By GAC Staff

The staff here at Guelph Arts Council are making a personal commitment to stand behind the arts and support the production of creativity, artistic activity, and the cultural sector here in Guelph. We’ve given each month in 2015 an artful theme to focus our efforts and provide inspiration, and we are very excited to present our first monthly update!

In case you missed the original article, you can read it here: Twelve Month Artful Pledge part 1 and be sure to read the newly released Part 2, covering the months of July through December.

Here’s what we did with the theme of Join…

Katie, Office Manager/ Membership Coordinator:

It’s been a seven year dry spell since I played flute and tenor sax with the high school and military (22 Wing) concert and jazz bands in my home town of North Bay, Ontario. When I went to university in Ottawa, I missed being a part of that big sound, but I didn’t believe I could fit it into my schedule. I was also a little shy about joining a new band.

When it came time to take the 12 Month Artful Pledge, I knew the time had come. No more excuses – dust off that flute and find a band to join! In my search for the right group, I came across Guelph Concert Band. Their website said all are welcome (though you must have your own instrument) and to let them know if you’d be joining for rehearsal. They didn’t require an audition, but rather, suggested I come try it out. If I liked it, I could pay a prorated membership fee for joining part-way through the season.  Could they really be so friendly?

The short answer is: yes. These are wonderful, welcoming people who come together to rehearse every Sunday evening, often heading to the Wooly afterwards, and perform concerts to audiences year-round. Conductor Chris Cigolea offers uniquely expressive visual cues and analogies to help each section express their part. This has been especially helpful to someone like me, who is getting back in the game of reading and performing this challenging – but not unattainable – music.

It seems I have joined at a particularly exciting time for the band! At our upcoming concert, From Havana to Guelph we will welcome two international guest stars to perform with us. Recently inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, Cuban trumpeter-singer Bobby Carcasses will perform on flugelhorn and vocals, and from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Moscow, Russian ballerina Ekaterina Tikanova joins us in solo dance. We’ll also be accompanied on select pieces by guest stars from closer to home: local songstress Mary DuQuesnay, and the award-winning St. John’s Kilmarock Jazz Band.

Our preparation for this concert is anything but dull, repetitive rehearsals. In fact, on February 14, we will be having a dress rehearsal with our guest performers, followed by a fun percussion workshop, and then a spectacular Valentine’s fundraiser, Latin Love. Latin Love features a performance by Toronto’s Cassava Latin Band, special guest Bobby Carcasses, DJ Gury Gury. There have even been whispers of Latin dance instruction that will also be offered that day. These two events are not to be missed and I hope you will join us for one or both evenings.

I couldn’t be happier with my decision to finally join what I’ve been putting off for so long. I encourage anyone who is curious about the arts or just wants to be part of that community support system to join a group or organization. It’s never too late! You don’t have to be an artist or performer yourself, but supporting local arts groups with membership and/or attendance goes a long way towards making our community a better place to live in the long term, while making your life more enjoyable in the short. Thanks for reading.

Melissa, Creative Spaces Coordinator:

This month the GAC staff took on our first monthly challenge to join something that would contribute to making our city more artful.

To meet this challenge, I decided go about it a bit differently and join something that would help me to align my creative intentions for a healthful and artful year ahead and to bring more strength into my practice.

Goldsmithing can be a challenge to the body and the mind – it’s physical and creative and requires a steady hand and a quiet mind. You need to be in good health to do this kind work and so to meet this January challenge, I chose to join a week-long early morning yoga intensive that would give me new strength and still my mind. I know that when I give myself the freedom to play “absentmindedly” in the studio that I am far more creative, and so it was no surprise when I learned that new science is discovering just that!

Brigid Schulte explains in her book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time that, “Neuroscience is finding that when we [allow our body and brains dedicated time to go quiet in idle leisure]… our brains are most active. The Default Mode Network lights up, which, like airport hubs, connects parts of our brain that don’t typically communicate. So a stray thought, a random memory, an image can combine in novel ways to produce novel ideas.”

When I joined this class, I had hoped to create the stillness in my mind to be able to step into a new year of creative pursuits. Now, I’m not a morning person, so willing myself to get up before 6:00 a.m. five days a week was a small miracle. But I did it, and I am happy to report that I had an amazingly inspired week. While I’m enjoying my cozy sleep-ins this week, I will continue making dedicated time to care for my body and my brain, and I look forward to reaping the benefits during next month’s Artful Pledge to go forth and CREATE!

May your year be full to the brim with good fun and good creative health.


Sonya, Executive Director:

I had my “Join” pledge all worked out when I had first written the article. After many years of admiration, I joined the amazing and wonderful Ed Video. For those of you who don’t know, my own artistic practice is in the media arts. Before coming to Guelph, I had long been aware of the amazing artists, exhibitions, and workshops featured by the widely renowned centre and I am now proud to report that I am a member of the one and only Ed Video!

For me, joining Ed Video is a reminder that I can take the time out of my day to create more art. It has been a very long time since I last created a film. I hope that this is the first step in me becoming more mindful of my own artistic practices and I look forward to sharing those adventures with you in the coming months.

Let us know what you’ve joined and we’ll share on Facebook and Twitter, and in our next update. Next month’s theme is Create. We can’t wait to see what you come up with, Guelph!

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