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Community Arts Celebration

March 15 – 16, 2008
Winspear Centre
Sir Winston Churchill Square, in the heart of Edmonton’s Arts District


The Community Arts Celebration is a two day event, March 15-16, 10am-5pm, that profiles and celebrates unique culture in a festival of art, exhibitions presentations and performances, with a concluding Celebration Showcase at 6pm on Sunday, March 16.  There will also be a Mini Symposium in the form of presentations and panel discussion on Saturday and Sunday morning, 10am – Noon.

The themes for the Mini Symposium are:

  1. Art for All: Creating Opportunities for Artmaking (Saturday, 10am-Noon)
  2. New Alliances: Perspectives on Community Art (Sunday, 10am-Noon)

(more details below)

Details of the Events


The Community Arts Celebration grew out of the projects funded through Edmonton Cultural Capital’s Community Arts grant program, Cultural Collaborations: Voices Less Heard.

Throughout the two days, 10am – 5pm, the work of artists from new communities will be profiled in various locations within the Winspear Centre.  This is a walk about event and has the feel of an indoor festival.  The artwork and installations, presentations, displays and performances reflect many cultures and the collaboration of many different community groups and artists.  Many of the artists, but not all, are immigrants.  Some are new to Edmonton while others have been here for some time.

Walk about Festival of Art, Exhibitions, Presentations and Performances: Some Highlights

Saturday, March 15

10am-noon, in the all ages events area
Nimama: AlterNatives present Aboriginal stories and crafts, followed by public participation in making a quilt.

11am-11:30am, in the screening area
Veiled Voices, screening of a film by Shabnam Sukhdev about the traditions of East Indian Women living in Edmonton.

11:30am-12:15pm, in the performance space (third floor)
Brown Bag Choir, present a selection of songs set to music by Diane Ellery from poems by Alyssa Hudson.  The words portray immigrant stories of courage, adventure, challenge and joy.

12:15pm-1:15pm in the screening area
Machos: Journey to Self Discovery with Immigrant Men, a
DVD screening and display.

1pm-2pm, in the Studio Theatre
Struggle to Survive, drumming and DVD screening of a story drama about immigrant refugee youth, conflict, cultural diversity, death and grief.

1:30pm-2:15pm, in the screening area
Celanese Workers Commemorative Project, presentation of a DVD that shows members of the Celanese workforce reflecting on the impact of their plant in East Edmonton. 

2pm-3pm, in the all ages events area
World of Story: The Stranger Who Snored, multilingual story and performance.

2:15pm-3:15pm, in the performance area (third floor)
GeriActors and Friends, an intergenerational theatre group perform original work.

3:30pm-4:30pm, in the Studio Theatre
Songs from the Avenue: A Musical Showcase
Paul Bellows, Barry Westerlund and Joe Bird play and sing original songs inspired by the history and happenings on Edmonton’s Alberta Avenue.

3:15pm-3:45pm, in the screening area
Tales from the Inside Out, Display of text and movement, inspired by people living with mental health.

3:30pm-4:15pm, in the performance area (third floor)
Shift in Progress, presentation and talkbackfrom The Not So Comic Book project─youth illustrators create a new comic book based on their experiences in the workplace.

4pm-4:45pm, in the screening area
Words of Exposure, a selection of readings and talkback from the artists of Exposure: Edmonton’s Queer Arts and Culture Festival.

Ongoing over Saturday and Sunday:

Exhibits and Visual Art Displays (self tour)

Struggle to Survive, display of materials illustrating the process of this movie project, a story drama about immigrant refugee youth.

Tales from the Inside Out, display oftext and movement project, inspired by people living with mental health.

Bissell Centre Mural Project,Family Mural” produced by Ian Mulder for the renovated Bissell Centre East, part of a larger cycle of murals involving the Bissell Centre Community.

Art for the Chinese Library, an installation of work from the Chinese Community.

SACRED:Voices from Darkness into Light, samples from a multimedia project in progress that brings awareness to eating disorders.

Celanese Workers Commemorative Project, a display illustrating the history of the communities built by the workers of the Celanese plant.

The Not So Comic Book, Youth illustrators create a new comic book based on their experiences in the workplace.

One Heart/One Voice, Immigrant artists in all media create works with support from the Nina Haggerty Centre and the Multicultural Health Brokers.

Sunday, March 16 (Highlights)

10am-noon, in the all ages events area
Nimama: AlterNatives present Aboriginal stories and crafts followed by public participation in making a quilt.

12noon-1pm, in the screening area
Veiled Voices, screening of a film by Shabnam Sukhdev about the traditions of East Indian Women living in Edmonton.

1pm-2pm, in the performance area (third floor)
The Story that Brought Me Here, readings by immigrant writers and poets. Alice Major will introduce this event with a few words from her new book The Office TowerTales.

1:15pm-2pm, in the screening area
One Heart/One Voice, a presentation by immigrant artists.

2pm-3pm, in the Studio Theatre
A Must-Be: Maskihkiy Maskwa Iskwew─“MASKWA (Medicine Bear Woman), emerging Edmonton-based Aboriginal theatre company, Old Earth Productions, perform from their play in progress and discuss process.  The play addresses issues about Aboriginal mothers and daughters affected by the penal system, institutionalism and intergenerational abuse. 

2pm-2:30pm, in the screening area
Making and Performing Our Stories: Rising Sun Theatre/SKILLS.
A video documentary about the making of a play created by people with developmental disabilities, facilitated by theatre professionals.

2pm-2:30pm, in the all ages events area
World of Story: The Stranger Who Snored, multilingual story and performance.

3pm-4pm, in the performance area
Songs and Stories of our Filipina Grandmothers: The Seamstress
A contemporary performance of short stories, told through song and music, in the Saruelle tradition.

3:30pm-4:30pm, in the Studio Theatre
The GWG Project: Piece by Piece, a presentation of a new work in progress with video and songs, depicting the experiences of workers at the once flourishing, now closed GWG plant in Edmonton.   Original composition by folk artist Maria Dunn with research by Catherine C. Cole.

Sunday: Main Lobby
The Workus Project, artist Memi Von Gaza and the Alberta Worker’s Health Centre are creating a ‘circus tent,’ shown in progress, that serves as a mobile visual and audio installation of workers’ experiences.  Activities at this site throughout Sunday.

Community Arts Mini Symposium

In addition to the walk around festival aspect there will be morning presentations and panel discussions led by special guests and experts in the field of community arts.

Community arts are not always easy to define and in many ways, perhaps, the strength of this fast growing area lies within the potential of the term.  Community art can, for example, encompass art activity emerging from particular cultures, locales or heritage groups, and can includes wide variety of genres in traditional, contemporary and public art─as well as social and community conventional professional arts practice.  Those agencies and professional artists working in this field are closely involved with the community members creating work, and with the ‘stories’ coming from a particular local group/culture.  This material is then represented through the arts.  Michael Etherton, a guest presenter from England, stresses that “there is a depth of analysis in the work, which brings out a recognizable quality in terms of content and immediacy of the issues.”

Saturday, March 15, 10am-noon

Theme: Art for All: Creating Opportunities for Artmaking.
Each presenter will speak for about 15 minutes on their topic, giving examples of their work and how they work.  This will be followed by panel discussion and questions.

Featured Speakers: Paula Jardine (British Columbia), Mervin Jarman (England/Jamaica) and Sophia Yaqub (Edmonton)

PaulaPaula Jardine will speak to the topic, The Persistent Invitation.
The focus of Paula Jardine’s work has been to revive and redefine community arts and the artist’s role in the community.  She is an innovator in public art development and her presentation is based on her extensive experience in creative leadership and community building.  Drawing on examples from very large scale participatory art spectacles and her involvement with the renowned Public Dreams Society, she will speak about the ways in which artists must connect with authentic, immediate impulses in the community, and thus stimulate genuine and real response.

As the founding artistic director of the Public Dreams Society, Ms. Jardine’s most visible achievement is the introduction of Lantern Processions as a community art form in Canada.  She is best known for her initiation of the Illuminares Evening Lantern Procession, and the Parade of the Lost Souls, both popular annual events held in East Vancouver, involving hundreds of volunteers and artists, and attended by thousands. 

Recently she was artistic director of Dance! Victoria’s Community Dance Project, which culminated in Dance Encounters on summer solstice on the cliffs and shoreline of Dallas Road, Victoria.  She is currently Artist in Residence at the Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver.  Paula Jardine was born in Edmonton, where she lived, studied and worked.  She is an experienced traveller and currently lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Deddeda Stemler

JarmanMervin Jarman will speak to the topic, Getting Real, Getting it Done
Marvin Jarman, currently working between Jamaica and England, is active with community groups worldwide.  He will explore how bold action is needed to create authentic art making opportunities for under-served communities. Using examples from his famous Container Project, he will talk about ways in which artists can stimulate community-owned projects that serve both material needs and creative impulses.  Mervin is a community arts activist, interactive multimedia designer, human computer interface expert and core member of the Mongrel Collective, based in England.  Mongrel is an internationally recognized artists group specializing in digital media.  “We are well known for our pioneering art projects including the first on-line commission from the Tate Gallery, London.  Combined with this we usually work with marginalized peoples who are on low incomes, socially excluded and cultural minorities.” 

Marvin Jarman describes himself as a particular kind of mongrel – a new breed of street art-hactivist emerging in new media and technology.  Mervin’s theory on art is that “art is life” hence his life is his only claim to being an artist, and his art is a total expression of his life.  His engagement with technology as a tool for empowerment and intervention stems from his experiences both in Jamaica and

MORE on Jarman

Sophia Yaqub will present: A Case Study of Women’s Creative Networks
Sophia Yaqub is a community leader in Edmonton and will speak about the process of helping to secure a place for women to create craft, explore language and culture, and build community.  She will illustrate her presentation using a brief case study of the Multicultural Handicrafts Training and Friendship Centre.

Sofia has a long history of community involvement in Alberta, and has served on many Boards, including the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, Pakistan Canada Association of Edmonton (where she served as president), Indo Canadian Women’s Association, and was a founding member of the Islamic Family and Social Services.  She is currently president of COIN, a non-profit charitable organization whose mandate is to undertake primary health and education projects in developing countries, focusing on women and children.
Sophia is a volunteer teacher with the Alberta Vocational School, an ESL instructor and a substitute teacher and is the chairperson of the Multicultural Handicrafts Training & Friendship Society where she is responsible for the operation of programs for women, seniors & youth.  Over many years Sophia has been involved with refugees and actively engaged in outreach work on their behalf.  She has been involved in federal politics and was campaign chair for former Member of Parliament, David Kilgour.  Sophia has received several awards of recognition including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and Centennial Award for community service.  She was Alberta’s Centennial Ambassador in 2005.  Sophia has resided in Alberta for over 33 years with her husband, 3 children and, more recently, her mother.

Panel Moderator: Devora Neumark is an interdisciplinary artist currently living and working in Montreal, who integrates societal concerns into her work.

Sunday, March 16, 10am – Noon

Theme: New Alliances: Perspectives on Community Arts
The presentations will show how outreach and art projects with non-mainstream members of a ‘cultural community’ can create profound change.

Featured speakers: Michael Etherton (England), Xstine Cook & Stephanie Hawking (Calgary), and Wallis Kendall (Edmonton)

michaelMichael Etherton will speak to the topic, Theatre Development and Child Rights
Drawing on extensive work and practice with youth around the world, Michael Etherton will show how theatre (incorporating video and art), can become a powerful tool for establishing children’s rights, and explores their role in creating positive change for their communities.

Michael Etherton has worked for international NGOs in both Asia and Africa in Development since 1988. Before that he worked in universities and colleges in Africa and the United Kingdom. He is the author of The Development of the African Drama, Hutchinson, 1982; Contemporary Irish Drama, Macmillan, 1988. He is now a trainer of child rights in development and drama; and lectures in universities on macro-economics, development and rights. His work on Child Rights Theatre for Development is written up in “South Asia’s Child Rights Theatre for Development”, in Theatre and Empowerment: Community Drama on the World Stage, [Boon & Plastow, editors] Cambridge University Press, 2004. Michael is the Guest Editor for African Theatre Number 6: Youth and Performance, James Currey, 2006. He is also the joint Guest Editor for Research in Drama Education Special Issue on Impact Assessment Volume 11 No.2 Carfax Publishing, June 2006.

In addition to his work in theatre, he is also a consultant for agencies working with children and the elderly in management of rights-base programs in development and emergencies, and has most recently been involved in tsunami relief and reconstruction among the destitute elderly in South India and Sri Lanka.

MORE or Michael

Xstine Cook and Stephanie Hawking will speak to the topic,
Developing Arts Projects and Creating Alliances in Marginalized Communities

Xstine Cook and Stephanie Hawking will talk about the remarkable journey of a large-scale public art project, Spirit of the White Buffalo that involved cross-cultural collaboration and active outreach, to an incarcerated population.

xstineXstine Cook is the Artistic Director of Calgary Animated Objects Society (CAOS), and Curator of the International Festival of Animated Objects, a biennial ten-day festival of mask and puppetry in Calgary.  A co-founder and former Co-Artistic director of Calgary’s Green Fools Theatre, Xstine was a major creator and performer in that troupe’s original mask, puppet, and stilt productions from 1991 to 2004. She managed the troupe for many years in tours around the province, country and globe, and many of Xstine’s large puppets and stilt figures still appear at provincial and national festivals.

A mask and puppet maker for over 20 years, Xstine studied mask and puppetry in Bali, Italy, France, California, and the West Coast of Canada.  She works with papier mache, fabric, and mixed media to create puppets from very small scale to giant figures.  Xstine trained at the Dell’Arte School of Physical Theatre in California, and worker as a performer and designer on several Dell’Arte International productions.  Xstine was Project Leader on Spirit of the White Buffalo, CAOS’s community kinetic sculpture created with artists, Aboriginal youth and people in jail.  Spirit of the White Buffalo won Best Western Theme at the Calgary Stampede Parade, Most Original Float at Peigan Indian Days, and was awarded for Innovative Business Practices by the Rozsa Foundation.

Photo credit: Sean Dennie

Stephanie Hawking’s passion is dance, a deep love of our people, and an appreciation for all Indigenous cultures.  With over 15 years of experience dancing women’s fancy, jingle, and traditional, she is also a noted clown dancer on the Powwow trail, and was an invited performer for the 2005 Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education in Hamilton, New Zealand.  Her formal education includes an Associates Degree in Native Studies and Policy from Langara College and University of Lethbridge, and RCMP training for victim-offender mediation.  Stephanie has worked on program development on and off First Nations in BC and Alberta, has spearheaded event planning and coordination, notably on the Ghost River Rediscovery 2005 Public Engagement Project.  Stephanie has worked as an Aboriginal Liaison Officer in the Drumheller Institution.  Stephanie is a Cree Metis from Drift Pile and Fort Chipewyan.

WallisWallis Kendal will speak to the topic, The Importance of Basic Access to the Arts
Wallis Kendal is the co-founder and guiding artist of ihuman, an innovative arts centre for street youth, in the downtown core of Edmonton. Edmonton. 

Wallis Kendal states that his life has been a creative odyssey.  He is a writer, artist, street worker, teacher, and traveler.  Armed with a 1969 BEd from the University of Alberta he embarked on a series of adventures that ranged from writing a children’s book published by Viking in New York, to creating the Gun Sculpture project with fellow artist Sandra Bromley.  In 1998 they founded the ihuman Youth Society─an innercity sanctuary where youth can tell their stories through their music, painting, breakdancing, fashion, and poetry.

Wallis Kendal has received numerous honours and awards including the City of Edmonton Salute to Excellence Arts Award(2000), Time Magazine - Canadian Edition (2005), Canada's Heroes Recognition, and the University of Alberta Alumni Honour Award (2006). He states: “Everyday brings new encounters, mystery and the unexpected. I embrace the philosophy of unconditional acceptance, and the idea that everyone is a unique individual and therefore must always be treated as an individual.  In this moment and time, I believe there is a creative renaissance about to explode. Driven by the atomic pace of the 21st generation, it will illuminate and interpret the changes that are redefining both nature and society.”

Moderator: Oliver Kamau, Youth Coordinator with the Northern Alberta Alliance on Race Relations (NAARR).

MORE --- for Mervin Jarman

In Jamaica he was frustrated by the lack of opportunities that existed for a young man in the street.  His struggles to broaden his experiential being prompted him to migrate to London, where he got his first taste of computers and new media. 

Mervin’s most recent project is The Container Project, a 40-foot shipping container that has been customized with donated and salvaged computers and converted into a mobile media arts lab.  The container is currently in the small rural village of Palmers Cross, Clarendon, Jamaica, and is scheduled to visit various communities throughout the island.  The Container Project is the first physical manifestation of the mongrelStreet – this is a representation of the idea of giving others the means to turn their situation around by working productively with media arts tools.  It’s about fostering the creative abilities and redistribution of values as it affects our situation.  The Container Project seeks to provide accessible spaces to new technologies for marginalized urban and rural communities linking them to their heritage and cultural backbone.  It has a simple basis: It’s an open access learning environment for new and old users of media arts technology.

MORE for Michael Etherton

Child Rights Theatre for Development in South Asia and Africa
The methodology and the approach of Theatre for Development with children and young people, which is sometimes referred to as Child Rights TfD, runs counter to much of the theatre work that development agencies sponsor which uses scripted theatre to give audiences messages that advocate changes in behaviour.  This kind of formal or street theatre for development projects has been shown to have little lasting impact on the target audiences, let alone on the wider community from which these audiences have been drawn.  Although well-scripted and well-acted plays can immediately affect the audiences watching them, changes in attitudes and behaviour do not follow.  Audiences sympathize with the victims; but social change is not the result of emotional response.  The social problems that the theatre is meant to resolve are complex and not susceptible to simple solutions that are usually advocated by message-driven plays.  Impoverished young people intuitively understand – better than we adults do.

Child Rights TfD tries to understand, alongside groups of young people, the complexity of their peers’ problems.  It does this by handing the creative process over to the young participants.  Examples from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal – in South Asia – and in Angola, Burkino Faso and Lesotho – in Africa – show how they are trained through improvisation and drama devising techniques to make their own very good dramas.  These dramas are always provisional, not complete, and constantly revised and extended through dialogue with the audience. 

Training in Child Rights TfD divides the time equally between learning new skills in making good dramas, and developing skills of analysis.  Examples from workshops describing how the participants determine, through the training process, what are the key issues for them that need to be analyzed and re-created in a performance.  The young participants also determine who their eventual target audience will be; and how they can use the impact of the performance and discussions with the audiences to negotiate with the key decision-makers in community, to plan strategies for change. 

It is important for the young people themselves to become key evaluators of the process and learn the appropriate skills in assessment.  What kind of impact are they trying to measure?  When can they expect to see social change?  Are they measuring their children’s and young people’s participation in the community decision making, as well as significant changes in the community?  When do they know they have made a change for the better?
MJE January 2008

Sunday, March 16 at 6pm
Celebration Showcase

The Celebration Showcase is just over an hour in length and consists of a variety of spotlight performances derived from larger works, and projects in progress.  All are supported through the Edmonton Cultural Capital Program’s Community Arts Grant Program: Cultural Collaborations – Voices Less Heard.

Doors open at 5.30pm, Enmax main performance hall, Winspear Centre, general seating, no ticket required.

The Celebration Showcase Program will include:

Songs From the Avenue
Terry Morrison, James Murdoch, Jason Kodie, Paul Bellows (set one), joined by Scott Peters and Chris Wynters (set two), present songs written by the performers that bring to life the history of Alberta Avenue (premier performance).

Song from the ave

White Cats
Bill Damur and friends perform music of a jazz style, inspired by stories from Alberta Avenue.

Struggle to Survive
Diversity of culture is represented in potent and dynamic images with
soundover and voice.  Extracted from a movie in progress about immigrant refugee youth, conflict, death and grief. The three minute vignette is prefaced by a short energetic movement piece with drumming and song.

Struggle to survive

Zephyr: World Beat/Heart Beat
French Canadian legend portrayed through dance, theatre and music.  Twelve dancers take to the stage under the direction of Isabelle Laurin.

Brown Bag Choir
Many corners of the globe, ages and cultures are represented in this community choir.  They will sing The Shape of Trees, set to music by the choir’s artistic director, Diane Ellery. The text is from a poem written by Alyssa Hudson, based on the experiences of male chorister, Toshiaki─from Japan, now working as an artist in Edmonton.

Veiled Voices
A brief excerpt from a film in progress by Shabnam Sukhdev that unveils the traditions of East Indian Women living in Edmonton.

World of Story: The Stranger who Snored
Twenty different languages are represented in the multilingual retelling of this famous folk tale. The dynamic and colourful choral chain recitation, brings alive many cultures and experiences.

Songs and Stories of our Filipina Grandmothers: The Seamstress
A contemporary performance of a short story, told through song and music, in the Saruelle tradition.

A Must-Be: Maskihkiy Maskwa Iskwew─“MASKWA” (Medicine Bear Woman).
Emerging Edmonton-based Aboriginal theatre company, Old Earth Productions, perform a five minute scene from their play in progress which addresses issues about Aboriginal mothers and daughters affected by the penal system, institutionalism and intergenerational abuse. 

GeriActors and Friends, an intergenerational theatre group present snapshots of their work together.

Kristy Harcourt will perform a short spoken word piece from 2007’s Loud and Queer, part of the inaugural Exposure Festival.   Kristy will share with the audience the often poignant and hilarious moments that make up life in the not for profit sector.

Piece by Piece: Maria Dunn
Edmonton folk artist Maria Dunn performs an original song portraying experiences of the workers at the GWG plant in Edmonton.

An invitation to all Edmontonians
The Celebration Showcase is a free event and takes place March 16 at 6pm at the Winspear Centre.  The performance is 75 minutes in length and is followed by a post show reception and ‘meet and mingle’ with the showcase artists.  This is the concluding main event of the Edmonton Cultural Capital Program. An invitation is extended to everyone to attend this free event, and be part of the Community Arts celebration March
15-16, 2008 at the Winspear Centre, in the heart of Edmonton’s Arts District.

If you require more information on events of the Community Arts Celebration, including the Celebration Showcase and the Mini Symposium, contact the Edmonton Cultural Capital Program office at 497-2336.  Please note that we request you pre register for the Mini Symposium.  Call Chrystal at 497-2336 or email:

Knowledge Circles for Community Arts Workers

There will be five opportunities for professional development and peer to peer learning over the weekend.  These sessions will be guided by a moderator.  If you are working in community arts or involved in this area and would like to attend one of the following sessions, please contact:
Pamela Anthony at 439-8624

Saturday, March15, in the Founders Room at Winspear Centre

1pm: Intergenerational Arts with moderator, Sharon Cherweniuk
3pm: New to Here: The Immigrant Artist with moderator, Jim Gurnett

Sunday, March 16

1pm: Building Connections: Community Arts Process with moderator, Jan Selman
3pm: Finding Common Ground: New Collaborations, moderator tbc
1pm-2pm: Labour Arts: Workin’ It.  This Knowledge Circle will be held in the All Ages Area (Area A).