Regina celebrates Culture Days
Article: Lauren Neuman – Contributor
Anyone who complains that Regina is boring probably a) has never ventured beyond the Dewdney bar strip or b) has spent too many hours playing the new Grand Theft Auto. Or, they probably didn’t check out the many events that have been going on all around the city this weekend.
Regina Culture Days fired up on Sep. 27 and provided the city with enriching, entertaining events that didn’t let up throughout the weekend. From buskers to poetry slams and wine tastings, Regina served a cultural platter filled with an array of different tastes.
The concept of Culture Days is an annual cross-Canada collective of citywide festivals that were founded back in 2009. The non-profit organization encourages people to participate, explore and appreciate the culture and talents that their city has to offer.
Through this event, local talents are able to come out and engage with other members of the community and have the opportunity to share their talents.
The organization believes that “as a leading national voice for the active and engaged cultural life of all Canadians, Culture Days provides support, tools and resources to a wide variety of artists and cultural organizations to help them unite the country through engagement in culture.”
The Regina Culture days kicked off Friday afternoon at the Victoria Square plaza. Everywhere you turned, there was something to see, from buskers dancing with hula hoops to barbershop quartets. Local artists lined Scarth St. and displayed live painting as well as a skillfully done real life enactment of a famous painting by Frida Kahlo. With a beginning to the weekend already so active and lively, it was certain that the rest the weekend had to offer would be something special.
Spoken word activities took the front seat on Friday night. The Creative City Centre collaboration brought performance artist and poet, C. R. Avery, to lead a writing and performance workshop at the Centre. After the workshop, everyone headed down to the Mercury, who was hosting a poetry-slam for those who were brave enough to perform a piece.
And if you wanted a drink, the place to go was the Harvest Wine Festival organized by the Volkslieder Harmonie Choir at the German Club. The festival offered many different German wines to taste and also continued with Friday’s spoken word theme by MCoS’ coming in and interviewing fest-goers about stories of integration and the contributions that the multicultural community has brought to Saskatchewan culture.
Continuing into Saturday, the events around town did not let up. The Globe Theatre opened their doors with a free performance of Shangri-La and an open house. Neutral Ground with New Dance Horizons performed their second of two performances of Les Fermières Obsédées at “House of Dance” and Victoria Park was lit up again for a downtown dance party that got everyone to get down under the stars.
The Sunday collective of activities featured an open house at the Mackenzie Art Gallery, where anyone who came down could see what goes on behind the scenes and opening the doors to the Vault which contains 4500 pieces from their permanent collection. To add to that, the gallery also celebrated their new exhibition “Drawing Our Communities Together,” which fit very nicely with the Culture Days concept. The exhibition is part of a “community bridging project” which celebrates students from different backgrounds who united in the name of art to create a body of work. Participants of the Urban Outreach Program were big players in the creation of the exhibit, stressing the idea of breaking down social walls and uniting.
Straying away from downtown, there was a new edition to the lineup of activities this year with the North Central Community Association organizing a street-festival. Michael Parker, the Special Projects Coordinator at the NCCA, was a key player to getting this festival in the neighborhood. The unity and engagement that Culture Days has demonstrated over the years in Regina was a perfect idea to collaborate with to start a festival.
“We need an annual event to draw the community together,” says Parker.
Inspired by the Fall Fest community event that used to run annually in the neighborhood, Parker pitched the idea of a festival to the board of all North Central residents, to bring an afternoon of entertainment to the area and the idea was very welcomed.
Everyone has their views and opinions on the North Central community, but not everyone has necessarily seen what it truly has to offer firsthand. The theme of “Perspectives” was one that Parker felt was very strong for the North Central event.
“There are lots of perspectives about arts and culture in the city,” said Parker, whose goal of the event was to “create a positive gathering point, a family friendly time and build community pride. Help challenge people’s perspectives of North Central.”
The festival was able to provide an opportunity for people to unite within the community and interact with one another, as well as those who don’t live in the neighborhood to be able to experience their community life. It brought creativity through arts, music, workshops, performance and more.
The festival was filled with booths and vendors selling anything from hot dogs and bannock burgers to crafts. The Albert Library organized a literacy corner while the Sunday Art Market set up their works and supplies for anyone that wanted to get creative. Students from Scott Collegiate also brought some of their artworks down to show.
On the music front, North Central was the place to be if you wanted a show. Regina’s own music dynamos, Rubiks Music, Pimpton, and Indigo Joseph all took the stage on Saturday amidst the festival and were extremely well-received by the audience and community. They performed at the event and helped promote the festival while raising awareness. Music, as it seems to always do, created a positive atmosphere and a uniting point for the community at the festival.
The overall theme of these Culture Days seemed to be “unite”. Everywhere around the city, people were able to connect with others in their neighborhood with talents to share and gain perspective of the endless creative possibilities in their backyard.