Friday, April 24, 2015

Need a dose of the Arts this weekend? Niagara has you covered!

This weekend is one of those weekends in Niagara you wish could be about 4 days long, as there is simply so much to see and do.  I've rounded up some of the best events on this weekend so you can perhaps best plan your time efficiently and accordingly.

First and foremost, Suitcase in Point presents the annual In the Soil Arts Festival in downtown St. Catharines right through the weekend.  In fact, James Street between King and St. Paul was closed to vehicular traffic this morning and the day was spent setting up for today's 5 pm opening of the Festival.

On Saturday there will be a full slate of events planned all day long, including a Poetry Slam showcase starting at 2 pm at Mahtay Cafe and Lounge on St. Paul Street, right across from the new First Ontario Performing Arts Centre.  Featured will be a number of talented local spoken word poets in an audience-interactive forum running through to the evening hours.

On James Street itself, Fixt Point, a performing arts organization focused primarily on the site specific promenade theatre performance concept, will have a trailer set up to gather stories for the re-mount of The Tale of the Town St. Catharines.  Headed up by Artistic Director Lisa Marie DiLiberto, the idea is to have people stop by the trailer and talk about their memories and experiences on our main downtown thoroughfare, St. Paul Street.

Once all the stories are collected for the site-specific theatre project that will incorporate live and recorded music, interview sound bytes and video footage, it will be presented as part of the opening ceremonies at the new First Ontario Performing Arts Centre in October.

I've been invited to stop by the trailer at 2 pm to offer my impressions of the street, and they will be on site through to the end of the Festival on Sunday to capture yours.

Along with all the on-street activities taking place on James Street, if you head upstairs at the Oddfellows Temple between 12 noon and 7 pm you'll be able to catch a free interactive workshop by photographer Erin Riley and my neighbour, artist and photographer Sandy Middleton.  Dubbed an Interactive Paint by Numbers Project, visitors will be able to participate themselves during the day-long event.

The collaboration between Toronto-based documentary photographer Erin Riley and Niagara-based artist/photographer grew out of their collaborative work in Toronto a little while ago, and this event just seemed to touch on so many of their shared inspirations.

It's impossible to list all of the more than 150 things to see and do during the three-day event, but you can access all the details and pick up your Festival passes at  You can also stop by the Hub on St. Paul Street to pick up a Festival pass on the spot.  Many of the events will be free, but others charge a small admission fee, so the Festival pass is by far your best value if you plan to spend a fair amount of time at the Festival.

In the Soil is a celebration of the arts in Niagara and beyond, with lots of interactive events and great music throughout the weekend right in the heart of downtown St. Catharines.  Why not come out and dig it for yourself?

Tied in with In the Soil is the Big Reveal Party being held at Gord's Place on James Street Sunday evening at 7, hosted by the Garden City Food Co-Op.  This is the event we co-op members have been waiting for - the announcement of where the innovative food co-operative project will take root downtown.

There has been lots of speculation on just where the location will be, but we'll have to wait until Sunday evening to get the final word at Gord's.  The event is free, with food available for purchase at Gord's Place during the event, with plenty of entertainment planned as well.

As founding members of the Garden City Food Co-Op, my far better half and I plan to be in attendance to get he good news first-hand, and you should be, too.  Want to find out more?  Stop by the St. Catharines Farmer's Market Saturday morning where the will have a display set up, and you can find out all about the project and even sign up if you have not already done so.  You can also check out their Facebook page or website at in order to RSVP for the event Sunday evening.

Community Care of St. Catharines & Thorold will have collection barrels set up at the event and you're asked to bring a non-perishable food item to contribute if you possibly can.

Elsewhere on the weekend the Marilyn I.Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts 5th festival of the arts known as Industrial Fabric continues with a performance by the Avanti Chamber Singers with conductor Harris Loewen at St. Barnabas Church on Queenston Street.  The concert, entitled Folk Song Sweets, will begin at 7:30 pm.

A lot of the music will have a Spring touch, to be sure, featuring traditional Canadian and International folk songs from all over the world, including new choral arrangements by local composer and Brock University Associate Professor Matthew Royal.

Tickets will be available at the door prior to the concert, or in advance by calling the Brock box office at 905-688-5550, ext. 3275.

And finally this weekend, the Niagara Symphony (NSO) will wrap up their Pops! series at the Sean O'Sullivan Theatre at the Centre for the Arts at Brock University.  The concert is dubbed "The Very Model"...of Gilbert & Sullivan and will feature a number of Niagara's municipal leaders joining the orchestra for a G&S extravaganza.

Performances are Saturday evening at 7:30 and Sunday afternoon at 2:30, and tickets should still be available at the door or in advance by calling the Brock box office at 905-688-5550, ext. 3275.

There you go...sunshine and lots of great ways to spend time in it and out of it all weekend long in Niagara.

Have a great weekend!

April 24th, 2015.

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