A brand new event will be taking place in Dawson City on Saturday, January 24. The (s)hiver festival promises a night of art, light, and creativity in response to the dark cold of a northern winter.
Originally from Vancouver, festival organizers Blair Douglas and Carly Woolner arrived in Dawson last summer. Both are artists; Douglas creates photo-based light projections, while Woolner is interested in installation art, and is enrolled at the Yukon School of Visual Arts (SOVA) in Dawson.
“ The festival is a way to get involved with the community and to give back,” says Douglas.
They came up with the idea one day while talking with friends about Nuit Blanche, an all-night arts festival held around the world. It also takes place in the dead of winter, and Douglas and Woolner decided they wanted to do a similar event in Dawson. They gathered some people together and started to plan.
The name, says Douglas, came up by playing with words.
“ Hiver” means winter in French, and of course, what do people do but shiver during the long, cold months?
They applied and received funding, then sought people interested in helping and participating.
Douglas is impressed with the level of support the festival has received.
“ It’s unique to Dawson to have an idea and receive the support and encouragement that we did,” he says.
“ Our wild idea has become a reality.”
Originally, they expected to be featuring mostly 2D art, but the festival has since evolved to include anything and everything.
“ We now have music, dance, painting, sculpture, circus acts and light Installations,” says Douglas.
In total, the festival involves approximately 20 artists. Locations range from outdoor areas to local institutions like SOVA, the Klondike Institute of Art & Culture (KIAC), the Alchemy Café, the Conservation Klondike Society (CKS), and the ODD gallery.
While the outdoor installations will be open for viewing at the public’s leisure, Douglas and Woolner decided to schedule the indoor performances.
“ Scheduling the performances promotes movement,” says Douglas.
“ We’ve managed to work out a cohesive flow, grouping like-things together. It’s part of the festival experience to have choices.”
Maps of the various outdoor and indoor installations, as well as performance locations for the one-day festival, are available at various businesses around Dawson as well as at KIAC.
The event will start at 4 p.m. on January 24, in order to encourage families to come, and will end later in the evening with a dance party at the Gazebo on the waterfront. A live band has also been scheduled to play at the Westminster to close up the festival.
Both Douglas and Woolner are excited, as well as nervous, as the festival date draws near. This is their first experience organizing such an event, and both feel that it has been a good learning experience and hope that the festival will become an annual event.
“ We’re really enjoying it,” says Douglas.
“ People have been very helpful, we cocouldn’tsk for anything more. This is really awesome.”
For more information on the (s)hiver festival, go to www.dawsonshiver.com.