As mid-sized cities go, St. Albert is a very vibrant creative hub of the arts, and a new festival will pay tribute to that tradition.
The newly formed St. Albert Celebrates the Arts Festival takes place Sept. 18 and 19 at St. Albert Place in conjunction with the second last outdoor farmers’ market of the summer season.
“It’s a celebration of St. Albert’s artistic identity,” says Peter Moloney, chair of the festival committee.
Over the decades the arts have proven to be a solid cultural investment, and now there’s a cluster of local movers and shakers working on the fall festival to celebrate its many artistic disciplines.
In its attempt to nurture the community’s artistic growth, the festival has an ambitious two-day agenda. The festival launches with a ticketed Friday night gala centred on an awards ceremony. Citytv on-air personality Bridget Ryan hosts along with local performers Kamara Quartet, St. Albert Children’s Theatre, Back Porch Swing, The Tchir Brothers, Maureen Rooney and the Shumka dancers.
Saturday is packed, starting with a 75th anniversary National Film Board animation presentation, art studio demonstrations, play readings, an improv workshop, a writers’ workshop, author talks and an all-day Performing Arts Showcase.
“My favourite is at noon hour. On the second floor of the outside balcony (St. Albert Place), there will be choirs singing to the farmers’ market,” Moloney says.
The festival was spurred on last year after Alberta’s culture minister Lindsay Blackett designated the Sept.18-19 weekend as Alberta Arts Day, explains Moloney. “We saw it as an opportunity to revive Business Celebrates Culture, an awards gala that was held seven or eight years ago.”
At present the committee is operating on a shoestring budget with $10,000 donated from the city. Revenue from the ticketed awards gala and private sponsorship will supplement the budget. “There’s no formal dollars coming from the province at this stage.”
Although the festival is still more than two months away, organizers are looking for nominations of award recipients and artists wanting to strut their stuff at the Performing Arts Showcase. Nomination forms and performer submissions are available at www.celebratethearts.ca. The deadline for both is Aug. 7.
“The message I want people to take away is how rich of an arts community St. Albert has and how they can learn to use it, participate in it and get involved.”
Gala tickets are $40 and go on sale Monday, June 29 at 10 a.m. They are available through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.ca or at the Arden box office 780-459-1542.