ACWB Blog

Home » Community » ACWB BlogPage 4

March 2019’s Centre Stage with Jennifer Dahl

Written by Hanna Fridhed, Engagement Coordinator

 

Jennifer Dahl has played the piano since she was five years old. Having grown up in Fort
McMurray, she moved away for a few years for school and travel, but returned in 2004 with her
Grade 9 Piano Certificate from the Royal Conservatory of Music. The Royal Conservatory
Certificate Program provides a recognized national standard and sequenced program for people
studying music, as well as supports independent teachers with innovative, high-quality
resources. Jennifer has also been trained in Kindermusik, and is a Music For Young Children
(MYC) teacher. She now teaches piano in Fort McMurray through her program Music with
Jennifer.

 

“Babies sing, toddlers bounce along with the beat, preschoolers learn with action songs,
children memorize lyrics so quickly, and teenagers find meaning in the musicians of their
generation,” says Jennifer. “Music is integral to our daily life.”

 

An opportunity Jennifer offers her students is participation in the annual Oilsands Rotary Music
Festival. Entering into its 44 th year, this music festival aims to develop amateur musicians in
Wood Buffalo. It is a chance for musicians to hear each other play, to learn from experienced
professionals, and to learn the process of preparation, practice, and performance. “It brings
expert artists into the community,” explains Jennifer, “and it brings together music students from
across various disciplines (speech arts, band, etc.). The students get to meet others who share
the same interests. Art is a fun way to work on memory, logic, research, thinking in categories,
and fine and gross motor development.”

 

The Oilsands Rotary Music Festival, who works to develop and foster love and appreciation of
classical music and speech arts primarily, offers classes in guitar, piano, choral, speech, and
musical theatre. “It takes a lot of work, but I still involve my students because it offers
professional development for me as I hear the adjudicator’s comments, and see the other
wonderful selections performed by students who aren’t my own,” says Jennifer. “It takes many
hands to make the festival come together, but the volunteers and the board are very dedicated.
The awards are donated by local businesses and individuals who support the arts.”

 

As an arts educator, Jennifer has experienced the positive impact of music on children and
youth. She says “understanding music, and other arts, teaches us patterns, systems, how to set
goals and achieve them, continuous improvement, and ultimately how to connect with our
emotions. It connects us with each other. Art is expression of emotion. It connects us from
human to human. Children are naturally emotive and art is a creative outlet for emotional
release.”

 

If you want to get involved in the Oilsands Rotary Music Festival, or would like to make a
donation, visit www.oilsandsmusic.com.

March 2, 2019

February 2019’s Centre Stage with Andre Wilcox

Written by Hanna Fridhed, Engagement Coordinator

 

Many of us recognize his voice from the radio or have seen him at events around town as the energetic
emcee – Andrew Wilcox is the Program Director for Mix 103.7 and 100.5 Cruz FM. Originally from a farm
outside Camrose, Andrew moved to Fort McMurray five years ago. The things that made him fall in love
with the Wood Buffalo region are the strength and diversity, and the welcoming nature of the people
here. In 2018, Andrew launched his new podcast Wander w/ Andrew Wilcox, where he interviews
people who explore unique ways of looking at particular things.

 

“It's a podcast for minds that like to wander,” says Andrew. “The topic can be almost anything, but the
hope is that it creates new perspectives from meaningful conversations. One thing I have always loved
about radio is its ability to have fun, human conversations between the songs, to say things that make
you think and reflect. The podcast format seems like a natural progression of that aspect.”

 

Topics covered on Wandering w/ Andrew Wilcox so far are open-mindedness, self-control, and living
with wildlife. In “How to look back to help moving forward”, an episode about Greek history, philosophy
and democracy, Andrew and Matthew Sears of the University of New Brunswick talked about how
taking a deeper, more well-rounded look at the past can help us approach the future.

 

The podcast ties into his love for radio, both being great mediums for promoting other artists: “My
artistic background is a healthy mix of trying and failing. I’m a huge fan of music and film and I love to be
a part of it any way I can, but it took me a long time to find where I fit in,” he says. “I have attempted
everything from theatre to roadie to stand-up comedy and found the best place for me was professional
fan. I like giving a platform or voice to people more talented than myself.”

 

His love and support for the local music scene, and our community, is evident: “The YMM Music scene is
a close-knit group of incredibly talented musicians who are working very hard to keep live music going in
Fort McMurray. We have many local pubs that are very supportive of having live music in their venue,
which is great. I would love to see more artists come here and experience our great community,” says
Andrew. “I think that Fort McMurray has an incredible arts community that too many people are missing
out on.”

 

There are many ways to be an artist. Sometimes, by being an arts enthusiast, you become an artist
yourself. “What I love about Fort McMurray is that it attracts hard working people who want to create,”
says Andrew. “If you are one of those people, and I believe we all are in our own way, do your thing,
make your art, and get out there.”

 

The podcast Wander w/ Andrew Wilcox is available through iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify. Tune into
local radio to keep up with what’s going on in your community, for local information and support, and –
of course – music.

February 27, 2019

January 2019’s Centre Stage with ACWB

By Hanna Fridhed, Engagement Coordinator

Last year included major progression within both the arts community and Arts Council Wood Buffalo, and 2019 is
kicking off with a bang! The Government of Alberta named January the inaugural Month of the Artist, which
includes a province wide Artist in Residency program. We also see positive development of the arts within our
region: arts and culture is specifically named in the municipal strategic plan, and ACWB received Red Cross funding
to address the issues facing artists highlighted in our Post Fire Recovery in the Arts Strategic Plan. The most
prominent challenge presented in this plan is the lack of arts infrastructure – studios, makerspaces, exhibition
opportunities, materials and equipment. Another challenge is the lack of affordable commercial space. Artists are
entrepreneurs and small business owners who share concerns over empty space kept out of reach by exorbitant
rental rates. Municipal council has committed to addressing these issues in their strategic plan, as well as in
developing a Culture Master Plan and a Downtown Revitalization Plan. Major institutions in the community, such
as Keyano College, are looking at how to address these needs as well. The introduction of the Arts District as an
ACWB arts tour led to widespread enthusiasm for an artistic and cultural specific area downtown. With the
feedback received, we hope the momentum will continue leading to an established arts district in Fort McMurray!

There is a lot of exciting things happening within ACWB this year. For example, we are expanding our learning
series with the launch of a new program focused on the creative development of artists. The program's goals are
developing artistic practice and creative work, as well as networking and connecting artists with each other and
their peers in the wider Canadian artistic community. 2019 also marks the fourth annual Wood Buffalo Excellence
in Arts Awards, which celebrates the achievements and work of the region's artists, arts administrators, arts
educators, and arts champions. We are developing a new initiative in partnership with St. Aidan’s Society that will
bring art and seniors together, and we are reaching into the rural communities to identify and engage artists. This
year will see a revamp of our website and membership program to make it easier for artists, media,
key stakeholders and general community to know and understand who ACWB is and what we do. We are also
working on more online tools for artists and community groups to grow their capacity in the arts.

ACWB is proud to celebrate the Month of the Artist by highlighting our diverse arts community, featuring artists of
all experience levels and disciplines. “Artist” covers all artistic disciplines including visual arts, dance, music,
performing arts, fine craft, literary arts, performance, photography, and alternative or new forms including
multidisciplinary arts, multimedia and circus arts. An artist is a maker and a storyteller, a connector even at their
most introverted. Artists remind us to take a moment and see the beauty of our existence, even with all our flaws.
It’s about building future generations on a history of celebrating the arts and making it not just a luxury but a part
of everyday life.

Here’s to a brilliantly creative 2019!

January 2, 2019