-in art studio for visitors, patients and the public. There’s also an artist-in-residence, writer-in-residence, and musician-in-residence. These practitioners visit patients on wards and offer community outreach beyond the walls of the hospital, which is situated among vulnerable inner-city populations.
“The relationship is the foundation” of the healing there, says St. Paul’s artist in residence and program co-creator Marlessa Wesolowski. “It could be a five-minute relationship or one built over many years. We have a dialysis unit, so there are people who come in the studio many times. But it could be at bedside, it could be in a hallway, it could be in a family waiting area with a mobile studio, too.”
Writer in residence Kristine Scarrow says her health has benefited from the arts, and she tries to pay that forward at St. Paul’s.
“Besides the psychological benefits, there are real medical health markers: lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, lower levels of pain reported,” says Scarrow via email. “Engaging in the arts, in any fashion, can lessen symptoms, alleviate psychological distress, arm the participant with tools and resources, and build resilience.”
The Artists on the Wards program at University of Alberta Hospital and Mazankowski Heart Institute in Edmonton has been going strong for 20 years. The in-hospital McMullen Gallery also opened in the 1980s. Now, in the 21st century, those arts programs continue to grow.
“There’s a lot of different organizations around Edmonton that deal with arts and health,” says Tyler Sherard, Executive Director, Friends of University Hospitals. Momentum continues to build in the city: “In November, Mayor Don Iveson even declared the first Arts and Health Month.”
The Artists on the Wards Program is multidisciplinary: Visual, literary, musical, dance, theatre and even clown artists have made an impact.
“One of the unofficial mottos of the program is that we aren’t focused on what’s wrong with the patient—we’re focused on what’s right with the patient,” says Sherard. “We have patients say, when they’re participating in a workshop or an activity, that they’re reminded they’re so much more than just their diagnosis.”
The Artists on the Wards Program operates by referral, but it’s not limited to a therapy model. And the hospital’s art collection doesn’t just rest in its gallery; hundreds of its paintings, prints and drawings are spread throughout wards and buildings.
“With visual artists, we might do a hands-on activity, looking at how to paint a certain thing. But other times, it could just be responding to a patient’s request to make a drawing of their dog,” Sherard explains. “Musicians might bring an instrument for people to play along with—and then other times they might help a patient fall asleep better by playing songs from their childhood as they rest.”
The healing power of art is also being centred at leading museums. This fall, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts gained international acclaim when it announced a pilot that would permit physicians to write patient prescriptions for free visits.
“We have the unique opportunity to use the museum’s collection as a jumping off point,” says Stephen Legari, Educational Programmes Officer, Art Therapy, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. “A group of adults with certain problems might find art that can help them communicate that problem, or help them sort out part of that problem.”
One of the groups the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts works with is the Centre de Services de Justice Réparatrice. In a recent session on boundaries and transitions, the group looked at John Everett Millais’ St Martin’s Summer (1878) and John MacWhirter’s The Valley of Slaughter, Skye (1876).
“Art can generate a sense of identification,” says Legari. “In such sessions, we can deepen that and have a reflective component where people are invited to speak about their own experiences and hopefully get some measure of benefit. It’s not that there is a specific kind of response that we are looking at eliciting—people are welcome to not like the art and state reasons why—but what we are hoping it will elicit some personal reflection.”
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts also has a drop-in art therapy studio, as well as programs custom-designed for specific organizations, including Ruban Rose, Autisme Sans Limite, the Douglas Institute Eating Disorders Program, and the Centre for Excellence on Partnership with Patients and the Public. The museum has also tailored programs for children with developmental disabilities, adults with Alzheimer’s, and more.
“We’re looking to offer participants a feeling that they belong, that they can express themselves, and that they find a place here,” says Legari. “Cultural activities have the possibility to invite you out of your habitual sphere—someone can have a rich family life can still feel isolated because they are the only ill person in their family.”
What’s next for these and other art and health programs in Canada? More exploration, experimentation and empowerment.
“We need to be supporting this work and expanding programming,” states writer Kristine Scarrow of St. Paul’s. Adds her colleague, artist Marlessa Wesolowski: “The arts allow space for patients to share their story in any form—so then they can develop more ability to advocate for themselves.”
Photos credits (in order of appearance):
A patient participates in an Artist on the Wards group program. Photo: Rachel Denholm
Staff Artists on the Wards Bev Ross and Sparrow Brulotte. Photo: Aspen Zettel
Staff Artist on the Wards Bev Ross, leads a Harp Relaxation for Patients, Family and Hospital Staff at McMullen Gallery, during Under the Surface, November 2018
John MacWhirter (1839-1911), The Valley of Slaughter, Skye, 1876, oil on canvas. Gift of Lord Strathcona and family. Photo MMFA, Brian Merrett
Haven't started your Nuit Blanche Winnipeg planning? It's not too late.
Here is our list of #nbwpg's top ten installations, exhibitions and hands-on art to explore!
The Forks Parkade: A collaborative collection of art, design and film! [RE]ROOF by Winnipeg Design Festival - Winnipeg Design Festival finale event will highlight local designers through Architectural In[stall]ations, furniture, fashion, music & more. Gimli Film Festival Encore Screening - Check out two encore screenings from the 2018 Gimli Film Festival including GFF’s BEST OF FEST pick, Minding the Gap and Terror Nullius. Wall-to-Wall Mural and Culture Festival Finale #2 - Don’t take the stairs, take the ramp! Walk along the rampway to see #walltowallwpg’s newest murals painted by Toronto artists Ness Lee, BirdO and local artist-mentees Rene “Twio” Marriott and Bria Fernandez.
TELUS Network of Art at The Forks - Come explore Canada’s largest and fastest mobile network through an immersive art installation. Spanning 85 x 70 feet, hundreds of colourful spheres at varying heights will be strategically placed to resemble the vast landscape of Canada.
Pop Up Pow Wow by Urban Shaman - BYOR (Bring your own regalia) & get #OnBeat with Sons of the Drum at our two, pop-up, outdoor, family-friendly locations in the heart of Winnipeg. The body of Indigenous regalia and dance encompasses a rich tradition of kinship and spirituality. Location #1. Wall-to-Wall Finale at Main St. and Sutherland Ave.
Location #2. Under The Canopy at The Forks
Now That’s What I Call a 90s Sing Along - Frost your tips, rip your jeans, dunk your roos, pop your 90s dancemix in your discman and relive one of the weirdest decades by singing along to some of the best (and worst) hits of the neon 90s! Prizes for most 90s hair and outfit!
Illuminate Your Creativity - Join Studio Central (a project of Artbeat Studio) at Central Park to get involved in a collaborative art project. Get painting with our glow in the dark face and fabric paints to fill in a stencil image created by one of our alumni artists. Plus take in an improv set and get cozy by the fire pit.
Flow In The Dark - A black light yoga party, hosted by CBC Manitoba’s Marjorie Dowhos. You wear your brightest brights + whites. We provide glow sticks, neon paint + yoga mats. A DJ spins deep beats. And Yogi Marisa Cline guides a stimulating flow class. Together, we create an awesome night of yoga, music + art. Register for your spot!
Nuit Noire AfroPeg at artspaceinc. - As Winnipeg grows, it’s home to a large population of Winnipeg’s Black community, Black Space Winnipeg hopes to create an evening that celebrates history, heritage and culture during Nuit Blanche. Nuit Noire will bring together a community to foster meaningful engagement and community development.
Mini Nuit Blanche at the Children’s Museum - Come spark your creative learning after dark by enjoying free admission to the museum galleries! It’s going to be a magical night filled with bubbles! Who said bubbles were just for the bathtub?
Nuit Blanche @ The WAG - Dig out your ripped tights, leather jacket, or a scrunchie and join us for a radical 80s celebration at the WAG. Take in art from the exhibition, The 80’s Image, dance with local DJs, watch retro music videos, and play a round of Pacman or Frogger in the classic game arcade. Don’t have any 80s attire? No problem! Create your own bedazzled accessories! The WAG is the official after-hours spot of #nbwpg and is open until 4 a.m.
It's not on our Top Ten, only because we know it's the obvious MUST SEE of Nuit Blanche Winnipeg 2018!
Impulse presented by the Winnipeg Arts Council, produced by Quartier des Spectacles (Montreal) and created by Lateral Office (Toronto) and CS Design. Impulse is a publicly activated light and sound experience made up of illuminated seesaws. When put into motion by people, the seesaws form units of light and sound to create an ever-changing composition powered by play. Impulse is an urban instrument where the public are the musicians and artists. By playing on the seesaws, you create a dynamic light and sound wave giving a pulse to the urban atmosphere. Impulse will be installed in Old Market Square in the Exchange District from September 29 until October 3.
CONTROL NO CONTROL by Colombian-born, Montreal based artist Daniel Iregui is an interactive LED sculpture that invites the audience to use their hands and body to act on its audiovisual patterns. Presented as a stranding monolith, simple geometric forms repeat to create patterns that are in constant movement as they wait for interaction. When someone approaches the monolith and touches the surface, the patterns react re-configuring its sound and visual properties allowing the person, or many, to create their own new patterns. As people explore different gestures and how the sculpture reacts to them, one can question - who is controlling who. CONTROL NO CONTROL will be installed in Bijou Park in the Exchange District.
Culture Days Manitoba is coming into its 9th year with the province's record-breaking number of events from September 28 to 30, 2018. Culture Days in Manitoba will be celebrated in 26 communities, towns and cities in Manitoba and will feature 470 free activities, up 20 events from 2017.
This year, Culture Days Manitoba has embraced the national theme, #OnBeat, focusing on rhythm and highlighting how percussion permeates artistic expression universally. OnBeat will not only connect all 26 communities across Manitoba, but connect to the 3,451 events happening across Canada for Culture Days!
No matter your age or skill-level, Culture Days is a chance to try something new, revisit existing creative passions and build appreciation for arts and culture that will hopefully continue year-round.
This year’s Manitoba hubs include Dauphin, Flin Flon, Gimli, Morden, Virden, and The Pas.
“This three-day event is an opportunity to create, participate and share arts and culture while building relationships and celebrating Manitoba’s diversity. We encourage everyone to rediscover their city or community as they explore the full range of Culture Days and Nuit Blanche activities,” says Mélissa Courcelles, Project Manager, Culture Days Manitoba and Nuit Blanche Winnipeg.
This year’s Culture Days and Nuit Blanche festivities will include visual arts, heritage, Indigenous arts and traditional practices, cross-cultural activities, educational tours, community street festivals, collective art-making projects, interactive installations, storytelling, avant-garde performance art and more.
This year, we've selected our top 10 events across Manitoba that exemplifies what it means to be #OnBeat in Manitoba!
Dancing Down Main Street in Flin Flon, MB - Dancing Down Main Street is exactly what it sounds like. Absolutely no experience necessary and pet friendly (if your pets like to dance.) This year, we are dancing to on original song "Summertime " by local Flin Flon musician, Evan Zach.
Culture On The Crescent in Portage La Prairie, MB - Follow the beat of your heart and down the pathway of Portage La Prairie’s Crescent Lake for hands-on workshops, live performances and more.
Piñatas on the Beat by MexYcan Association at Théâtre Cercle Molière in Winnipeg, MB Piñatas have been part of the Mexican tradition for hundreds of years, bringing celebration and joy to the people involved. Learn what they represent and their history through workshops and a pinata breaking celebration. (They’re also part of Nuit Blanche!)
MB DANCE DAY at the RWB in Winnipeg, MB - A collaboration between Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Dance Manitoba Inc., and Rainbow Stage invites all ages and levels to come together and to learn an original piece of Hip Hop choreography by three local Hip Hop choreographers culminating in a informal performance. Register Online!
Pictures at an Exhibit in Flin Flon, MB - Accomplished and acclaimed local artists, musician and improvisational expert, Mark Kolt, will musically interpret the visual art and current exhibition at the NorVA Centre. You've never heard art sound so sweet.
Poetry Slam at the PHAC in Morden, MB - Get you “word” on at The Pembina Hills Arts Council! Friday night, the PHAC will open its door and invite community members for a spirited Poetry Slam.
MASS Appeal - Percussion by Winnipeg Arts Council in WInnipeg, MB - Mass Appeal is public concert series. Anyone who wants to participate, can! Led by professional percussion Scott Senior (The Duhks, Trio Bembe), participants will learn how to play a series of songs on the spot. Bring your own instrument or use one of the drums provided. Practice the songs beforehand, massappealwinipeg.ca.
Dauphin’s Yardfringe in Dauphin, MB - Petal to the beat with a bicycle tour and be part of part of a collaborative art project, watch a short play, listen to a musical performance or sing-along, or try your hand at reader's theatre.
Drumming to the Beat with Val Vint and WHEAT Institute at the Forks in Winnipeg - Join us in an Indigenous drumming circle with Metis cultural teacher Val Vint, who has been offering drumming and singing circles around Manitoba for 30+ years.
Words by Lynette La Fontaine, BC Culture Days Ambassador (Prince George)
I would like to start off by introducing myself in my cultural, traditional Cree/Métis way. Muskwamostos kesigok iskew nisagason ekwa Lynette La Fontaine. My spirit name roughly translates as bear buffalo heaven woman and I was given the French name of Lynette
La Fontaine at birth, I was born in Burns Lake, raised on the traditional, unceded territory of the Stellat’en, near Fraser Lake, BC. I am Metis with family ties in northern Saskatchewan and the Red River settlement. I now reside on the traditional, unceded territory of the Lheidli T’enneh, also known as the settler city of Prince George. I am a mom of two teenage kids; I work as a community health nurse; I am an emerging Indigenous artist working in the media of Métis beadwork and acrylic painting; and I am currently finishing a yearlong artist in residence program with Studio 2880 in Prince George, BC. I was approached and asked if I would like to apply to be a BC Culture Days ambassador. I am glad I said yes and my application was successful!
As the BC Day Culture Days Ambassador in Prince George, I wish to introduce a remarkable endeavor by a group of emerging and established Indigenous artists in northern British Columbia. I feel honoured to be included in the steering committee for the Northern Indigenous Artists’ Collective formed in the past year, which is based out of Studio 2880 in Prince George. The NIAC steering committee and the NIAC’s goal is to give inclusive, accessible, and equitable opportunities for the advancement of traditional and contemporary Indigenous arts, as well as professional development opportunities for Indigenous artists. The NIAC is accepting membership by Indigenous artists of all ages who reside in northern BC and has created a website for information on events, applications for becoming a member and scholarship opportunities.
The other seven members who currently sit on the steering committee include: Darin Corbiere, Carla Joseph, Dianne Levesque, Len Paquette, Jennifer Pighin and Mona Rock. Ivan Paquette acts as a liaison between the Community Arts Council (CAC) and the NIAC; Ivan currently serves as the Reconciliation Officer on the board of directors for the CAC.
Excitingly, the NIAC is currently planning an Indigenous arts symposium in Prince George in March 2019 for Indigenous artists across Northern BC - the first of its kind in our region!
I wish to share an important statement by Ivan Paquette: "The founding members of the Northern Indigenous Artists’ Collective feel strongly that the time is now for Indigenous artists in both the urban and rural areas of the northern region of BC. Individually and collectively we have all experienced challenges and vulnerabilities that exist in the marketplace and that tend to be unfavourable for many Indigenous artists. We look forward to finding ways of improving this situation, in the spirit of the calls-to-action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to create an Indigenous arts industry in northern BC, where all Indigenous artists feel welcomed, supported and valued.”
Lynette La Fontaine is an emerging Métis visual artist with roots in Northern Saskatchewan and the Red River Valley. She grew up on the traditional, unceded Dakelh territory of the Stella’ten, in British Columbia. Her work is inspired by connection to land, heart, spirit, ancestors and teachings from elders and knowledge holders. With the intent to honour these connections, she utilizes her preferred mediums of traditional and contemporary beadwork, mixed media, acrylic painting and fabrics. Lynette aspires to continue to gather the skills and knowledge of traditional Métis art forms - horse hair wrapping, quill work, fish scale art, moose hair embroidery, and caribou hair tufting and sculpting- through self-study and knowledge transfer by master knowledge holders. In turn, reciprocating the transfer of knowledge to others, informally and formally.
Flin Flon, Manitoba is once again aiming to take top spot on Culture Days' "Top Ten Cities and Towns" with the highest number of #CultureDays events and activities!
This year, you can expect over 130 hands-on activities, art exhibitions, #OnBeat performances and more! So how do you decide what to take part in? How do you make sure you don't miss a beat of the action?
It has been talked about from Vancouver to Toronto and we started it in the heart of Canada. Dancing Down Main Street is exactly what it sounds like. Absolutely no experience necessary and pet friendly (if your pets like to dance.) This year, we are dancing to on original song "SUMMERTIME " by Flin Flon's very own Evan Zach. Choreographer Casey Ranks will lead with a short 15 minute lesson, but we also encourage a little freestyle if your feet so desire.
The Wild Things Outdoor Village, SATURDAY 10:00AM - 4:00PM Wonder where the wild things are out in Flin Flon? Find them all in one place at the outdoor village in Creekside Park! This market is a one-stop wonder of art, hand-crafted demonstrations, local tastes and boogey-down beats.
A Flin Flon Culture Days favourite! Accomplished and acclaimed local artists, musician and improvisational expert, Mark Kolt, will musically interpret the visual art and current exhibition at the NorVA Centre. You've never heard art sound so sweet.
Superstar! School Programming FRIDAY - See individual classes for times Do your kids, nieces or nephews enjoy clowning around? Do they ever dream about being rock stars? Or better yet, learn from internationally known artists?Check out the huge selection of school programs for kids and teens of all ages!
Human Books at the Flin Flon Public Library FRIDAY 7:30PM - 9:30PM Now is your chance to "walk a mile in someone else's shoes" through one-on-one or stories. Human Books is where interesting people become the books and are "borrowed" for conversation. Come "check out" our interesting "books"!
P.S. Try out our new wines or sip on some apple cider, coffee and try a variety of cheese and crackers.
Kids Culture SATURDAY 10AM - 4PM Are your little ones interested in arts and crafts? Or maybe hoola-hooping and clowning around? Kids Culture has a ton of different activities for the kids (but who says adults can't create a craft or two?)
Local Roots FRIDAY 7:00PM - 10:00PM / SUNDAY 2:00PM - 5:00PM Want to discover new local talent? Or wanting to listen to your favourites?
Local Roots is an all local music and performance showcase! Inspired by Flin Flon's HOME ROUTES series, where local artists welcoming people into their home for House Concerts!
WILD RICE CABARET SATURDAY 7:00PM - 9:30PM The fifth instalment of the Wild Rice concert series is centred around the theme of Wild Rice Roots. Friends, families and neighbours will share the story of why they decided to put down roots in Flin Flon Manitoba. Throughout the evening, artists will collaborate on a work of art that the audience can watch come to life and bid at the end of the evening. The music will highlight and pay homage to musical groups rooted in our community and have helped nourish Flin Flon's flourishing arts community.
Culture's Cool for Kids (Pre-school activities) FRIDAY & SATURDAY 9:00AM - 12:00PM A few fun things catered to the smaller versions of us. However, we won't judge if you want to decorate cookies or watch the puppet show with your little ones.
Words by Mandy Rushton, BC Culture Days Ambassador (Vancouver, BC)
“Create the highest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.”- Oprah
You must invest in your art, your child within, for what moves you ultimately moves others.
This life is a “choose your own adventure,”so if you are not invested in your own journey, then you can become derailed rather quickly. Why not stay the course with what brings you delight and a healthy challenge? Finding your truth(s) as an artist, in whatever medium that may be, takes time or, for some, simply the acknowledgement that it exists within you to take up the reins and run with it. (Think back to the last time you saw a child or yourself as a child gleefully engulfed in an artistic, self-directed task for hours.) Check in with yourself and where you are at to see what honestly resonates with you today.
Find your strength in community. Taking great strides in any direction takes conviction, but also a heck of a lot of support from within and externally from your people. Not everyone needs be like-minded. Contrary to popular belief, sometimes people with varying life experiences or different age groups and opinions can be the grit to solidify your resolve and really get focused or more dedicated to an aspect of yourself, your art, or your business. Be gentle with yourself – reinvention of oneself when transitioning to school, out of school, the workforce, within contracts, and everything else your life may offer up takes a village. Be sure to choose wisely as to whom you opt into your circle. Ask for help! Learn the power of yes and no!
Share. This may sound downright simple, but I know full well that the perfectionist inside can thwart many possibilities of showcasing or sharing where you happen to be along in your process. Know that where you are at is simply that:s a mere snapshot in time. CONGRATS and way to go! This is your best for right now. Be confident in that. Take great pride. Try not to cut yourself off at the foot by holding yourself back from opportunities, grants, auditions, etc., for not being “ready yet.” The marvellous actor Hugh Laurie has been quoted saying:
“It's a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you're ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.” ― Hugh Laurie
Wouldn’t you agree?
This whole notion of scarcity of time can stem from a sense of not doing your soul's work, your truth, honouring and owning that, sharing what authentically moves you with those you love and with steadfast and new audiences that you have yet to engage with, whom you will empower and move with your work. That being said, time can quicken when in the zone of channelling your talents and time, but the rewards somehow blend together to hold you to your higher power and elevate your resolve to invest in yourself, to move your feet, inspiration and career forward, and apply for the next opportunity that you deem fit for your own very personal evolution.
I implore you to stick to your guns and get out there and take yourself on an artist date as often as you can! Try a new hobby, craft or art form, medium, class, or delve even deeper into your passion and madly pursue it. Why not? It’s far better than the alternative.
Hope to see you at the Pop-Up event lunchtime 12-2 p.m. at Robson Square Wednesday, September 26th or out at the Culture Days Hub where I’ll be your emcee Friday, September 28 from 2-7:30 p.m., then 7:30-8 p.m. I will perform “Mandy Rushton’s Pop-Culture Cabaret and Sing-a-Long. I also take the stage Saturday, September 29, at the same time, 7:30 p.m.-8 p.m.
Now get out there and do your thing, do it well, and don’t give up on yourself, nor the pursuit of showing up authentically in your life. Live it out well!
Mandy Rushton, a born performer, raised in BC and currently based in Vancouver, is a multi-talented, triple threat. She is a dynamic character actor, having graced a multitude of stages, performing vaudeville in Dawson City, Yukon, musical theatre across Canada and the States, including the PNE and Canada's Wonderland, animation in Cancun, and hundreds of venues in between. You can catch her voice next in the upcoming feature film: CARGO where she had a blast voicing characters, keeping the director and producers in stitches. Mandy has used her skills to transform into a VIP hospitality entertainer. In years past she’s served as an emcee/singer/host for corporate events, high profile charity galas/product launches and special event/fundraisers, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for worthy causes. A highlight of her career was the opportunity to perform for the consulate of the Netherlands and 800+ Holocaust survivors at the first ever WWll conference in North York, Toronto. Mandy spellbinds the young and young at heart, sharing the magic of intimate stories with her audience. A bonafide torch singer and lover of The Great American Songbook, this balladeer has found time to produce and star in her own one-woman cabaret acts. There’s no limit to what she can or will do next!
Humans are creatures of habit, and it can be easy to get stuck in a familiar routine. With so much to do in Ontario, it’s a shame to miss out on new and exciting experiences just because they fall outside the realm of your usual haunts. Enter Culture Trek, a new program of travel itineraries produced by the Culture Days team. Inspired by the diverse variety of activities available to Ontarians during the Culture Days weekend, Culture Trek simplifies the planning required to get you, your friends and family out the door and exploring your province.
Ontario is naturally diverse and multicultural, home to residents from over 200 ethnic backgrounds who speak more than 200 different languages. The province boasts both thriving cosmopolitan cities, and quaint villages laden with history. The roar of Niagara Falls echoes loudly, while further north the gateways to woodland country offers quieter beauty. Throughout, there are vibrant sites of arts and culture. There are urban tech hubs, lands of festivals and performance, rural communities steeped in tradition, and burgeoning places where art and agriculture meet.
As a celebration of arts and culture, Culture Days is a fantastic way to learn about these hidden (or not so hidden!) gems that are just a one-tank trip away. Tapping in to the recommended travel routes suggested by the Culture Trek itineraries provides road-trippers with suggested stops including Culture Days sites, tourist attractions and great places to eat, sleep and relax. The Treks have been thoughtfully selected with input from local partners to reflect the unique arts and culture character of each area. Travellers can expect to find mainstays like well-known theatres and museums, as well as the work of local artists, collectives and community groups.
Culture Trek responds to independent survey results that show the high interest of Culture Days participants in travelling longer distances to experience Culture Days programs. In fact, Ontario residents appreciate “staycations” and taking overnight trips within their home province. According to Statistics Canada, 76% of overnight stays in Canada are Ontario residents travelling within Ontario.
In its inaugural year, Culture Trek has launched three itineraries in three very different regions of Ontario: St. Catharines, Durham Region and Muskoka. Spread across a diverse canvas of natural beauty, distinct landmarks and local hidden gems, each location boasts unique sights and attractions. The overnight St. Catharines trek presents unexpected intersections of arts and culture: the picturesque harbourfront village of Port Dalhousie on Lake Ontario is juxtaposed with the vibrant contemporary murals found in downtown’s Graffiti Alley. Mixing quaint, heritage-laden rural towns and bustling, historical cities, the Durham Region trek highlights local art, music and food, enticing you to check out the Clarington Outdoor Art Festival and Manantler Craft Brewing Co., Bowmanville. Just two hours north of Toronto, Muskoka is widely famous for its beautiful cottage country. Many may not know, however, that the rugged Canadian Shield landscape and iconic wind swept pines provide a backdrop for an enviable arts and culture scene.
The 2018 Culture Days weekend is coming up, and we cannot wait to see which Trek you will choose! Click here to see complete itinerary details.
Photos courtesy of City of St. Catharines, Town of Huntsville, and Regional Municipality of Durham.