Ask most people what they do during the cold month of January, and they would say, “Stay inside and keep warm.” The (s)hiver Arts Society, however, wants to change that. They are encouraging people to come out into the cold and attend the 4th annual (s)hiver Winter Arts Festival taking place in Dawson City from January 26 to 28. The three day festival features dance, art, workshops, artist talks and music in various locations around town, both inside and outside.
The arts society’s mission, through the festival and other projects, is to nurture creativity in the northern territories by offering platforms for presentation and opportunities for cultural exchange. Their aim is to encourage up-and-coming and amateur artists to work alongside professional artists, bring art into non-arts venues, offer workshops and to engage artists in the making of new works.
James Boddie and Erika Marzinotto are two of the five board members of the (s)hiver Arts Society. They have been volunteers since the first festival in 2015.
Just last year, Boddie spearheaded establishing non-profit status for the society.
“You can get into major funding streams better and for bigger projects,” he said.
“This year, we have twice the amount of funds due to grants and fundraising.”
“We also have lots more exhibitors than previous years,” Marzinotto said. This includes more youth from both the youth centre and the Robert Service School.
The Festival accepts and encourages any art that anyone wants to submit. There are no themes or limits, says Boddie. The only limit is environmental.
“It has to stand up to sub-zero temperatures,” he said, pointing out that some of the events take place outside.
The festival is longer this year and for the first time, has a home base. From Friday evening until Sunday afternoon, the arts society will take over the Dawson Visitor Information Centre, providing a venue for vendors to sell their art, artist’s talks and a place to pick up brochures of what’s happening around town and when.
“We decided on a central location this year because of feedback from people last year who wanted to come and get a program and find out what was going on, but didn’t know where to go,” Marzinotto said.
The festival itself is spread out all over town. The Westminster Hotel, the Yukon School of Visual Arts, and the exterior of various historic buildings will all be venues for such events as musical performances, workshops and art displays.
Marzinotto has two pieces she’s contributing this year, but Boddie is too busy organizing to have entered anything. Both classify themselves as “super dabbley” artists.
As for deciding to hold a festival during one of the coldest months of the year, Boddie pointed out that having a venue during the winter encourages people to create.
“People appreciate having something to work on,” during the lull of winter, he said.
“Most people who want to be creative in summer are too busy. Now, they have the time.”
Both Boddie and Marzinotto said the board is hoping to not only expand the scope of artists involved next year to include the Northwest Territories, but would also like to showcase projects throughout the year.
“We are open to ideas about anything,” Boddie said.
“We would love some input about fun things to do.”