ACWB Blog

Home » Community » ACWB BlogPage 2

October 2020’s Centre Stage with Rob Hickey

The 2020 Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards are set to air on October 17, and the graphics for this year’s steampunk theme were created by local illustrator and comic artist, Rob Hickey.

“I was very excited to work on the Arts Awards, because steampunk is such a cool and challenging theme,” said Hickey, “but I knew I could nail it. I wanted to find a balance between honouring the chaos and detail demanded for a steampunk aesthetic, while creating graphics that were clear, readable and easy on the eyes.”

Rob Hickey was born and raised in Fort McMurray. “Other than some college courses in Toronto, I’ve lived and worked here my whole life.”  

As an artist, the medium that interests Hickey the most is storytelling and comics. “I am an illustrator and sequential artist with a specific focus on telling stories with LGBT characters.”

“I loved cartoons as a kid and I’ve been drawing as far back as I can remember. I was introduced to a large and diverse artist community online as a teen, and I’ve been involved with and inspired by it ever since.”

When Hickey isn’t doing freelance digital illustrations for productions such as the 2020 Buffy Awards, they are also the Art Director for Twisted Gears Studios, a local production company. 

“We have two ongoing projects that are returning from COVID-related hiatus. They’re great fun for me because they are ‘actual play’ podcasts, which means the work I create for them is decided by the players’ choices and rolls of the dice.”

“Additionally,” says Hickey, “we are planning to film a short, which I am co-writing and directing.”

Working in a smaller community has allowed Hickey to connect with and get to know folks more personally than they would elsewhere. Hickey is also getting more exposure to different kinds of art. 

“I know painters, crafters, musicians, and videographers here. I’ve had the opportunity to try out different things because of this, like the above mentioned short film. This small community has been a great help in regards to looking for work and projects as well. Word of mouth certainly goes far here.  That’s how I’ve gotten most of my work.”

“We are facing such tough times here,” says Hickey, “but there are many incredible people pushing for more engagement and connection between different groups of artists and with the city at large.”

See Hickey’s geared-up graphics and characters embedded throughout the 2020 Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards on October 17. You can also keep up to date with their projects and artistic endeavours at robhickeyart.com or twistedgearsstudios.com.

Visit artscouncilwb.ca/buffys for details on where to watch this year’s cinematic steampunk Buffy Awards experience via Facebook, YouTube, or Shaw Spotlight. Connect to the local arts community and follow Arts Council Wood Buffalo on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn (@artscouncilwb).

September 28, 2020

Month of the Artist

Did you know September is Month of the Artist in Alberta?

Did you also know that Alberta is the first and remains the only province in Canada to dedicate a month to artists?

Month of the Artist is an annual celebration of artists and the value they bring to the province, both socially and economically.

Now let’s take a few minutes to do what artists do best: use our imagination!

Can you imagine space in Wood Buffalo that is a dedicated centre for artists to gather and work on their craft? What if that same space was also a venue for performances of all disciplines? How about a workshop space for artistic and professional development, a place to showcase the creations made by local talent, and for the community to gather and celebrate creative energy?

Are you still with me? 

Now let’s imagine that same place could also be used to host events, festivals, markets, and offer opportunities for the community to engage in the arts together.

Can you envision that?

What we have just imagined is an arts incubator. Wouldn’t it be amazing if our community had an arts incubator that could support the arts in the ways we’ve just imagined?

Arts Council Wood Buffalo is currently working on realizing this for our region. We are in the early stages, and you can participate in this process and help shape this idea into a reality. 

You can help by exercising your imagination and sharing your thoughts in ACWB’s Arts Incubator survey.  Open until October 6th, 2020, you can take the Arts Incubator survey and share it with your friends, family, colleagues, and social media followers. Your feedback will help identify what is needed in this arts incubator and who will use it. This information can then be used as we study the former Landmark Cinemas theatre on Manning Avenue to see if that space could be re-purposed into an arts incubator for the community.

Your feedback will help show potential funders, community leaders and decision makers that we need an arts incubator in the community. Your feedback will help Arts Council Wood Buffalo when we apply for grants, funding opportunities, sponsorships and other support needed to realize this arts incubator we have just imagined.

Let’s celebrate Month of the Artist by showing Alberta and Canada that it’s a year-round event in Wood Buffalo.

Fill out the survey here by October 6.  Learn more about our plans for the arts incubator here

Arts Incubator Survey – Share Your Feedback on Proposed New Facility for Wood Buffalo

From Sept. 16 until Oct. 6, Arts Council is inviting artists, residents, businesses and industry to take a short survey and share feedback on an arts incubator facility proposed for the Landmark Cinema 6 building in downtown Fort McMurray.

The survey runs until Oct. 6, and feedback will help inform plans to remodel the old cinema into an arts incubator space that can support and nurture a diverse range of arts and culture.

“An arts incubator is a purpose-built space that can be used as a centre for artists to gather and work,” said Special Projects Manager, Sharon Heading, “but it’s much more than that. We envision it as a venue for performances, workshops and showcases, as a community gathering space, and as a place to host events and festivals that offer a broad opportunity for engagement with the arts.”

“Earlier this year we began working with Akron Engineering on a feasibility study,” said Executive Director, Liana Wheeldon. “Funding has been provided by Community Foundations of Canada via the Investment Readiness Program (IRP) to determine if and how the cinema building could be repurposed for an arts incubator. Now we’re ready to engage with the public to get feedback on the project and evaluate the benefits for everyone in our region.”

Feedback from the community will help identify ways to complement strategic goals and priorities for economic development and downtown revitalization, enhance artistic and cultural outlets, and provide more local options for education and entertainment.

The survey will also help Arts Council learn more about the demographics of the arts community, assess needs for programming and infrastructure, and share information about how arts incubators can benefit communities and local economies. Examples of arts incubators include cSPACE King Edward in Calgary, or Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design.

ACWB is not able to include feedback made on social media in the engagement results. Everyone is encouraged to provide feedback in the survey, so it can be included in engagement results and help inform decision making. 

Next steps for the proposed arts incubator include evaluating feedback from the community and the feasibility study provided by Akron Engineering due in fall 2020. Results will be shared when available.

Follow ACWB on social media (@artscouncilwb) or visit the Arts Council Wood Buffalo website regularly for ongoing updates and news about the proposed arts incubator.

FAQ’s

Q – What’s an arts incubator?

A – An arts incubator is a purpose-built space that can be used as a centre for artists to gather and work, a venue for performances, workshops and galleries, a community gathering space, and even host events and festivals. Examples include cSPACE King Edward in Calgary or Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design.

Q – Where will the arts incubator be located?

A – The feasibility study is based on the former Landmark Cinemas building in the heart of downtown on Manning Avenue.

Q – Why did you choose that location?

A – The former movie theatre building is no longer in use and up for sale. The property presents many options and opportunities that are closely linked to the arts incubator concept, including theatre, movie and rehearsal space, large rooms, and outdoor space for parking, markets and events.  

In addition, the building is located in the downtown area, which has been identified by local government as an area for redevelopment. Findings from the municipal government’s public engagement has shown that this area is ideal for arts and cultural space as well as economic development.

Q – What is a feasibility study?

A – A feasibility study will help determine if and how the cinema building could be repurposed for an arts incubator, identify opportunities and challenges, and begin the process of envisioning and designing the project.

Q – Where did you get funding for the feasibility study? 

A – Funding for the feasibility study has been provided by Community Foundations of Canada via the Investment Readiness Program (IRP).

Q – Where do you plan to get money to pay for the arts incubator?

A – Part of the feasibility study is determining the cost of this project. From there, Arts Council will create a Fund Development Plan and Capital Fundraising Campaign. 

Additionally, there are a number of grants available provincially, federally, and through private corporations that support the development of arts infrastructure.  Examples of potential funders could be Canadian Heritage and Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

Q – Will any you be using Municipal tax dollars or funding to pay for the arts incubator?

A – Arts Council has not requested or received municipal funding to pay for this project. However, Arts Council is always open to discuss opportunities, synergies and ways to complement strategic planning for the benefit of everyone in the region.

Q – I live in a rural Indigenous community. How will the arts incubator benefit me?

A – Arts Council has proposed an arts incubator to be located in Fort McMurray, but we welcome participation from all communities and groups from across the region. 

Once established, the arts incubator will use the “spoke and hub model” to provide services to rural and Indigenous communities.  The Artist in Residency program could be inclusive of the rural areas. For example, artists would spend time mentoring residents in rural communities, but the artists would create their work at the incubator facility in Fort McMurray.

Q – How can I help make this project a reality?

A – Anyone wishing to donate to this project or other ACWB initiatives may do so through our website – donations $50 and over are eligible for a Charitable Donation Receipt and donors can specify which program, project, or service they wish their donation dollars to support, including the Arts Incubator.

You can also help by participating in the Arts Incubator Survey (open until Oct. 6, 2020) or in any other potential public engagement opportunities. Follow Arts Council on social media (@artscouncilwb) or visit the ACWB website regularly for updates and information.

Q – How much will the arts incubator cost to build?

A – Part of the feasibility study is determining the cost of this project, including renovations, purchasing the property and operations.

Q – How much does the cinema property cost?

A – Fair market value will be assessed if the feasibility study indicates that this project is viable.

Q – How much will the arts incubator cost to operate?

A – It is difficult to know what the operation costs would be before a detailed design of the arts incubator has been finalized. We are working with funding professionals to better understand costs in greater detail.

Q – Will the arts incubator earn revenue? If so, how much?

A – Yes. One of Arts Council’s financial goals for this project is that this arts incubator be self-sustaining within 4-5 years of opening doors to the community. This means that the arts incubator would eventually operate based on revenues earned from serving the community, sponsorship and donors.

Q – What will happen with the profits/revenue earned by the arts incubator?

The arts incubator will be based on a business model known as a ‘social enterprise.’ Social enterprises are revenue-generating businesses with a twist. A social enterprise is a revenue-generating business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to deliver profit to shareholders and owners.  (Definition provided by BC Centre for Social Enterprise.)

September 16, 2020

Arts Council’s liaison program connects artists in rural, Indigenous communities

When Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) announced they were looking for a liaison to support the arts in Wood Buffalo’s Indigenous communities, Jules Nokohoo’s interest piqued.

He is now one of two rural arts support liaisons hired in the past two months. The positions are funded with a municipal grant aimed at strengthening the bonds between rural and urban artists.

“As support liaison, I look around and see what I can find,” said Nokohoo, who lives in Janvier and has done liaison work with the municipality. “I’ll showcase people’s art and possibly help them to promote it and to become self-sustaining.”

Liana Wheeldon, executive director for ACWB, said the organization’s small staff makes it difficult for them to give support to rural artists.

Even if they could get out to those communities, Wheeldon said staff lacked local cultural knowledge. Relating to a community that was not their home and finding barriers to practicing the arts would be difficult.

ACWB felt the best decision would be to hire people already living in those communities to act as their eyes and ears.

“We really want the person to co-design and co-envision what the arts programming will look like in their community with the community,” said Wheeldon. “They can leverage all the knowledge and workshops that we have built up in our toolkits if they want them.”

Nokohoo will focus on the Janvier and Conklin area. He hopes the ACWB will pursue a partnership with the Father R. Perin School, which is overseen by the Northland School Division.

Workshops held at the school could give young artists access to a pottery machine, a kiln and a welding machine for woodworking.

“In a small community like this, people can fall through the cracks. Kids have to be engaged,” he said. “We have to find creative ways to make this work.”

Jules Nokohoo, the rural art support liaison for the Janvier and Conklin area, in a supplied image from Arts Council Wood Buffalo. Supplied Image/Sharon Heading

Donna Aubichon, the rural art support liaison for Fort Chipewyan, hopes to bring that same creativity to her own community. She says the hamlet is packed with strong artists with a talent for sewing, beading and music.

“I had a stepping stone coming into my job. I knew who to go to for workshops,” she said. “It’s not like I have a hard time finding an artist to do a job in Fort Chipewyan.”

Activities organized by Aubichon have included a beading workshop that she instructed. Youth in Fort Chipewyan also had the opportunity to write and produce their own music video.

“I never thought picking up two needles and a thread would change my life but it has,” said Aubichon. “I love gathering and bringing people together to make something.”

As a result of Aubichon’s work, Wheeldon said a larger number of artists from Fort Chipewyan have been recognized for the first time in the Buffy’s, ACWB’s annual arts awards.

Aubichon says her position has provided an outlet for local artists to showcase skills in a new way.

“This is how they were raised, this is their culture and it’s their whole life,” she said.

Article published in Fort McMurray Today by Sarah Williscraft
Published on: September 10, 2020

September 14, 2020

2020 Arts Awards: Get your Gear Bag & collectible Buffy Stuffy

Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) is inviting artists, supporters and residents to order their Buffy Stuffy and Steampunk Gear Bag.  Visit Eventbrite to buy Steampunk Gear in preparation for the 2020 Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards on October 17. 

“This year, the Arts Awards are going to be a little different,” said Programs Manager, Luay Eljamal.  “Arts Council is hosting a cinematic Steampunk Buffys experience that will be broadcast online through Facebook, YouTube and Shaw Spotlight as a way of as respecting physical distancing while still celebrating and acknowledging all of the amazing talent in the Wood Buffalo region.”

Tickets for the event are free, but viewers are encouraged to visit Eventbrite to reserve their free ticket, buy a Steampunk Gear Bag and Buffy Stuffy (sold separately), or support the Arts Awards by making a donation. 

“We know how important the Awards Showcase event is to artists, sponsors and supporters,” said Executive Director, Liana Wheeldon. “We wanted to provide an opportunity for everyone to participate in the Buffys while they watch the event. This year, we are bringing the Buffys to our audience instead of asking them to come out to the event.”

Arts Council is also introducing the Buffy Stuffy, a brand new Arts Awards tradition. Buffy Stuffys are limited edition, collectible plush toys modelled off each year’s event theme. This year’s Buffy Stuffy is Wendell the Raven, who is modelled off one of the Midnight Steampunk characters designed by local artist Rob Hickey.

The Midnight-Steampunk-themed canvas gear bags are loaded with a candy sack (in the style of the annual candy bar), drink coaster, face mask, Buffys pin, event program and sticker. Buffy Stuffy sold separately.

Buy Steampunk Gear Bags through Eventbrite, and visit artscouncilwb.ca/buffys to learn more about this year’s 2020 Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards, check out the nominees, shortlisted artists, and event sponsors. 

As the October 17 event date approaches, Buffy followers are encouraged to participate by gearing up with steampunk-themed costumes, and sharing photos, congratulations and creations by using #buffys2020 and #ymmartstogether.

September 4, 2020

September 2020’s Centre Stage with Carla White

Spotlight on Carla White by Will Collins, ACWB Communications Coordinator

Local humourist and storyteller, Carla White, shares her philosophy with this quote from George Burns: “Someone who makes you laugh is a comedian. Someone who makes you think and then laugh is a humourist.”

White is a proud Alberta farm girl who moved to Edmonton for university, then lived and worked in London, England. She settled in Fort McMurray in 1991, where she has had a fruitful career, raised her family, and more recently discovered her artistic side.

As a storyteller, White published her first literary work in 2018, Reignite Your Spark: Simple Steps to Extinguish Stress and Go from Burned Out to Fired Up.

Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul® and The Success Principles™, wrote this about White’s book: “Reignite Your Spark is an insightful and relatable book, in which Carla recounts her journey from the darkness of depression to the light of love and laughter, in which she shares the powerful and meaningful lessons she learned on her search for happiness and fulfillment.”

“For a long time, I never considered myself creative, let alone an artist,” says White. “I did creative projects, but I continuously told myself I wasn’t creative. The idea of self-expression and artistry didn’t happen until I did a LOT of personal development and redefined my idea of both creativity and artist.”

“After writing and publishing my book,” says White, “I attended a writing workshop by Charmaine Hammond in partnership with ACWB. I started to broaden my perspective and realized I was a literary artist.”

Others may know Carla White as the Angry Housewife, her original comedic persona and also the name she gave to her inner critic. Her debut one-woman show called Shut the F❤k Up: Confessions of an Angry Housewife launched in 2018, and is a show of truth, vulnerability and outrageous stories to illustrate the realities and struggles of the modern-day working woman.

White is also the founder of Healing with Humour, a deeply transformational 90-day experience where participants unleash their personal power to heal inner doubts, fears and worries as a way to learn emotional mastery and experience more fun, ease, happiness, and effortless success.

Even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, she continues to find opportunity to grow as an artist. “Not being able to have live events has had me pivot to do more online work, which has a bit of a learning curve.”

From September to December, White is ACWB’s Artist in Residency and will be presenting two workshops: Finding the Funny Faster and Writing & Publishing. Plans are in the works for White’s residency to culminate in a staged reading, so stay tuned for more information. Learn more about White’s projects and performances at www.carla-white.ca, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Connect to the local arts community and follow Arts Council Wood Buffalo on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn (@artscouncilwb).

August 26, 2020

August 2020’s Centre Stage with Shantelle Davidson

Shantelle Davidson’s first memories of being an entertainer made her feel nervous and very excited all at the same time. Even from a young age she knew that music was her purpose, and she needed to pursue it.

“I started singing onstage with my Grandma and her band when I was 6,” said Davidson. “I enjoyed piano, voice and guitar lessons.” She hasn’t looked back in her musical rearview mirror ever since.

Hailing from Rainy River, a small town in Northern Ontario bordering on Minnesota, she grew up singing in church and at local talent shows. Davidson moved to Fort McMurray with her family in 2005. “I remember being so excited to live in a ‘big city.’ I became a part of the arts community, singing in choir, musical theatre, and Keyano Theatre. I’ve been here 15 years.”

Growing up so close to America, it was almost like it was her destiny to spend some time in the south. “One day at Westwood [Community High School], I saw a poster for auditions to The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in Los Angeles, California. I thought I would give it a shot. I couldn’t believe it when I got the acceptance call from AMDA offering me a scholarship.”

Davidson graduated from AMDA in 2008, and spent time in Vancouver working as an actress and recording original music. She later returned to Alberta to record her solo debut album in Calgary, which was released in 2015, earned impressive reviews, and was played on radio stations across Canada and the United States.

As part of her busy musical career, Davidson performed some of her original music at ‘Around the Campfire: Music, Stories & Songs’ in May 2020. Inspired by the traditional Nashville-style guitar pull, she took turns playing songs, and swapping stories and personal recollections with a number of local singer/songwriters, which was streamed live from the Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts.

The Guitar Pull “was so fantastic,” said Davidson. “I loved hearing the songs and stories from the other artists, as well as sharing my own. I was just over the moon to take part.”

“I feel so privileged to work and play here,” says Davidson. “Inspired by so many great people in our community, it makes it easy to create. There are so many opportunities. Most of all, I love the way our community supports the arts.”

Despite the uncertain times, Davidson had been recording new music with help from her friends at the District Recording Studio (before the flood), and continued recording new vocals for the project down in Edmonton with Dan Davidson, as well as Clayton Bellamy of The Road Hammers. “It’s a challenging time for everyone. As an artist, I feel called to inspire more than ever.”

Stay tuned for Davidson’s new single “Looking Up,” coming this summer on Canadian Country radio. Keep up to date and listen to her music by following @shantelledavidsonmusic on Instagram, Facebook
and YouTube.


Connect to the local arts community and follow Arts Council Wood Buffalo on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn (@artscouncilwb), or visit the brand new website at www.artscouncilwb.ca.

July 24, 2020

July 2020’s Centre Stage with Kritsana Naowakhun

Born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, Kritsana Naowakhun has been fascinated with art from a very young age. While his true passion is for painting and visual arts, he is a man of many talents, including cooking Thai and Asian cuisine. 

“To me, culinary arts and visual art can draw many parallels.”

Naowakhun’s first exposure to art was through his grandfather, who had an artistic background as a temple painter in China. “My grandfather would take me to Chinese opera, create beautiful ink drawings of magical creatures, and tell fascinating stories of faraway lands.”

“My mother saw that art gave me joy and purpose.” 

Naowakhun’s family supported him as he studied art through elementary and high school, and he eventually studied sculpture at Silpakorn University, the most prestigious art university in Thailand. “Only 55 people are selected out of thousands who apply, and luckily for me, I was one of those students who was accepted on my first try.”

Kritsana Naowakhun in the studio (Photo supplied by Kritsana Naowakhun)

He came to Fort McMurray in 2012 to start a new life with his Canadian wife, supporting her dream of teaching and creating dance while providing a good life for their children.

“In my artistic journey here in Canada, my first impressions were about the amazing new landscapes and animals I would encounter. After moving to Fort McMurray, I saw the beauty in how so many cultures can coexist while keeping their heritage and connection to the land. I want to express my impressions of the world around me through my Buddhist outlook on life and human nature.”

For the past seven years, Naowakhun has been teaching painting classes at Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts (SECPA) and has developed programming for artists of all ability levels and ages ranging from six to adult. 

Under normal circumstances, he teaches eight classes a week at SECPA. However, he has adapted to the physical distancing practices and teaches virtual painting and drawing classes from home.

Naowakhun has been busy in the local arts community. He has been part of two art shows with local artist, Shauna Kelly, three solo shows at The Kirschner Family Community Art Gallery, two art installations for the igNIGHT public art exhibition, he has painted a fox sculpture along the TOTAL Aboriginal Interpretive Trail at MacDonald Island Park, and he has participated in the local Artist in Residency program.

He has also been active on a provincial scale, participating in the Best of Northern Alberta by Alberta Society of Artists, Beyond the Patch by the Art Gallery of Alberta travelling show, and the New Wave by CARFAC. You can see his show online, or purchase his art at the Bugera Matheson Gallery in Edmonton.

To see or purchase his work, visit Kritsana Naowakhun’s website at www.kritsana2005.wixsite.com/kritsana-art, or follow him on Instagram: @artbykritsana. Find his art or classes on Facebook at Art by Kritsana Naowakhun, or Art Class with Kritsana Naowakhun at Suncor Energy for Performing Arts. 

If you’re interested in connecting to the local arts community, follow Arts Council Wood Buffalo on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn (@artscouncilwb), or visit the website at www.artscouncilwb.ca.

July 2, 2020

Statement of Solidarity

Arts Council Wood Buffalo has spent time listening, learning, and reflecting on the events in the United States, in Canada, and in our own community, with respect to equality and diversity. As an organization, we continuously strive to better our systems to be inclusive, equitable, and support diversity.  We have made some progress, but we are complicit in the systemic racism that exists when we do not speak out against it.

We support and will show our solidarity for Black and Indigenous artists and acknowledge the trauma that has and is experienced by all BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+, and persons with disabilities. We recognize that intergenerational trauma is real and commit to being part of the change needed to achieve justice and equality.

Our organization has taken time to reflect and identify the most meaningful way to inform and equip our team to recognize the struggles that are very real for so many members of our community, and to respond in a way that demonstrates our commitment to inclusion, diversity, and equity.  

The Board of Directors and Staff of Arts Council Wood Buffalo commit to the following:

  • Staff and Board will participate in Indigenous Awareness Training, led by an Indigenous educator and an Elder in July 2020.
  • Staff and Board will participate in Cultural Awareness Training, led by the Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo in October 2020.
  • Staff and Board will continue our reconciliation journey as led by the recommendations of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the teachings of Elders and Indigenous artists who have generously provided counsel.
  • Staff and Board will continue developing policies and practices that allow no room for racism, misogyny, or any other form of discrimination in the execution of our work. ACWB will apply the learnings from the Indigenous and Cultural Awareness Trainings, and from reviewing the Alberta Human Rights Act, into these policies.
  • Staff and Board will actively listen, learn, and continue the conversation.

The arts are a powerful tool to educate us and give a voice to those affected by the struggles of institutionalized discrimination. The arts empower, activate, heal, inspire, and enrich us. The arts connect us and are an integral part of healthy communities. Arts Council Wood Buffalo will continue to work with all artists and community members to support the growth and success of a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive arts community.

Please also see ‘Acknowledgements’ from our website.

June 18, 2020

June 2020’s Centre Stage with Tiffany Antinozzi

Considering all that has been happening in the world, artists like Tiffany Antinozzi are essential to the community. “I believe we can heal through creativity, and that’s what I want to share.”

This local visual and healing artist uses her talents to connect with the community and support others. “If I can inspire one person to follow their dream, to try something they always wanted, or to heal a wound, then I am on the right track. I want to inspire people to believe in themselves!”

Antinozzi was born in Montreal and travelled across Canada many times as a youngster. It was through these experiences that she first got into the arts: “When I was younger, we travelled quite a bit, and one of the easiest things I could do anywhere was drawing.”

She spent hours and hours of her youth drawing while on the road. When she was 18 and living in Montreal, her aunt encouraged her to get into painting, gifting Antinozzi with oil paints and canvas. “I have been madly in love with painting ever since.”

She has also been using art to explore and open her mind. “I use essential oils and sacred geometry along with sacred teachings,” says Antinozzi. “My goal is to inspire people to ask the tough questions and to seek out wisdom and authenticity.”

Her family has been coming to Fort McMurray since the 70’s, and in 2007, she moved to the region with her “new little family.” “Since being in Fort McMurray, I have received so much love and support through different projects I have done.”

One such project was a large mural at the Bill Woodward School in Anzac. She painted another project for Pata’s Playhouse, a loving learning space for children on the Fort McMurray No. 468 First Nation Gregoire Lake Reserve. She also completed window paintings for the Salvation Army to honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

“This project gave me an opportunity to connect with many people I might not have. The gratitude and love I felt from these souls was so special.”

Through her art, she was able to connect to people, to a cause, to her community, and more. “Doing large projects really fuels my fire. I help others by making someone’s vision come to life, but also being part of the community working on important causes.”

Keep an eye out for Antinozzi’s upcoming shows. She’ll be taking part in Alberta Cultures Days in September and has an upcoming show in The Kirschner Family Community Art Gallery at MacDonald Island Park. Follow Tiffany Antinozzi on Facebook to see her art and healing activities: @the-artsy-oiler. If you’re interested in connecting to the local arts community, follow Arts Council Wood Buffalo on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn or visit the website at www.artscouncilwb.ca.

June 8, 2020

ACWB Annual General Meeting: June 25, 2020

Please join ACWB Board of Directors and Staff at our 2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday, June 25, 2020. This year, we’ll be hosting our AGM via Zoom webinar from 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Link to the AGM Zoom Meeting

Save the date and bring some snacks as we highlight the successes of 2019 and look forward to what’s in store for 2020. There will be a special presentation revealing the theme of our 5th Annual Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards (a.k.a. Buffys), as well as a Member Q&A session at the close of the event.

All members in good standing (i.e., membership must be active and up to date) will receive a link to the AGM Zoom webinar via a reminder email sent out June 18, 2020, and again on the day of the AGM.

Click the following links to find the 2019 AGM Agenda Package and 2019 Approved Financial Statements. View the 2019 Annual Report and previous reports on the About Us page and scroll to the bottom under Publications & Reports.

Thank you to those who completed a Proxy Voting Form and returned it by June 24 via email to [email protected].

Any questions? Contact [email protected]

Please be sure your membership is up to date and active. If you’re not sure, please contact Hanna Fridhed at [email protected].

We look forward to seeing you there.

Link to the AGM Zoom Meeting

June 5, 2020

COVID-19 restrictions have Fort McMurray artists concerned about long-term support

Original post from Fort McMurray Today on June 3, 2020 and written by Laura Beamish. View original article HERE.

Local arts organizations are concerned about their long-term survival as public health restrictions meant to fight COVID-19 remain. It is not known when those restrictions will lift.

“A lot of theatre artists rely on the theatre arts for their mental health and general well-being. It’s a crucial component in many people’s lives. When we don’t know what the future holds… it can be really difficult,” said Hanna Fridhed, artistic director of the local theatre company Theatre; Just Because.

At the same time, the quarantines have stressed how important the arts are, she argues, as people consume more music, movies and TV shows during the pandemic.

Others have embraced new hobbies, such as photography, painting or playing an instrument. People have posted messages and drawings in the windows of homes or on sidewalks with chalk.

Locally, many artists play live shows or showcase their artwork online.

“That’s where we’ve looked now during this pandemic and isolation and quarantine,” she said. “We look to the arts for an outlet for a means to escape, for a means to connect, to keep us all on the healthier side of the mental health spectrum.”

Financially, Fridhed says the arts scene is going to be facing a tough battle. Support for theatre programs has slowly declined during the past few years, she said, affecting their budgets. At Keyano College, for instance, the theatre cannot afford its $2-million annual operating costs.

“I don’t think it’s because the support isn’t there,” she said. “I think a lot of people don’t know how desperately the support is needed right now and we’re trying to support so many.”

Liana Wheeldon, Executive Director of the Arts Council Wood Buffalo, also hopes the pandemic rouses the community to support local arts.

Wheeldon said competing for grant funding funding in 2021 will be difficult. Fort McMurray will have to compete with the arts scenes in larger cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary for dwindling federal and provincial grants.

The shutdown has also impacted people who make a full-time living off the arts.

When the pandemic shut down Kim Hurley’s Generation Dance Studio she was worried she would be unable to pay more than $10,000 a month for rent.

Some government resources have helped, but she’s had to look at alternative ways to keep her programming going.

Hurley started hosting four daily zoom classes for students. She’s also working with students one-on-one.

However, the studio is located in the basement of the River City Centre, which flooded in April. Hurley says rebuild costs are estimated to be roughly $400,000. Insurance will only cover approximately $60,000.

Some online fundraisers have started, but Hurley is concerned about where she will have classes if the studio has not been repaired when it becomes safe to reopen. For now, Hurley expects the studio to be ready in September.

“It scares me because I think, well I’ll need the clients to have seasonal monthly income in order to afford any place,” she said.

Hurley is looking at other options, including spaces at Keyano Theatre or MacDonald Island Park.

Despite some worries, parents still want to register their children. She is confident the studio will survive, even if the near future is going to be a struggle.

“I need space, I need human interaction. We’re artists, this is what we crave for and you’re not getting fulfilled right now,” she said.

For now, organizations such as Theatre; Just Because and Arts Council Wood Buffalo continue moving programs online.

Along with online courses, the Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts is looking at having small, in-person groups as measures get lifted. They’ve also hosted live performances and discussions with musicians.

“If the arts can’t be creative and problem solve, we’re really in trouble, so we’ve been able to rise to that,” said Wheeldon.

June 4, 2020