We live in an artist's paradise
Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014 06:00 am
We have a romantic notion that big metropolises are artistic hubs nurturing great geniuses. The truth is artistic genius takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to reach fruition, and they are few and far between.
But you donít have to go to Toronto or Montreal or Vancouver or New York to a see a significant proportion of really good artists producing stimulating, challenging and exhilarating works.
All you have to do is head down to the Edmonton International Fringe Festival, the largest independent, unjuried Fringe festival in North America.
Just watching the Fringe unfold gives you a sense of how the power of the arts unleashes a personís creativity and gives him/her a platform to channel their energies.
There are a number of artists with strong ties to small communities such as St. Albert, Morinville and Sturgeon County. Out of 210 shows, locally-tied artists are participating in 44.
That is a record for our community, not only in terms of numbers but also in terms of commitment and resources.
The figures suggest thereís a hotbed of talent north of Edmonton and itís helping to build the regionís identity.
St. Albert has long fostered and nurtured a huge artistic base. The very prominent St. Albert Childrenís Theatre is a flagship for giving youth a foothold in the highly competitive theatre and film industry.
Throughout its history it cultivated the talents of some of Canadaís best such as John Kirkpatrick now at Stratford, and Damien Atkins, the darling of the Toronto scene, and of course, a large segment performing at the Fringe.
Adding to our wide cultural base is the St. Albert Rotary Music Festival and St. Albert Chamber Music Recital Series, two prominent organizations developed and sustained through volunteer power.
And of course, St. Albert is incredibly proud of the Arden Theatre, an architectural gem that brings the world to our door with artists at the top of their game Ė voices such as Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara or Grammy Award winning Turtle Island Quartet. Did you know even Celine Dion sang at the Arden just before hitting it big?
When we examine the local culture, letís not forget the different local visual arts guilds Ė painters, potters, floral Ė that not only create positive social environment, but also bring great beauty into our lives.
When artists of different disciplines interact with each other, new ideas pop up. Thatís how The St. Albert Theatre Troupe was formed four years ago after like-minded artistic minds formed a network of talent.
And the International Childrenís Festival, an entity unto itself, attracts 50,000 visitors. This annual five-day event alone makes a solid case for contributing to the arts.
Supporting the arts is a plus for any community. Over the years, St. Albertís cultural scene has grown and along the way created a positive environment for residents.
But most importantly, cultural participation has helped to build bridges across neighbourhoods, races, religions and ages.
The arts, as we have seen in St. Albert, bring people together, foster rich cultural expressions and strengthen a variety of skills. They give a voice to the voiceless, and through this creative expression, we can emerge stronger.