After a hiatus, Airdrie’s longstanding celebration of art and culture – ARTember – is set to return this September.
The 20-day festival will celebrate Airdrie’s artists and provide them with a platform to showcase their talents. ARTember will run from Sept. 11 to 30 and aligns with Alberta Culture Days.
“Personally, I really believe arts does a lot of good for communities, both in what it brings to the community as well as what it can spark in a community,” said Chair Alisa MacKinnon. “Maybe more so this year than ever, [we’ve seen] how important the arts have been to people’s lives, while we’ve been going through this global pandemic.”
This year’s event will boast a wide variety of virtual and in-person entertainment options around the city, including the Airdrie Film Society’s annual film festival at Bert Church LIVE Theatre, an art gallery featuring up to 30 local artists’ works at The Store Upstairs, musical concerts at parks, artistic demonstrations and more.
An event MacKinnon said she looks forward to is a songwriting contest, which will allow Airdrie's musicians to flex their creative muscles.
“We’re having musicians and songwriters write an original song in 72 hours, to be judged," she said. "The top five will get to perform their songs. The winner will be announced from those top five, after a mini-concert series.”
ARTember also has an educational component. According to MacKinnon, the festival will include visual art workshops and music tutorials for a variety of artistic disciplines, age groups and skill levels.
“We have a kid’s workshop planned, where kids can follow an artist to try and decorate a window, which follows in the trend of what was happening during COVID when everyone was decorating their windows,” she said.
Started in 2010, ARTember was previously managed by Creative Airdrie Society, which disbanded in May 2019 after struggling to fill key positions on its board of directors. The society’s shuttering meant ARTember did not take place last year.
With the pandemic top of mind, MacKinnon said the main difference in 2020 compared to previous iterations of ARTember will be the number of virtual and online events.
“We are looking at a lot of options for things that can be done both in-person and virtually, just because we’re obviously aware of the current situation but also [recognize that] people might not feel comfortable in groups,” she said.
According to MacKinnon, the pandemic has helped demonstrate the importance of art and culture to communities – which is why ARTember continues to be a valued event in the city.
“When the world kind of locked down and we had to be mindful of this big shift in our lives, or we were staying indoors more and not having that social contact, so many people turned to the arts in some form or another,” she said.
“That’s why I feel this festival is not only well-timed to bring a reinvigorated energy to everyone, but also an easy platform to get us to that reinvigorated sense of community.”
More information and a schedule of events can be found on the festival’s website is Artember.ca and questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
MacKinnon said ARTember is also active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, where more information will be posted in the days leading up to the event.