“The St. Albert Amplify Festival is a collection of cool people who share passion for art,” explains Hayley Taylor, one of 18 members of Amplify’s 2018 Youth Advisory Committee and part of the original team of young residents who created the initial vision for the event in 2013.
It’s a succinct way of capturing the energy of Amplify’s two-days of music, poetry, dance, visual art and more—all curated by youth, created by youth and constructed for youth to enjoy. Hitting its first milestone, the festival enters its fifth-year this October 12th and 13th at the Kinsmen Banquet Centre as a youth-focused event that has few comparisons across the country. And this landmark moment is not lost on the Youth Advisory Committee members.
“It’s validation that this idea works,” says Stephen Badry, who has not only participated as a member of the Youth Advisory Committee for the last four years, but also performed at the inaugural event in 2014. “We’ve had increasing attendance every year, we’ve had more artists submitting their work, we’ve had a noticeable increase in the quality of the work and the effort people put in to their submissions. It’s something people are looking forward to. Finally, youth have a space to go and share their art.”
AmpliFIVE, as the organizers affectionately refer to it as, features one of the festival’s strongest line-ups of workshops, performances and free drop-in activities yet, all culminating in Saturday night’s wrap-up concert headlined by the infectious tunes of indie-rock darlings, Scenic Route to Alaska.
The slate of workshops is noticeably hands-on and au courant. Meant to encourage youth to try something new and, perhaps, discover a new favorite hobby, students from Grade seven to age 21 are invited to sign up for a diverse range of classes; including micro-gardening, henna art, soap making, calligraphy, improv, poetry, special f/x make-up and fabric collage.
But year after year, it’s the opportunity for young artists to share their work in a professional setting that makes the event a truly memorable experience. Events like The Show 5.0 presented by Servus Credit Union, a friendly battle of the bands where local musicians light up the Amplify stage and young dancers dazzle in between sets, or the collective art project, where art students from across the city come together to create a large-form temporary visual art piece, are the true heart of the festival.
“I think one of our strongest assets is our ability to validate people as artists and to portray their art as meaningful and purposeful within the community,” says Taylor. “The art that young people make is beautiful and wonderful and the sharing of that art grows and builds connections between different artists and different genres of art, so I really appreciate how the Amplify Festival gives young people space to say, ‘yes, I am an artist. Yes, my creations are interesting, people enjoy them and my art is worth something to my community.’”
However, the Committee quickly recognizes that there is a certain amount of apprehension that goes with creating, and consequently sharing, any form of art, and they acknowledge that trepidation, while encouraging youth to overcome it, with this year’s theme: “Redefine Perfection.”
“The whole idea around ‘Redefine Perfection’ was to convey this notion that art isn’t supposed to be perfect, but it’s supposed to be genuine,” says Badry. “So you don’t have to make something exactly perfect, or what people expect of you—eventually you’re going to have let go of it and release it into the world.”
Both Taylor and Badry want their peers to know they don’t have to worry about being perfect or being judged at Amplify.
“I want to say to young people, take a risk, try something new, try a new art form—it can’t hurt to step outside your comfort zone and try some new artistic outlet,” finishes Taylor. “It’s all just fun! And you never know who you’re going to meet and how they’ll impact you as an artist or you as a person.”