All across Alberta, from Sept. 30 - Oct. 2 were events marking Alberta Arts Days. Alberta Arts Days began in 2008 as a one-day event to recognize the value of Alberta’s arts and cultural communities. Since then, it has expanded into a vibrant, three day province-wide celebration that has helped inspire the creation of Culture Days, showcasing the province’s artists, arts organizations and cultural identities, while encouraging Albertans to discover the important role the arts plays in developing a prosperous, vibrant society. This year, a total of 64 host celebration sites were chosen by the Govt. of Alberta Culture and Community Spirit.
This is a brainchild of Minister of Culture and Community Spirit Lindsay Blackett, who says “We’ve got so many great artists of all different types and genres in all different places, we have to come together as a province to celebrate it.” He fondly refers this as the “Pied Piper” project, “We’re just going to keep adding people until every Albertan joins in, like the Pied Piper.”
In Edmonton, the three day event was marked in various ways: free admission to provincially owned historic sites, attractions and museums; Film & Writing workshops, and a Storytelling Festival at the Edmonton Public Library; tours of the Winspear and Citadel Theatres; Edmonton Symphony Orchestra open rehearsals and special performances; InFuse, by the National Black Coalition of Canada, Edmonton chapter; and workshops and exhibits from the artists at the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts. Two schools were also chosen to participate in this Alberta Arts Days Initiative: the Bishop Greschuk Elementary School and the A. Blair McPherson School.
Amongst the artists showcased at the A. Blair McPherson (ABM) School Alberta Arts Days Celebration is The Lucila Project. This is a dance company specializing in modern ballet pieces infused with Philippine traditional customs and images. Under the artistic direction of Jojo Lucila and Ida Beltran-Lucila, they held a dance photo exhibit, conducted a lecture-demonstration dance class and presented dances ranging from the contemporary, lyrical, athletic and tribal styles. Their participation introduced the community to Philippine ethnic dances and traditions, music and modern ballet technique.
Other performers/artists at the ABM were: West African Dance Troupe (interactive workshop); French, German and Italian opera; traditional Indian dance; Prince Charles School Fiddlers and Dancers; Rosslyn School Chinese and Lion Dancers; 3rd Street Beat; Beaumont Society School of Dance; Bobby Boogaloo; Cindy Clarke The Clay Teacher; City Arts Centre Director’s Cut Program; Gail de Vos (Storyteller); Gail Sobat (Author); Jeff Hendrick (Saxophonist, Soul-singer, Songwriter & Canadian Producer); Shelley’s Dance Company; and Les Bucheron French Canadian Display.
It was a great couple of days for participating in art, dance and improvisation workshops, viewing exhibits, watching performances and shopping in the International Market. The general feedback is enthusiasm for next year’s celebration, proving the concept of the Alberta Arts Days as a “Pied Piper” project.
* This article was written for and published in Pinoy Times, October 2011 issue.