Arts on the Fast Track in 2012

Entertainment of a homegrown nature attracted record crowds in 2012 at Fort St. John theatres, galleries, pubs and coffee houses. New creative opportunities are popping up everywhere. The Fort St. John Community Arts Council monitors the arts and cultural pulse of the city and reports that 2012 has been a banner year for new developments in the arts.

Music of all kinds appears to be flourishing throughout the community.  Rock, folk, country and classical music by local musicians have filled the seats at the North Peace Cultural Centre, Lido Theatre, pubs and coffee houses. Local stars such as Twin Peaks and Tom Cole have released new cd’s this year. Classical and instrumental artists are joining forces to form new groups.

A new community band called the Northern Winds started in September with 35-45 local volunteer players directed by Sabrina Bailey. They performed their first concert on Remembrance Day and again for the Christmas season to an appreciative crowds. The Northern Lights Youth Choir ramped up music education for a more intensive, developmental music program for children in Fort St. John when hometown Jen Giesbrecht returned to share her vocal and piano education and experience with Fort St. John children. And small orchestra ensembles are forming and making surprise appearances in the most unexpected places.

The Flying Colours painters forged a new direction with the purchase of printmaking equipment to teach local visual artists about this highly skilled art form. The new Fibre Art Academy now trains spinners and weavers in various fabric art skills. A new Arts Market Association offers the opportunities for local artists to sell their fine art creations. The Friendship Centre added more classes, exhibits, and sales of locally made Aboriginal Art which is in demand by visitors and residents alike.

Local fashion designs have been introduced in clothing, accessories and jewelry and one-of-a-kind fashion events. In February, Stage North celebrated fashion with recycled movie film in honour of the new digital format replacing the commercial celluloid. We can look forward to creative fashions made from recycled cd’s and dvd’s this coming February. New Aboriginal designs have surfaced and the very best opportunities to view First Nations traditional design is at the annual Pow-Wow in Taylor.

Art and Health is taking a front seat with the Community Arts Council in light of new findings that art therapy can be a healing technique as well as a prevention mechanism for mental health issues. The new regional hospital in Fort St. John has catalogued its art collection and, with the assistance of the Arts Council, is making policies concerning the displaying of art, receiving donations of art and keeping a permanent art collection for the hospital rooms and the extended care facilities.

The Arts Council’s first steps at forming a potential public art policy occurred this year when the Peace River Regional District requested help from the Fort St. John Arts Council to commission an art piece for the new hospital. On behalf of the PRRD, the Arts Council conducted the call for entry, adjudicated the 42 applications which came from throughout Western Canada, and recommended the winning artist. The selected work can be viewed at the top of the main staircase in the new hospital. The Arts Council will continue to work with partners who wish to see a Public Art process established in Fort St. John.

Theatre and comedy shows seem to be filling the calendars on the weekends. The Christmas classic, The Nutcracker, is appearing for the first time on the Fort St. John stage with 70 local dancers and actors. Studio2Stage hopes to make this show an annual event adding a new performance opportunity to the over 500 dance students in the community. Dance recitals already pack the crowds at NPCC and sell out 2 weeks in advance. Musical theatre has caught on in the city. Elementary, middle schools and high schools all do musical theatre each year. Legally Blonde by Stage North and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory by NPSS were two of the latest shows this year. We can look forward to Anne of Green Gables by Dr. Kearney School in the new year.

When Slainte Irish Dance closed its doors this year, the Watt School of Irish Dance stepped up to take in the extra dance students who would have been left without Irish dance lessons. Irish dancers continue to compete nationally and internationally bring home awards of the highest calibre. Other local ethnic dance is gaining popularity in the community, not only as a performance art, but as a fitness art as well.

The Arts Council introduced the first Sand Sculpting Competition this summer at Peace Island Park in Taylor.  Thousands of residents and travellers enjoyed the sculptures of SAND Sensations BC. In fact, the sculptures were still standing when the first snow fell in October. Plans for the SAND SENSATIONS 2013 are already underway.

The arts community was disappointed with the demise of the Northern Groove magazine. Since May 2009, this local, monthly magazine has been a welcome addition to the arts scene in Fort St. John. However, stay tuned to the Northern Groove website for continued arts news. Keep watching The Seen and Around the Peace on Shaw TV and CJCD TV and keep listening to SunFM and Moose FM for the latest arts events. For more information stop into the Artspost (10320 94 Ave), call 250-787-2781 or email Website: www