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Walking Tours

After a month off, Guelph Arts Council’s Historical Walking Tours resume for the rest of the 2017 season. For over thirty years, Guelph Arts Council has promoted and celebrated the cultural heritage of Guelph by offering six different walking tours on selected Sundays from April to October (excluding July). Delivered by a dedicated group of volunteer heritage enthusiasts, the tours are an opportunity for tourists and locals to learn about Guelph’s history while taking in the beautiful architectural and natural features of the city.

Our volunteer Tour Guides are an integral part of our historic walking tour program, and we are grateful for their dedication and passion for Guelph’s heritage. Long-time volunteer Cathy Farr will be leading the first tour in August, Where Guelph Began. She says, “I enjoy leading the walking tours. I always learn something from those who participate”. Cathy’s tour is on August 6 at 2 pm. The tour leaves from Juice Inc., 25 Waterloo Ave., at the corner of Dublin Street. Cost is $5/person in cash to the guide, or online through the guelpharts.ca event calendar.

Available on each tour are keepsake booklets, which are also available at Guelph Arts Council (42 Carden St) and The Bookshelf (41 Quebec St, Guelph). They will also be available for purchase from the tour guide on the day of the tour. These booklets can also be purchased to use as a self-guided tour book if you are unable to join us for the tours on Sunday afternoons..

Each tour starts at 2 pm and runs approximately two hours. Tours run rain or shine, with cancellations only in extreme weather.

For tour dates, descriptions and departure locations: www.guelpharts.ca/gac-programming#walkingtours

Carolyn Meili: A Parade through Guelph's History

Carolyn Meili by Cami BrenchleyPhoto by Cami Brenchley

Carolyn Meili, a local artist, curator, and arts management professional, has recently been announced as the City of Guelph’s fourth Artist in Residence. Over the course of the residency, Carolyn will gather a visual language of symbols with the help of Guelph’s residents. The community will be invited to contribute ideas, drawings, stories and pictures through various activities, discussions, surveys and social media campaigns, which will inform the design and construction of Carolyn’s contemporary artwork, The Parade.

Carolyn is a multidisciplinary artist, her practice focuses primarily on, sculpture and site-specific installation. Her work uses familiar everyday materials and found objects to confront the boundary between daily life and art. On her practice, Carolyn explained, “I’m trained in a wide range of artistic disciplines, which gives me a sort of toolbox for different projects. My training was a combination of classical and conceptual, so the idea often leads and the materials follow. I used to do performance art, but I realized what I really wanted to do was make the costumes. So my sculpture work has become much more costume based. I often think of them as sculptures that you perform in your mind. You imagine what they are like to be worn or activated.”

The residency explores Canada’s 150th birthday and the City’s 190th anniversary while encouraging reflection of Guelph’s collective history in a unifying way. “My artistic practice has always been about place and identity. I’ve lived in Guelph for 14 years, which is the longest I’ve lived anywhere. So I really feel anchored here and very affectionate to this community. I’m a big walker. I’m always walking through town taking in details like architecture, people's behaviour, and everyday objects. So to work on a project that is so unique to the city is a great way for me to articulate all that gathering that’s been happening over the years.”

“I thought, what a great way to explore my interest in costume and symbols of place. I’m interested in how we form identity through symbols. The project I am doing for the city is a parade of wearable sculptures that all reflect some part of the Guelph experience. A mix of historical and contemporary experiences condensed down into very simple forms. These are then turned into costumes that can be worn or turned into small floats. Materially, they are very humble. There’s cardboard, duct tape, sewn fabric, lots of found bits.”

Carolyn has been working with our community to develop the ideas behind The Parade, she explained, “I’m doing a lot of outreach to the community during the project. I don’t want this vision of Guelph just to be my vision, but one of a collective. I know it can’t be comprehensive, that’s impossible. It’s a big thing to take on, in any way, to name an experience of the community. It's been great to have the community’s feedback and to take their ideas and transform them into my art pieces. I hope people will follow and contribute their ideas.”

“I feel a great responsibility to depict the city and its complex well. There are layers of history and politics, so there’s a lot of delicate things to balance. It also felt very important to have an indigenous voice in the project and recognize how fundamentally important that history is.”

Carolyn hopes that, “Through the experience of the work, people will have a broader sense of what art can be. And see that this community is complex and diverse, full of many different voices, and yet it comes together in this beautiful somewhat absurd cacophony of who we are. And that it's something to celebrate and be proud of.”

The wearable sculptures that will make up The Parade will be fashioned into an art exhibition, organized in a static, frozen-in-time parade, inside City Hall over Culture Days weekend, September 29 to October 1 with an artist talk with Carolyn Meili. You can also see The Parade in action at the Santa Clause Parade on November 19th.

For more information on The Parade and to contribute your ideas to the project visit, fb.me/TheParadeGuelph 

Hillside Festival 2017: Hillside is Truly for Everyone


Hillside’s 34th Festival was one to remember. As always, the Guelph Lake Island was transformed into a Guelphite’s paradise for the weekend, with amazing music, dancing, food, art, culture, and community.

However, this year marked particular success for the festival, which has been suffering in attendance for the past few years due to a surplus of festivals popping up in Ontario. Hillside took on this challenge with poise, staying true to their core values, and establishing a “resistance and protest” theme for this year’s programming. The lineup featured artists who address global issues in their music and practice, including Sarah Harmer, Leonard Sumner, Billy Bragg, Rae Spoon, NEFE, and many more. A number of collaborative workshops were also centred around this theme. Hillside ran a Protest Songwriting workshop this spring, and the students performed their songs on the Main Stage at the festival. A strong sense of solidarity was felt among the patrons, who embraced and appreciated the theme wholeheartedly.

Along with the Resistance and Protest theme, Hillside always stands out as a socially and environmentally conscious festival. They consistently represent female performers in their lineup; this year, female and LGBTQ+ performers were represented in over 55% of the performing acts. The festival provides a safe and supportive space for everyone, including people in LGBTQ+ and indigenous communities, as well as people with disabilities. Sustainability is also at the forefront of the festival, where they use reusable dishes, cups and cutlery, organize an efficient waste management system, provide bus transportation to and from the festival, encourage biking to the festival, power a stage using solar energy, and provide a large water truck where patrons can fill their reusable water bottles.

The strength of Guelph’s arts community shines bright at the festival every year:

As always, Hillside showcased a plethora of local talent in their festival lineup. This year’s local acts included HighparkWhoop-SzoThe Blurry Pickers (K-W), NEFE and Common Deer, along with Hillside’s Songwriting Student showcase (12 acts) and the Jam School showcase (7 youth acts). A real sense of Guelph pride was felt when local acts were introduced, yielding whoops and hollers from the audience. NEFE received thunderous cheers from the packed tent at the Sunday Morning Gospel Hour workshop. A dense crowd of fans stood at the front of the Island stage awaiting Highpark’s performance, and proudly sang along to their songs while sporting the band’s t-shirts.

Some artists from this year’s Art on the Street were spotted in Hillside’s Artisan Market, including Bella GreyNicole Gagnon Wooden Designs, and Stray Stones.

The Hillside volunteers are another example of Guelph’s supportive community. 1400 volunteers work before, during, and after the festival to make sure all the bases are covered, from setting up stages, lights, signs and decorations to washing dishes and sorting collecting garbage. Not only do the volunteers work hard, but they take pride in what they do and make Hillside volunteering an annual tradition. Some volunteers have been working with the festival since its first year, who now bringing their children (and some grandchildren) to the island to volunteer as well.

This weekend was truly a Happy Hillside for everyone. Mark your calendars for next year’s festival, July 13th-15th, 2018!

Guelph Arts Council Relocates to 10C Shared Space

On August 1, Guelph Arts Council launches a new chapter in its history by relocating to 10C Shared Space in the former Acker Building at 42 Carden Street.

Guelph Arts Council’s new home will be an accessible, street level, art-filled space that shines a spotlight on Guelph's creative community. For artists and arts workers looking for support, and residents and visitors looking for arts experiences, GAC’s new office and resource centre will be an easy-to-find one-stop shop. It will also be a space within the community of social changemakers co-working at 42 Carden, which will open up new opportunities for collaboration and inspiration.

GAC Executive Director Patti Broughton says of the move: “The people of Guelph have a well-deserved reputation for taking care of each other and innovating together. This is remarkably evident in the evolution of 10C Shared Space. While the plans have developed, Guelph Arts Council and 10 Carden have collaborated to ensure that the centre will be a place for the arts, with fully accessible exhibition, workshop, and event spaces.”

As of August 1, Guelph Arts Council’s address will be: Guelph Arts Council, @10C Shared Space, 42 Carden St., Guelph, ON N1H 3A2. Our online home remains guelpharts.ca, our general email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and our office hours Tuesday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm (or by appointment).

Find the original press release here

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