Saturday, April 18, 2009

In the Soil: Niagara's Homegrown Arts Festival is underway!

Earlier this week, I attended the launch of the In the Soil Arts Festival, an ambitious undertaking spearheaded by a small group of local Niagara arts lovers who felt it was high time we celebrated the great talent we literally grow right here in the fertile Niagara Region. The launch was held at Stella's Restaurant April 14th with what they called a "Soil Sampler", featuring performances by some of the artists you'll see during the week-long festival.

I unfortunately got there too late to hear some of the artists on the program for the festival, but we have ample opportunity now to hear many of them at several locations in downtown St. Catharines, as the festival kicked off Friday evening and continues through next Friday, April 24th, with a special "Jury's Pick" showcase at the Centre for the Arts at Brock University. In all, over 70 performing and visual artists will be performing during the one-week festival, with the finalists whittled down from a list almost twice that long when all the applications were sorted through.

For a full list of artists and performing times, go to their website at and click on The Artists link. The best part of all is the price: only $ 5 per event downtown, and only $ 20 for the Friday night showcase at Brock. You can't beat prices like that for such a wide array of talent, all of it local and much of it largely undiscovered.

So, will Niagarans embrace a spring arts festival? We'll have to see, but I have to think if all goes well, we have the makings here of a great new tradition in Niagara. As the earth reawakens for another season, we reawaken our senses with a wide array of artistic talent, all home-grown. The timing is perfect: we all want to get out after a long, hard winter - especially this year - and this is the perfect vehicle for it. After all, the Guelph Spring Festival, for example, started out in the late 60s due to the vision of one man, Nicholas Goldschmidt, and now it is established as one of the premiere regional arts festivals in Ontario. The In the Soil Arts Festival could become just as well established if we all decide to support it year after year.

So once you get the yardwork at least started for another season, why not celebrate the season with some of the talent from the In the Soil: Niagara's Homegrown Arts Festival? Enjoy!

April 18th, 2009.

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