Guelph is a city of festivals. The reputations of the Hillside Festival and the Guelph Jazz Festival have been built through strong community engagement for decades. Newer festivals such as Kazoo!Fest and the Festival of Moving Media have been ongoing for nearly 10 years. But Guelph’s latest addition to the series of festivals that bring the arts, community, and education together is the ArtsEverywhere Festival.
The ArtsEverywhere Festival, now entering its second year, was created out of 13 years of success with the Guelph Lecture—On Being Canadian, which continues to be the keystone event of the festival.
“The 2018 ArtsEverywhere Festival weaves together a series of events that offer us glimpses of ways forward through the current sociopolitical moment," explains Shawn Van Sluys, Executive Director of Guelph-based arts organization, Musagetes.
“With our partners at the University of Guelph and the Eramosa Institute, we put together a series of conversations, performances, and readings that explore all of the ways that our society and culture are shaped—from our politics and institutions to our families and creativity.”
The festival, which begins on Thursday, January 18 and concludes on Sunday, January 21, is also an extension of Musagetes’ online platform for the arts, www.ArtsEverywhere.ca.
Michael Roberson, in his opening lecture on Thursday, January 18, titled “The Trans Sounds of Black Freedom”, will share insights and stories from his community of House | Ball artists who are now establishing the Ballroom Freedom School in New York City—an educational, activist hub for Black and Latinx LGBTQ artists.
The Guelph Lecture—On Being Canadian, the keystone event of the festival, presents a lecture titled “The Rise of the Countercultural Right” by Joseph Heath, a philosopher and economist, who will discuss the unexpected appropriation by the Alt-Right of certain radical ideas that originated in the countercultural movements of the 1960s. The evening’s literary guest, Tanya Talaga, a journalist with the Toronto Star, will read from her latest book, “Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City.” Juno-award winning musicians, the Okavango African Orchestra, bring together the traditional music and instruments of several major African cultures that historically have had little or no interaction.
Three conversations will take place over the festival, with the topics from each one informing the next (visit festival.artseverywhere.ca) for more detail about each one:
- Friday morning: conversations about competing imaginaries and manifestations of art will consider the role of meaning versus movement, the creation of objects versus rhythms, the improvised versus the composed, and the embodied versus the status quo.
- Friday afternoon: A dynamic conversation between two artist-activist scholars on the challenges and possibilities of creating and curating for social change.
- Saturday morning: the community is invited to a midday feast and afternoon conversation titled "Braiding Infinity: Enacting Indigenous Futures" discussing hybrids of ancient and innovative practices around land-based learning, communal living and centring Indigenous thought, protocols and relationships to land.
The festival concludes with an event of gentle precision and thund'rous proportions: a complete Korean pansori concert by master vocalist Il-Dong Bae and percussionist Dong-Won Kim. Pansori is an ancient form of storytelling, performed by artists who train their vocal cords over decades to accomplish the full range of emotions and vibrations the human voice can possibly achieve. This performance will be a once-in- a-lifetime experience of artistic accomplishment few have ever attained.