Theatres galleries and stages were the first to close 22 months ago and are some of the last to open. Not many businesses can say they saw $0 in revenue – many arts organizations can. With so much uncertainty the Habitat for the Arts started looking for different ways to engage the community in art. From online workshops to hybrid art exhibitions to this newest project ‘Re-Animate the Arts for 2022’.
What is Habitat hoping to see ‘Re-Animated’?
Habitat is hoping to find artists in community to inspire people, either with hands on opportunities – like painting for the community mural or carving in clay for the community tile project – or by just writing about them each month in the paper.
We also want to give artists the opportunity to re-engage with their audiences. RE-Animate will showcase the visual arts, media arts, literary arts and the performing arts. The intent is not to simply show us what art has been created – but how art can inspire. We want those attending RE-Animate events to be captured by the artistic process.
And its really important to us to see youth engaged in this re-animation. The music, visual arts and theatre residencies planned for February and March include youth. It was serendipitous of the Fitzhugh writeup this week on Jasper’s young actor making it into the Hinton Break-A-Leg Theatre Company. The grant we received from Canadian Heritage and Arts Jasper has allowed us to bring Break-A-Leg to Jasper for Feb 26th for the first Jasper theatre show since January 2020 – the last Jasper production that Emerson was in!
With the uncertainty around crowds how will Habitat not see more ‘postponed’ events?
Re-Animate is not all about events. Its about giving artists some tools and time and funds to create and show community what is here. We have two residency programs running in February in music and visual arts. Both of these residencies involve simply giving artists the space to explore their art form…invite the community to come and see the process…and ultimately to build something for a Culture Days exhibit in September. The Culture Days Exhibit will be a final showcase for everything these artists create over the next 5 months.
A good example of Re-Animate that wont get postponed…last August we began a conversation around ‘animating’ the Town Trail. It is the perfect place to tell our stories and showcase our cultural community – distanced and outdoors – the trail is the perfect venue for word artists. When the Canadian Heritage funds came through we sought someone to take on finding the word artists in Jasper and were fortunate to have found Janeen Keelan. She even came back to us within a day with a well thought out plan and potential budget. Her plan also includes possible collaborations between genres, something else we are hoping will evolve.
How are you finding the artists to be part of Re-Animate?
Well, Habitat is now 12 years old and just upstairs from some amazing organizations like the Jasper Artists Gallery and the Francophone Society and the Library. The building is a cultural hub that does draw creatives. Today we had someone drop in looking for ways to get involved in the theatre community…we hope to see a theatre residency come from that. As we seek artists – we find more.
And we hope the ‘cache’ we are building this year allows for them to find each other. One of the visual artists doing a residency in February is looking forward to being inspired by the musicians in their residency.
Should an artist wish to be part of this re-animation they can email us firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have long dreamed of a sustainable community of artists…here is that dream of a directory where we can find them...perhaps this Canadian Heritage grant can work towards this as well.
Has Re-Animate got any events planned yet?
We have had the community create an 82 piece mural that will hang in the Library & Cultural Building.
During the school shutdown this month we sent home over 100 clay tiles for families to play together and when fired in the kiln they will get supplies to paint them together. I think anyone who took the opportunity to play with clay during that cold snap can relate to the afternoon well spent not wondering what to do!
January 29-February 19 Saturdays from noon to 3 the community is invited to stop by Habitat and see what Sophia & Tony Mastrianni are creating during their music residency.
January 30-February 27 Sundays from noon to 5pm the community is invited to stop by Habitat and see what Finn Andrews and Jennifer Ottaway are creating during their visual arts residency.
Janeen Keelan, a Jasper word artist, is working towards a Literary Art Walk that will include many of Jaspers writers and images by Jasper artists.
Alyssa Buzerus, an Alberta actor, is working towards the April One Act Festival with the Jasper Theatre Company and a local youth.
The Break-A-Leg Theatre Company from Hinton is presenting an evening of dinner theatre in Jasper on Feb 26.
Josephine Lier, of Early Music Alberta is hosting an educational afternoon with the Jasper High School in April.
The Arts Jasper annual Early Music Classical program returns in May.
Almost everyday something new evolves. More artists add to the program…
And all of this creating will be collected and presented in a final exhibition for Culture Days in September.
What do you see as a deciding factor – how will you know Jaspers arts community is Re-Animated?
We chose the word ‘animate’ over revive or reignite because we don’t believe the arts were ever dormant. People were engaged in their art…in fact there was a huge resurgence in painting, writing, dancing…just not together. So perhaps we will know Jaspers arts community is Re-Animated when we see a theatre troupe rehearsing again – or a young artist has created a portfolio of work they didn’t have the resources to create before – or our visitors see our stories and culture in ways not visible before.
We tell all of the creatives who come to Habitat – its all about the process… we hope this fund allows artists to do their own thing at distance from others or to explore with others…incorporate all ages and use that diversity…ultimately seek to inspire without fear of what they create.