This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

One of the things usually happening in September is Culture Days. It’s a province-wide event designed as a free sampling of what communities have to offer in arts and culture. We’ve been very good at creating a day long, once or twice a weekend-long event which attracts a lot of people.

It started with ODAC, then the City’s culture department got involved. In a way when Michael Martyn worked in the culture department the City was involved, but it seems to me it wasn’t official until the second or third year. Orillia was one of the first communities to sign on to the program and many times over the years has been rated in the top ten for participation.

Of course this year is going to be different, but it’s still happening.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said ODAC’s Christine Hager. “They’ve got a thing called Day In the Life series where they are going to be spotlighting, showcasing people from different areas of Ontario and we put in application and our application was accepted.”

Culture Days will happen from September 25 to October 25 and for the Day in the Life aspect, communities were picked to be featured on the website with all kinds of things including video updates on the day of, and features in the newsletter and on line beforehand. Our Culture Day will be Oct. 17.

“We have chosen October 17th because we are hoping most of our events will be at Creative Nomad and we wanted to give her (Anitta Hamming) a little bit of time to make sure the building was finished and she had her occupancy permit. So we’ve got our fingers crossed for that,” said Christine.

This looks like it can be a great affair. The Mariposa Exposed Volume 2 will be launched that day, there will be musicians on hand, art displays by the Orillia Fine Arts Association and the quilters, dancing, and workshops.

“Peter Stranks is going to do a workshop on how to photograph your art for exhibit submission (quality),” Christine said. Storytelling Orillia will have some people on hand to – if you guessed – tell stories. Makers Market will be have demos, there will be a demo of special effects makeup, and some improv comedy happening.

“The building should be in full use the entire day,” said Christine. She mentioned a lot of the shopping list is confirmed, some are planned but not finalized, and who knows what else will happen between now and then.

Because it’s 2020 and nothing is normal, it might be you’ll need to get a ticket, or reserve a spot for the stuff you want to see. There will be more details on that aspect later.

Buried in this bit of information is Creative Nomad Studios should be open by then. It’s been a long haul for Anitta Hamming, having the reno of the old Bi-way store shut down for a few months, then a bit of a trades shortage, but things are moving quickly now.  I can’t wait, I don’t think there are many in the arts community who can wait either.

Already Creative Nomad has been a game changer, not taking away from anything else, but adding to. The past few Friday nights there have been many art projects unfold on the street during the pedestrian mall and Anitta decided she at least had new windows she could use a temporary art display space.

More Culture

Somniatis, there’s an event name you should remember, maybe forgot. It isn’t dead, never was. This October was to be the next installment of the wearable art show which was extremely successful in its first three iterations. It’s been moved, surprise, to May 2021.

But, September 4, which is the last (but hopefully not last) Friday night pedestrian mall, the folks who have been working on the project will on the street in various places showing what they’ve been working on. They are calling it the Mad Hatter’s Ice Tea Party.

Tammy Dore is the main Somniatis stickhandler, which is good, because by day she wields scissors, and she, along with Xavier Fernandes will be using window display space at Fashion Therapy to show how they prepare models for the runway. It’s not just about throwing on a sack and waltzing out onto the stage to some funky music. Tammy is doing the makeup and Xavier bodypainting on a model to compliment a costume.

Cleverly Masked Somniatis Model

The same thing is going on with different teams at in the windows at Dapper Depot and Bellaza Day Spa & Salon(both on Mississaga Street). There will also be a tent with more models, and other models will be wandering about – they’ll have sheets to hand out listing all the stuff going on that evening (musicians, restaurants who are offering hard lemonade and an appetizer special, what’s going on in the galleries,, etc.).

Tammy told me there’s not an official theme for the May show, but it seems a Steampunk one is emerging and to that end she is encouraging people going downtown for the night to dress up.

So Much Culture

Most years we hardly know what to do with all the cultural stuff, even remembering what happened last week, or last month is a blur. Many years ago ODAC thought some of it and the people behind our events and organizations should be recognized. There is still going to be an Orillia Regional Arts & Heritage Awards this year. Last year was the first time under that name because Orillia Museum of Art and History rolled their awards into ODAC’s

The nominations are open and two things are at work here. A, there hasn’t been a crowded field in any genre or category, and B, you have lots of time to ponder what you liked and make a nomination. I even mentioned two groups just above who are worthy of a nomination. It’s kind of easy, just go back and read my columns since last November for a brain trigger. Nominations are to be done online. You can go here, to see the criteria and start assembling your nominating material. Nominations close October 2, which is closer in your rear view mirror than you think.

The categories are Education in Arts, Culture and Heritage; Emerging Artist; Heritage: Restoration, Renovation and Publication; Event in Arts, Culture and Heritage; and Qennefer Browne Achievement Award

The award ceremony is usually in late November, but I have a sneaking suspicion it’s not going to happen in the same manner, there were 180 people on hand for the last award show. Can you fit that many in a Zoom window? I’m sure somebody tried.

The End of Culture

Without a doubt the pedestrian mall has been the premiere culture event in the City for 2020. Labour Day Weekend is the last mall, scheduled. Does it have to be that way? I certainly don’t think so. The City has an online survey to measure the mood of those who did, and didn’t go. If you are business owner fill out this one, if you were a patron fill out this one by September 14.

Those are to determine if it’s worth doing next year. I looked at the calendar, and there’s going to be plenty of nice weekends yet and council should at its first meeting September 14, or even better, have a special meeting as they did to create the malls based on the emergency committee’s recommendation – and keep the Friday night/Saturday mall going until Thanksgiving. It’s clear to me people want it to continue for the balance of the good weather, and next year.

You find all the contact info you need for councillors here.

The Shorts

*  Terra Lightfoot has been added to the lineup and Hawksley Workman headlines the Orillia Youth Centre’s Roots North Music Festival Revisited concert happening September 26th at Sunset Barrie Drive-in (Oro-Medonte Line 4 at Highway 11). Get tickets now. They are $35 each, but if you have 3 friends, and you’re going to be in the same car, you can get 4 tickets for $125, which is a discount. The concert, as in past years, is sponsored, this time by Dapper Depot and Harveys, so all the proceeds will go to the youth center.

Elizabeth Schamehorn’s Human Signs is up at Lee Contemporary (check their Facebook page opening hours)

*  OMAH’s new version of QuarARTine, 6×6 pieces for auction, is up here. There are 20 new pieces in this 4th round and so far the museum has raised $2100 of which a portion will be donated to the arts community. OMAH also has a fascinating new article about Mazo de la Roche here, and has been posting videos on Youtube of the Speaker’s Night’s that would have been. The most recent is about Glenn Gould, and the one before is about a group of RCMP officers drowning on Lake Simcoe. See the whole bunch here. And the gallery is open by appointment, 705-326-2159.

*  There are still some copies of the  annual compilation album, music from the artists who would have performed at this year’s Mariposa Folk Festival, available. This time its music by Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, David Francey, Dala, Reuben and the Dark, OKAN, and others The vinyl is $40 and the CD $20. You can order them at 705-326-3655. Shipping and taxes are extra. You can save the shipping cost by arranging pick up. They also have some videos to enjoy on their Youtube page, or their website

*  The Leacock Museum is open again. Admission is limited to small groups, 5 people max,  and you have to call ahead 705-329-1908 to book a tour of Stevie’s old house. The  hours are noon to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday. The Bistro is still closed. Swanmore Hall is available for business meetings of no more than 10 people, but is otherwise closed. Check the website for updates and more details.

*  The Orillia branch of Dress For Success has a progressive, online, raffle called Toonie Tuesday. Tickets are $2 and you can buy as many as you like. Half of what you spend goes into the pot, the other half to Dress For Success. Jackpots have reached $1000. Check their Facebook page frequently for updates on the jackpot and weekly winners.  

*  The Orillia Public Library is open, find out more on their website.

(Images Supplied)

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