Blair Douglas and Carly Woolner are hoping you’ll join them outside to
have some fun this weekend. They are organizing the second annual edition of The (s)hiver Winter Arts Festival, taking place in Dawson City on Jan. 30 and 31.
“We want to get people out to celebrate when everything is shut down and quiet,” says Douglas of their choice to hold the festival during one of the coldest months of the year.
The festival brings a celebration of arts to the streets of Dawson City.
“(S)hiver is all about giving people access to the art community and an opportunity for artists to showcase their work,” he says.
Douglas points out that the appeal of this type of event is the movement through town to different venues, as well as the multiple disciplines offered, such as performance art, aerial art, site specific installation art, and projection art.
Even though last year’s festival was a huge success, showcasing art from more than 30 participants, Woolner and Douglas have decided to make some changes this year.
“The festival will take place over two days rather than just one night,” he says.
“Artists like to leave stuff up longer than just a day. And it’s also so that those who missed it can still have a look.”
Other changes include more outdoor venues and stops, locating some of the installations in Parks Canada’s historic buildings, and a lantern making workshop that will result in an un-official parade, where participants can walk through the streets lighting the way with their creations.
Whether participants have solid art careers or have never even considered displaying any of their work, the focus of the festival it to encourage artists to create.
“The nature of the (S)hiver festival is that it’s inclusive,” he says. “We try to make it easy to get everyone on board – we haven’t turned anyone away.”
Along with organizing the festival, Douglas and Woolner have also written and choreographed a multi-media performance that will take place at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture.
“We’re telling a story with a live band, dancers, stop motion animation, automatic projection – it’s all included,” says Douglas.
He says they wrote it two years ago but had no venue, cast or resources at the time. This year, due to the success of last year’s festival, there are 15 people involved in everything from acting to set building.
As to the future, Douglas says they would like to see the festival expand. One of the goals is to obtain more funding in order to offer more workshops, and to bring in artists from outside the community.
“We want it to grow and get people outside exposed to what’s going on up here,” says Douglas.
He points out that outside artists provide the community and local artists with stimulus, as well as taking a little bit of Dawson away with them when they go home.
“As we get more exposure and figure out the funding, we’ll continue to grow,” sums up Douglas. “We’re learning as we go.”