Songs Of Comfort And Joy

by SPARC Youth Blogger Dallis Campbell

Maintaining opportunities in the arts in rural communities is a growing challenge. In the last few years it has become important to me to do what I can to create those opportunities, with help from others in my community. And Covid-19 presents so many more hurdles in creating those opportunities.

It became a reality as Christmas 2020 was approaching that all the Christmas concerts, plays, caroling, and everything else that goes with the season, would no longer be occurring that year. This for myself, and others around me, became a problem as it seemed to drain the Christmas spirit out of so many people. 

I was sitting having a conversation with my faith leader about the season when I came up with an idea for a Christmas concert done virtually. All the videos would be pre-recorded and compiled into a sort of movie. I started reaching out to fellow vocalists and dancers to see if anyone would be interested in performing. Their response was overwhelming. Nearly everyone wanted to participate.  

 

A photo of a computer screen - zoom style meeting. People are pictured singing

Image Description: A photo of a computer screen – zoom style meeting. There are three rows of photos. People are pictured singing

 

I put together a list of the interested performers. I then discussed with everyone what songs they would be interested in performing. Working with them to find pieces that worked well for their abilities and making sure that no one would be performing the same piece.  

While getting the performers together some local businesses showed interest in participating – in any way they could. I decided to reach out to local businesses and organizations to do short videos wishing everyone a happy holiday, allowing them to be a part of the project. The fire department, the local food bank, different faith leaders, small businesses, political leaders, Santa, and more were all included. These short videos were almost like commercials to help ease transitions between songs; giving a brief pause from the performances. 

Some of the performers had me meet them and record for them, using COVID-19 precautions of course. While others were able to send me their videos themselves. I found myself filming the videos, staging the backgrounds to look their best, being a choir director for one of the small groups, and overall being super flexible and just having a blast. 

A friend of mine agreed to help me out by doing the editing once all the videos were in. I was lucky to have him helping me. It was nice to have the stress of the intricate editing process off my chest. He would put things together and try different transitions, and I would suggest edits. I oversaw checking the spelling of all the names of songs, performers, and businesses. We worked easily together as a team. It was important to have people helping. It took some of the work load off when it became too much. My Dad was helpful in reaching out to local businesses and sending out emails for me. As well as being a person I could just talk to about the process because sometimes you just need to vent.  

 

Two men stand in front of a stained glass window. They hold open folders and are singing.

Image Description: Christopher Coyea, and Alex Fleuriau Chateau performing Little Drummer Boy. Two men stand in front of a stained glass window. They hold open folders and are singing.

 

Being from a small town and being a part of the performing arts community, I have always seen it to be important to keep a good network of people. When creating this project, I had so many people who were eager to work with me and help me if needed.  

It was wonderful to see how happy it made people to be part of a project like this. The video received over 500 views, which I felt was a great accomplishment. We also received many positive reviews.  

I had one participant write me about the experience. They said they enjoyed doing the show from their own home. It gave them an opportunity to be creative. They could set the background exactly right, get the perfect lighting, etc. Although the technical aspect was a bit tricky, once they got the hang of it they were fine. They were glad to see everyone coming together to put the show on even if they could not do so in person. They said if they were given another chance, they would love to do it again. 

Another participant told me that with all the negativity and confusion in the media there were so many people looking for comfort. Therefore, they said it was an easy decision when asked if they would take part. While nothing is like the real thing, the virtual concert provided an opportunity to bring some joy to sad hearts. The concert gave them a real sense of purpose. The most poignant moment for them was the closing number. A bunch of the participants filmed themselves singing silent night and my editor pieced them all together to create a virtual choir. They said they were really honored to take part and they pray that it brough comfort and peace to all who watched.

I would consider doing this project again. I would however make a few changes. I would start planning earlier in the Fall, as I had little time between coming up with the idea and jumping headfirst into the project. I would also be strict on deadlines. I allowed people to get extensions on due dates, and many of those people did not end up being in the video as they still did not submit anything. Being strict on the deadlines would have allowed less stress on both myself and my video editor. There were some things that I would likely do again as I found they worked well. I found that for the most part allowing people to pick their own songs made sure they would be interested in performing those pieces. I would continue to have everyone use their smart phones to film as it made sure that the video quality was similar and most people nowadays have a smartphone with a decent camera on it and that have fairly good audio. It also ensured that the videos were in the same format because everyone filmed in landscape.  

Image Description: Johnstown Gospel Singers performing Go Tell It On The Mountain. Pictured are singers in a church, a large cross behind them. They are all standing and signing.

Image Description: Johnstown Gospel Singers performing Go Tell It On The Mountain. Pictured are singers in a church, a large cross behind them. They are all standing and signing.

 

Overall, this project was a great learning experience. I was glad our community could work together to create something that all ages could enjoy. I am glad that I was able to do something that made such an impact on others, it created joy for those involved and for those who viewed the finished project.

Supporting diversity within the rural theatre community

The final blog in a series of three from Guest Blogger Rebecca Anne Bloom

I never grew up and saw myself as a ‘colour.’ Race was something I learned about, yet I didn’t consider myself to be anything but … myself. It wasn’t until I was in the acting industry did I start to recognize racial discrimination against me.

The first instance was when I auditioned for a film noir play based in the 1960s. The director told me that I wasn’t cast because realistically, there wouldn’t be a black detective during that era. Over the years, I have been prevented leading roles in plays by well known playwrights like Norm Foster or Neil Simon, as well as musicals such as ‘Mary Poppins’ or ‘Anne of Green Gables’ because I was a person of colour. Typically, based on the cast components or era of the play, one visualizes Caucasion actors for these productions. It’s hard to be the BIPOC daughter for a Caucasian family. This then bares the question, why do theatres choose these pieces time and time again? And why is casting not diversified? I can’t say I have a definitive answer, but I have theories.

Five arms stretch inwards so that the hands are on top of each other. They are over a desk with a laptop and papers on.

Photo by fauxels (https://www.pexels.com/@fauxels?) from Pexels (https://www.pexels.com)

The case for diversity

There are two ‘camps’ that I have come across in my time as an actor, the one who eagerly tries to hire a diverse cast and the one that is a concious or unconcious racial bias. The later is typically more prevalant in rural communities, because BIPOC individuals and performers are a smaller section of the population. However, both ‘camps’ can be equally problematic. 

When talking to rural theatres, I have been told that hiring BIPOC and LGTBQ+ performers is difficult for many reasons. One, there are not many in the surrounding area. Many theatres also feel that up-in-coming actors from the GTA are not interested in being cast in rural Ontario. The cliental of many theatres are also an older generation, who may be uncomfortable with ‘out of the box’ productions – shows that present BIPOC and LGTBQ+ storylines. And, as I mentioned before, some plays are not created for a diverse cast. It is simply easier to select a ‘tried and true’ play and cast familiar actors. Especially in the time of the pandemic, theatres aren’t looking to produce shows that push the societal envelop and have a lot of financial risk. 

For those that are looking to be more diverse, I’ve noticed that they either select a single person to be the spokesperson of diversity. Or the act of finding or hiring BIPOC inviduals is like a mathmatic formula. Casting has an audition notice that states in politically correct terms that they are open to all ethncities, sexualities, and genders. In my case, I was asked to be part of a diversity performance and specifically questioned about whether I was a person of colour and part of the LGTBQ+ community. When I said yes, the person went on to explain who else was selected, almost boasting about how ‘diverse’ it was. In all those situations, in an attempt to be more inclusive, the BIPOC or LGTBQ+ individual is still made to feel like an ‘other.’

Is there a solution?

You may have reached this part and asked, “okay, so what is the solution then?” I think the answer is simply, if you are a theatre company in a rural locale, make sure you are providing opportunities for BIPOC and up-in-coming performance professionals. When you are picking productions and casting, ask yourself some critical questions.  

  • Are there any problematic elements of the play? Something miminal like a line comparing a person to a monkey may seem harmless, but that example has racial underpinnings. 
  • Can I cast anyone in this role, regardless of race or sexuality? If not, why and is that imperative to the play?
  • Am I allowing new talent into the company? 
  • Am I allowing for all voices to be heard?

Last month, Globus Theatre had a delightful reading of a new play by Ellen Denny called Pleasureville, about a city gal who moves to a small town and opens a sex shop. It was a fresh take on life, and had a female and non-binary cast. Pleasureville: a play reading was an easy way to push away from the typical Caucasian male narrative in plays, and offer a storyline that actually isn’t new, but very – ordinary. Afterall, diversity is something that occurs every day, and we should let art speak about this truth too. 

Hippo Puppets & Joy!/Marionnettes Hippopotames

The final blog in a series of three from Samantha Marchionda writing on behalf of Carousel Players

I’m writing today from the traditional land of the Haudenosaunee, the Anishnaabe, the Neutral and Wendat peoples. I thank them and all other nations, recorded and unrecorded, who have cared for the land that I’m on today since time immemorial. I’ve been continuing to spend a lot of time at the creek near my home, finding new trails and taking in beautiful scenery, and I feel eternally grateful for those who have taken care of this land. How will you connect with the land today?

In a time where the world is upside down and the internet and news continue to breed so much negativity, I wanted to take this, my final blog, as an opportunity to spread what is hopefully some joy to you.

Hippo Puppets

In 2005 Carousel Players produced a play called George and Martha (based on the books by James Marshall between 1972-1988) about two best friends who happen to be hippopotamus puppets. While I wasn’t with the organization at that point in time, I’ve been lucky enough to share an office with these two cuties during my time with Carousel Players before we had to shut down and work from home. These past few months while we’ve been working on creative ways to engage with our audiences online, I had an idea. At this point, George and Martha were unfortunately sitting in the office collecting dust. But I thought, what if we incorporated them into our next outreach initiative? They could be performing various tasks from home, much like most of us are these days. We could engage with local businesses and incorporate them into George and Martha’s adventures, and create a little online campaign. Luckily, the team was very receptive to this idea and I got approval to proceed.

 

Samantha sits between two large puppets of two hippos - George and Martha (Martha is on the left and George on the right). Samantha smiles broadly.

Image Description – Samantha sits between two large puppets of  grey hippos – George and Martha (Martha is on the left wearing a dotted skirt and George on the right and is wearing a straw hat). Samantha smiles broadly. Her long dark hair is down and she wears a burgundy cardigan.

 

I brought George and Martha home with me and began reaching out to local businesses to gauge interest. Over a couple of months, I interacted with local businesses and made various small purchases. I would bring the items home, stage George and Martha, and capture them doing their at-home activity. I designed all the posts (a first for me!) and wrote the social media content for each. We called it At-Home Adventures. We turned it into a guessing game and encouraged followers to guess which business George and Martha got their items from. It was an absolute blast!

The goal behind this was simply to make others smile and maybe even feel a little warm and fuzzy inside. But to my surprise, it ended up doing the exact same thing for me. Without fail, as I would pose George’s hat just right or angle Martha’s hand perfectly so during a shoot, I would take a few steps back to capture them both in the frame, a huge smile would grace my face! While this ‘joy’ was intended for our followers, I had no idea how much of an impact it would have on me. They were and are SO adorable, and I highly encourage you to take a look on our social media (@carouselplayers) if you’d like to smile today! Sadly, the campaign is coming to an end soon and George and Martha are back at the office, but I know it won’t be the last time we get to hang out. I’m so grateful for the unexpected joy those two brought me.

A close up selfie photo of Samantha and Martha the Hippo puppet. Samantha is smiling and looks happy. She wears a scarf tied as a headband in her dark hair. Martha, on the left of the selfie, is a grey hippo puppet and has a red rose on her head.

Image description: A close up selfie photo of Samantha and Martha the Hippo puppet. Samantha is smiling and looks happy. She wears a scarf tied as a headband in her dark hair. Martha, on the left of the selfie, is a grey hippo puppet and has a red rose on her head.

 

Connecting

A large part of my job as Outreach Coordinator is to engage with the public, and I have been sorely missing meeting people I don’t already know! I love hearing their stories and engaging in conversations. I didn’t know how much I was missing it until I got an opportunity to connect with local businesses as part of my At-Home Adventures efforts. As we developed the campaign, I got to meet some of the sweetest and kindest local business owners in Niagara. I had no idea how much short exchanges of in-person conversation were missing from my life, and I was finally able to do that again. What a joy! Everyone I met was so grateful that we took an interest in what they do and were so generous, whether that was offering a discount code or a gift certificate for our guessers. Meeting these people was already a blessing for me, but what really gave me a sense of purpose was knowing that our small purchases were making such a difference to them. I know we’ve all heard it from the rooftops, but this is just a friendly reminder to support your small locally owned businesses during this time! You might be surprised how much joy it brings YOU.

Children’s Books

Book cover of Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! There is a dark blue background with a grey speech bubble on the left of the cover. On the bottom right is a drawing of a pigeon, in light blue.

Image Description: Book cover of Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! There is a dark blue background with a grey speech bubble on the left of the cover. On the bottom right is a drawing of a pigeon, in light blue.

 

In my “research” for creating the social media content for George and Martha, I ended up reading the entire anthology of George and Martha books, which includes about 7 books with 5 stories in each. I will admit that I am a full-blown adult here and at first felt a little ridiculous reading these children’s books. But one thing was undeniable: they made me smile SO MUCH! They were charming, witty, and at times hilarious! And I thought to myself, if I enjoy them this much then there’s something to be said for that! I have since continued reading other children’s books from the local library, and I’m not even a little bit ashamed.

I don’t know about you, but in these times especially, when I come across something that makes me smile a lot, I feel a need to hang onto that. With so much heaviness in the world right now, it’s important to balance the light happy things too, and when possible, allow that positive energy to lift us up! I strongly encourage you to see where you can find little timbits of joy in your day (yes you read that correctly). Pick up a favourite childhood book or engage in an activity that you used to enjoy as a child. See if you can find something positive in your day and make that feeling last longer! Hopefully, it can lift your spirits and make you smile.

It has been a privilege to share little parts of myself with you in these few blogs and I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed reading. Thank you to the SPARC network for this wonderful opportunity, and my first, to write blogs. Please feel free to reach out to me at outreach@carouselplayers.com and I’d be happy to connect with you anytime. Take good care and stay safe. ♥


Le dernier blog d’une série de trois, rédigé par Samantha Marchionda au nom de Carousel Players

Je vous écris aujourd’hui sur le territoire traditionnel des peuples Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, Neutral et Wendat. Je remercie les premiers habitants qui ont pris soin de ces terres depuis des temps immémoriaux. Je continue à dépasser mon temps proche du ruisseau de chez moi. Je trouve toujours des nouveaux sentiers et j’admire la vue de la forêt et de l’eau chaque fois que j’y vais. Je suis très reconnaissante envers les gardiens de la terre. Comment allez-vous vous connecter avec la terre aujourd’hui?

À une époque où le monde est à l’envers, où on reçoit toujours de mauvaises nouvelles et il y a tellement de négativité autour de nous, je voulais profiter de ce dernier blog pour partager ce que j’espère va répandre la joie. Voici quelques petites choses qui m’ont apporté de la joie récemment.

Marionnettes Hippopotames

En 2005, Carousel Players a produit une pièce de théâtre intitulée George and Martha basée sur les livres par James Marshall écrits entre 1972-1988. Le spectacle suivait deux meilleurs amis qui sont des marionnettes hippopotames. Bien que je n’étais pas avec l’organisation en 2005, j’ai eu la chance de partager un bureau avec les deux mignonnes quand j’ai commencé à travailler pour Carousel Players en 2019. Récemment, pendant que je travaillais à domicile sur des moyens créatifs d’interagir avec le public, j’ai eu une idée. A ce moment-là, George et Martha étaient malheureusement au bureau seuls et devenaient un petit peu poussiéreux. Je me suis posé la question: qu’est-ce qui arriverait si on les intégrait dans notre prochaine initiative communautaire? On pourrait partager des photos d’eux sur nos médias sociaux en train de faire des diverses tâches à la maison. On pourrait nous engager avec des entreprises locales et intégrer leurs produits dans les aventures de George et Martha. Heureusement, l’équipe était très enthousiaste et j’ai eu la permission de créer une campagne de publicité en ligne.

 

Samantha sits between two large puppets of two hippos - George and Martha (Martha is on the left and George on the right). Samantha smiles broadly.

Description de l’image – Samantha est assise entre deux grandes marionnettes d’hippopotames gris – George et Martha (Martha est à gauche et porte une jupe à pois et George à droite et porte un chapeau de paille). Samantha affiche un large sourire. Ses longs cheveux bruns sont lâchés et elle porte un cardigan bordeaux.

 

J’ai visité le bureau pour apporter George et Martha chez moi et j’ai connecté avec plusieurs petites entreprises pour la campagne. Après ça, j’ai mis George et Martha en scène avec leurs objets locaux et j’ai pris des photos. J’ai conçu toutes les images (c’était ma première fois!) et j’ai écrit le contenu pour les médias sociaux. On l’a appelé “At-Home Adventures”. On a transformé la campagne en jeu de devinettes et on a encouragé nos suiveurs à deviner de quelle entreprise George et Martha ont obtenu leurs objets/nourriture etc. C’était tellement amusant!

Le but de tout cela c’était simplement de faire sourire les autres et peut-être même d’encourager des sentiments chaleureux, mais à ma grande surprise, cela m’a fait exactement la même chose! Je poserais le chapeau de George un petit peu à la droite ou la main de Martha parfaitement, et lorsque je reculerais pour les capturer, sans faute, un gros sourire ornait mon visage! Alors que cette «joie» était destinée pour nos suiveurs, je ne savais pas que ça m’impacterait aussi positivement. Les marionnettes sont assez adorables! Je vous encourage vivement à jeter un œil sur nos réseaux sociaux (@carouselplayers) si vous souhaitez voir George et Martha et leurs aventures “chez eux”! Malheureusement, la campagne approche bientôt sa fin et George et Martha seront de retour au bureau, mais je sais que ce ne sera pas la dernière fois que nous allons jouer ensemble. Je suis tellement reconnaissante pour la joie inattendue que ces deux hippopotames m’ont amené.

A close up selfie photo of Samantha and Martha the Hippo puppet. Samantha is smiling and looks happy. She wears a scarf tied as a headband in her dark hair. Martha, on the left of the selfie, is a grey hippo puppet and has a red rose on her head.

Description de l’image : Une photo de selfie en gros plan de Samantha et de Martha la marionnette hippopotame. Samantha sourit et semble heureuse. Elle porte un foulard noué comme un bandeau dans ses cheveux noirs. Martha, à gauche du selfie, est une marionnette hippopotame grise et a une rose rouge sur la tête.

 

Connexion Humaine

Une grande partie de mon poste de coordonnatrice communautaire c’est d’interagir avec le public, et je m’ennuie tellement de rencontrer des gens que je ne connais pas déjà! J’adore discuter et écouter leurs histoires. Je ne savais pas à quel point cela me manquait jusqu’à ce que j’ai eu l’occasion de me connecter avec des entreprises locales dans mes efforts avec “At-Home Adventures”. Pendant la campagne, j’ai rencontré plusieurs propriétaires d’entreprises locales et ils étaient tous extrêmement gentils. Je ne savais pas que les courts échanges de conversations en personne manquaient tellement dans ma vie, et j’ai finalement eu la chance de parler avec les autres. Quelle joie! Tout le monde que j’ai rencontré était si reconnaissant d’avoir reçu le soutien communautaire et ils étaient très généreux. Plusieurs ont offert un code de réduction ou un chèque-cadeau pour nos devineurs. Le fait que j’étais capable de rencontrer des nouvelles personnes était déjà un cadeau pour moi, mais ce qui m’a vraiment donné le sens du but était le fait que nos petits achats les aidait beaucoup. Je sais qu’on entend souvent parler de l’importance de soutenir nos petites entreprises locales ces temps-ci et je vous le répète! La joie que cela peut vous apporter pourrait vous surprendre.

Les livres pour enfants

Book cover of Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! There is a dark blue background with a grey speech bubble on the left of the cover. On the bottom right is a drawing of a pigeon, in light blue.

Description de l’image : Couverture du livre Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late ! Il y a un fond bleu foncé avec une bulle de texte grise sur la gauche de la couverture. En bas à droite se trouve le dessin d’un pigeon, en bleu clair.

 

Dans mes “recherches” pour le contenu des médias sociaux pour George et Martha, j’ai eu de l’inspiration directement à la source: j’ai fini par lire l’anthologie entière George and Martha, qui comprend environ 7 livres avec 5 histoires chaque. J’admets que j’ai plus que trente ans et je me sentais un petit peu ridicule en lisant des livres pour enfants. Mais quelque chose de surprenant m’est arrivé: ils m’ont fait sourire BEAUCOUP! Ils étaient innocents, charmants, et parfois très drôles! Je me suis dit, si je les trouve aussi plaisants, il faut que je continue à m’apporter des sourires! Depuis lors, je continue à louer des livres pour enfants de la bibliothèque locale et je les lis, je ris, et je vous le dis sans embarras. Ils me font chaud au cœur et cela pour moi est très important.

Je ne sais pas pour vous, mais en ces temps-ci, quand je tombe sur quelque chose qui me rend content, je ressens le besoin de m’accrocher. Avec tant de lourdeur dans le monde, c’est important d’équilibrer avec la légèreté et, quand possible, permettre l’énergie positive de nous élever. Je vous encourage fortement à trouver des petits timbits de joie (oui, vous avez bien lu) dans votre journée. Ouvrez un livre préféré de votre jeunesse ou faites quelque chose que vous avez aimé comme enfant. Trouvez quelque chose de positif dans votre journée et faites-la durer aussi longtemps que possible! Remarquez ce que vous ressentez. J’espère que ça touche vos esprits et que vous souriez davantage.

Ce fut pour moi un privilège de pouvoir vous adresser et de partager avec vous des petites parties de moi. J’espère sincèrement que vous avez apprécié la lecture. Un gros merci au réseau SPARC pour cette merveilleuse chance de vous écrire. Si vous voulez me contacter, envoyez-moi un courriel à outreach@carouselplayers.com et je serai heureuse de vous répondre. Prenez soin et restez en bonne santé. ♥

From Typical Country Hockey Kid to Emerging Artist

By SPARC Youth Blogger Darian Willis-Maddock

Have you ever wondered where to find local, young artistic and creative talent in your rural community? Have you ever considered checking at your local arena?  What could a young typical country hockey kid have to do with the arts? Well, let me tell you my story.

As a young artist growing up in the rural area of the Haliburton Highlands, I was exposed to lots of different things, but I was especially directed towards activities like hockey, basketball and other sports. In my home town everyone really prides themselves with our athletic culture. I really love that our community, and most rural communities, have this passion, but I later discovered in my high-school years that there is another component to our community that often gets put on the back burner –  the arts!

 

 a headshot of Darian Willis-Maddock. He wears a dark spots coat over a white t-shirt. His hair is short and he looks directly at the camera.

Image Description – a headshot of Darian Willis-Maddock. He wears a dark spots coat over a white t-shirt. His hair is short and he looks directly at the camera.

 

When I was in elementary school, I hated the thought of anything to do with the arts!  Whether it was visual art or drama or even music, I dreaded going to those classes, and in rural schools I don’t think this was an isolated case. All throughout elementary grades my friends and I despised the arts, but once we hit high-school, for most of us, the narrative changed. In Ontario you are required to take an arts credit in grade nine, so I joined drama and I quickly realized… I actually like this!  I apparently had a hidden talent that I never knew I had. I loved to be in front of people, to tell stories and playing different characters. In my grade nine year I received the junior drama award and my career in the arts confidently grew from there!

In the summer when I was fifteen, I decided to try guitar class instead of drama, and once again, surprised… I fell in love with music. Music became my favorite pastime outside of hockey. I sat in my room for hours practicing songs and learning chords. In grade ten I met Greg Sadlier who was doing various arts education programs at my school, and he saw a lot of artistic potential in me. That  summer I was asked to  join his  organization Camexicanus as their assistant director.  Camexicanus is a non-profit organization that connects rural youth artists around all North America and Central America. During my time working for Camexicanus I have learned incredible amounts about myself as an artist and I have  fallen more and more in love with the arts as a whole. Last summer we toured Northern Ontario and visited a town that really struck me, a small town called Wawa- there’s a lot more to it than just “the goose”! In this past year getting to know Wawa I have met so many passionate young artists that are struggling to find their way due to the same roadblocks that all rural artists face. I have learned that it is a common theme for rural artists to experience challenges, such as not having enough public support and not having proper funding.

 

Two white males stand together holding a sign for Camexicanus. There is a car behind them

Image Description: Darian stands with Greg Sadlier.They hold a sign for Camexicanus Backroad Arts Collective. They are both smiling.

 

These types of issues are enormous “show stoppers” for young artists in rural areas. It usually begins with a lack of interest due to the lack of normalcy the arts have in rural communities. Often in rural communities such as Haliburton and Wawa there is a  stigma that the arts are reserved for retired folk and cottagers, but my own experience proves that this is simply not true! Once young artists can realize their initial potential, they quickly run into yet another roadblock. Rural communities (or other levels of government) do not invest heavily in local arts and culture. There are very few significant arts programs/facilities that are able to be funded by the municipal governments for kids. Without these spaces where youth can grow and feel safe to pursue their art, they will struggle to become accomplished artists or feel good about themselves and be proud of who they are and what they create.

On a larger scale I have also learned that there are a lot of artists in my home town of Halliburton that I didn’t even know about!  Artists that are great mentors for youth and young adults. I have come to believe that the arts in small towns like mine and Wawa are not normalized enough. For youth like myself, who have hidden passions and a love for the arts, it is so important that we are exposed to it from an early age. I consider myself very fortunate to have been surrounded with such amazing artists and role models, and my passion is to help bring more attention to rural arts so that other kids like me can have life changing opportunities. As adult artists allow me to ask on behalf of all the hidden, rural youth to reach out within your own communities and find all of the young creators. The arts have changed the life path of this country, hockey kid and I believe it can change it for so many more!