Dreaming Up A New Kind of Festival: IF 2020

By Sam Boer

The suggestion was brought forth unassumingly enough. Dr. Ajay Heble—currently the director of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation out of the University of Guelph (IICSI), but also known for his award-winning teaching, research, and founding of the Guelph Jazz Festival—suggested that an online improvisational arts festival could be an exciting venture for IICSI. The Institute, which would usually be hosting its annual musical improvisation camp in Gaspé, Quebec and teaming up with KidsAbility Guelph to run Play Who You Are during the summer suddenly had an opportunity to try something new.

Still of Ajay Heble Video small
IF 2020 Video performance still by festival founder Dr. Ajay Heble 

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Guelph Arts Council - Statement on Systemic Racism

Dear members of Guelph Arts Council and the Guelph community,

The killing of George Floyd by a police officer has resulted in protests of systemic racism around the world. Guelph Arts Council (GAC) recognizes that systemic racism is not confined by geography. Canada is not an exception. Guelph is not an exception. Systemic racism is a global crisis and the current outcry is crucial to the development of a more inclusive and just world.

In this vital and long overdue spirit of self-improvement GAC has engaged in further discussions about anti-Black racism and the impacts it has on participation within the organization itself as well as representation in the arts.

GAC recognizes that we need to do more to actively cultivate the inclusion of Black People, Indigenous People, and People of Colour (BIPOC) on our Board of Directors, in other volunteer and staff roles, in our membership, programs, and communications in order to identify and remove barriers to participation that are unique to these groups. We understand that it is no longer enough to say inclusivity is an ideal we hold; we must act now to ensure we are inclusive in practice. Here are the steps we have planned at this early stage. 

  1. We are currently working on educating ourselves on matters of race, representation, diversity, and inclusion.
  2. We will identify gaps in representation within our organization and issues of systemic racism through community consultation and research. We commit to finding ways to amplify diverse voices in all aspects of our governance and operations.
  3. Within three months, we will create a committee of racially diverse individuals focused on Diversity & Inclusion within GAC. This committee will not be a place where BIPOC people carry the burden of education. To begin, this committee will focus on the following actions:
    1. Update our Code of Conduct and amend our Strategic Plan to identify inclusion/representation strategies specific to the BIPOC community while developing a separate policy that addresses Diversity, Racism, and Inclusion. 
    2. Implement effective ongoing leadership training for the Board volunteers, staff, and committee volunteers to promote anti-racism, anti-oppression, and inclusion at every level of GAC.
    3. Work to increase BIPOC participation and representation in our membership, Board, volunteers, and staff, in our programs and projects, and in the stories we tell about Guelph-Wellington's creative community.

GAC recognizes that this is only the beginning. Please email Patti Broughton at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any feedback or are interested in getting involved with GAC as a Board member, committee member, or volunteer. All feedback will be treated as anonymous by default. We especially welcome those who identify as BIPOC to be involved in our D&I Committee to ensure that we are accurately taking into account the lived experience and perspectives that are too often missing. 

Guelph Arts Council is a registered charity that has supported the arts in Guelph-Wellington since 1975. GAC is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, supported by volunteer Committees. Programs and services are delivered by the Executive Director and two part-time Co-Managers of Programs & Operations. GAC is grateful to its volunteers, community partners, members, donors, the City of Guelph, and the Ontario Arts Council for ongoing support.

Monthly Musical Member Video - Royal City Studios

Each month we’ll feature a video from one of GAC’s musical members. If you’re a musician and have a video you’d like us to feature, please send a YouTube link our way along with a short bio.

This month, we approach things from a bit of a different angle. In an article on June 23rd, GuelphToday announced that “Guelph’s first drive-in live music event” will take place on July 16th at Royal City Studios (in partnership with Music Lives), featuring local talent. That local talent comes in the form of two bands: The Cavan Brothers, and Frenemy.

Fans might know The Cavan Brothers from bands like The Long Dark Road, Got Social, U the Band, and Jerrycan, or as the proprietors of Cavan Coffee on Gordon St. (formerly Planet Bean). As its own entity, we didn’t have much online content from The Cavan Brothers, so today we’ll be sharing a video from Jerrycan – referred to in its description as “The one and only Jerrycan video” – for a song called “Uh Is Not An Answer”. It’s an incredibly catchy song, but viewers are warned at the beginning of the video that it contains violence towards inanimate objects, so please consider that before watching.

Royal City Studios
Royal City Studios was created to provide Guelph musicians and bands with quality music space to rehearse, record, and perform in. GAC members might remember an article we wrote about Royal City Studios back in 2019.

Music Lives
Our mission is to make Guelph the live music capital of Ontario. Part of building a great music city is ensuring that there is a comprehensive listing of all live performances, festivals, DJs and concerts on any given night. Music Lives is that source.

Many of The Cavan Brothers’ other projects have their music available on Bandcamp, so don’t forget to visit them (and your other favourite artists) there next Friday (July 3rd) to purchase music. As we’ve mentioned before, during the pandemic, Bandcamp has announced that they will be forgoing share of artist sales on the first Friday of May, June, and July, so you will be further supporting the artists with your purchases next Friday.

Viewer discretion advised warning having been given, here’s Jerrycan’s “Uh Is Not An Answer”

Art on the (Virtual) Street. Shop online until July 4!

Returning for its 18th year, Art on the Street, Guelph’s flagship art sale and exhibition, has gone online for 2020! A summer staple that showcases regional talent and the beauty of Downtown Guelph, Art on the (Virtual) Street allows art lovers to browse over 50 local artists and purchase their favourites online. The site is live  until Saturday July 4 allowing one more week to choose your favourite pieces of canvas, jewellery and pottery! Visitors will can also order food from Downtown Guelph eateries and listen to music from local musicians, just as they would if they were at the event in person. Visit Guelph Arts Council’s Instagram to meet some of the local artists virtually as they talk about their work and what inspires them.

Today we feature artists Susan Lapp and Jeremy Shute. You can purchase their art works and many others by visiting Art on the (Virtual) Street.


 Co-hosted by the Downtown Guelph Business Association (DGBA) and Guelph Arts Council (GAC), Art on the (Virtual) Street aims to support both established and emerging artists in the Guelph and Wellington County area.

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