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Art festival showcases talent, skill of Nova Scotians with disabilities –



Megan Schofield was raised on stories of a magical school that only taught art: NSCAD University.

She found her way there, but a diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy came just months after she graduated from NSCAD in 2017. Her vision began slipping away, but her passion for art never wavered.

“It just seemed like there was no reason to give up now,” said Schofield, who lives in Halifax. “Like, I’ve come this far. We’ve got to go further. It’s what I really want.

“A couple issues and complications aren’t going to bring me down now.”

Megan Schofield is a NSCAD University grad, and frequently works with themes of light and dark as they are easiest to see with her limited vision. (Megan Schofield)

Schofield is one of the many artists participating in this year’s Art of Disability Festival. It runs Aug. 16-20 and is hosted by Independent Living Nova Scotia. 

For the second year in a row, everything is taking place online as the province and country deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the festival, people can check out the virtual catalogue of artists at the ILNS website and visit their personal websites or social media pages to look through any works they have available for sale. 

The online aspect means the event is open to any Canadian artist this year.

First time entering festival

Schofield, who primarily draws, had her vision stabilized after rounds of treatments and injections. But she is legally blind in both eyes without corrective lenses.

Her vision loss has changed her work, she said, leading her to focus more on contrasts like light and dark, which is what’s easiest for her to see. 

This is Schofield’s first time at the festival, and she said she loved the idea of something highlighting artists and creators who “just don’t get as much attention as I think a lot of them should.”

Jen Powley, a fellow festival participant and Halifax writer, also said she wanted to take part because she’s “constantly amazed” by what other people are able to make. 

Powley has published two books: a memoir called Just Jen about living with multiple sclerosis, and one of interactive fiction titled Sounds Like a Halifax Adventure

“I love creating because I am in control of the words. I get to say when, and how,” Powley said via a text-to-speech system.

“The event is important because it highlights what people are able to do, not what their disabilities are.”

Writer Jen Powley of Halifax is taking part in this year’s Art of Disability Festival (CBC)

She said moving the festival online again this year was the right call since many artists are in vulnerable health situations and this removes any risk.

But the fact that an event like this still has to exist in 2021, in a time when people with disabilities have low rates of employment and little government support, is “disheartening,” Powley said.

However, Powley said such a festival is helping build a better province. As Nova Scotia has committed that the province will be accessible by 2030, Powley said the biggest obstacle to achieving that goal is overcoming “deeply ingrained” biases. 

She said the festival shows the talents and imagination of the participants.

Meaghan Ernst, left, and Brad Gabriel are summer co-coordinators for Independent Living Nova Scotia. They are putting together this year’s Art of Disability Festival. (Meaghan Ernst, Brad Gabriel)

Meaghan Ernst and Brad Gabriel, summer co-coordinators for ILNS, said in a recent interview they had about 12 artists signed up so far but hoped for many more before the Thursday deadline.

In the past, Ernst said they’ve had artists in various mediums including books, paintings, sculptures, costume design and many more forms of art.

ILNS is also hosting free virtual events throughout the week on Zoom, including a paint-a-long and dance event. 


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New App Aims to Promote Province's Thriving Art Community – VOCM



A new app aims to get people outside and appreciating art in public places all over the province.

The Explore Art NL app leads users to more than 100 existing works of art in communities from St. John’s to Makkovik, inviting people to spend more time in those locations, while possibly meeting others with mutual appreciation.

The works thus far include everything from sculptures to memorials and murals, but anyone can upload their own creations to the growing list.

Business and Arts NL executive director Amy Henderson says they modelled their app on a smaller version in Manitoba.

She says they were inspired by the app used by the Winnipeg Arts Council, but needed to expand it on a larger scale for the entire province.

Vanessa Iddon came up with the design for their so-called ‘Art Car’, a Genesis GV80 which will be touring the region to promote the new app.

The overall initiative is also supported by the federal government, City of St. John’s and Tract Consulting.

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Art Crawl bounces back for 2021 – Coast Reporter



The 2021 Sunshine Coast Art Crawl, from Oct. 20 to 24, will feature more venues, more artists, and fewer pandemic-related changes than were in place in 2020, unless new health orders are issued before then by the provincial government.

“Because there are so many individual venues, there’s no way we can do any kind of [COVID-related] recommendations overall, other than that the venues follow the provincial guidelines,” Coast Cultural Alliance (CCA) board member and spokesperson Linda Williams told Coast Reporter.

In 2020, the Art Crawl dropped to 97 venues, down by nearly half from the record high of 186 locations in those heady pre-COVID days of October 2019.

This year, the number of venues has jumped back up, to 164, with more than 250 artists participating.

The 2020 version also tried to accommodate health concerns by offering vendors some options, as on online-only venue, or taking in visitors only by appointment. Those choices aren’t on the table for 2021, but the overarching guideline is still safety-first.

“We are following all the health regulations, period,” Williams said.

At press time, the only restriction on indoor events where participants are not seated is that masks be worn at all times by those over the age of 12. Requiring proof of vaccination is optional for venues where the number of visitors is kept under 50. Some smaller Art Crawl venues might ask for vaccination cards, but for now that’s at their discretion.

“We were just going to have to take responsibility as individuals, as artists and as visitors,” said Williams.

Sign-in sheets will be required for all venues, not for pandemic contact purposes, but in order that the CCA can collect a few statistics.

Art crawlers can also answer a quick online survey to be eligible for prizes of a two-night stay at Painted Boat Resort Spa & Marina, or ferry travel vouchers. Winners will be named in a draw to be held on Oct. 31.

Williams noted there are 46 new venues this year. Also, there are more in the Pender Harbour area than ever – 15. And for some reason, there’s been a blossoming of new Art Crawl locations at the west end of Beach Avenue in Roberts Creek.

“There are eight of them that are on Beach Avenue close to Henderson (Road) this year,” she said. “And I think seven of them are new.”

The Art Crawl is also welcoming a new major sponsor this year, Longman Developments.

“They’ve come in because their core values are similar to ours, in community-building,” said Williams. Sunshine Coast Credit Union is also back as a major sponsor, Williams noted, as it has been since 2010.

Art Crawl does receive modest grant support from local governments but is not eligible for provincial or federal funding, so is otherwise dependent on local business sponsorships and $135 venue fees to make the event possible.

The Art Crawl generated close to $600,000 in sales and commissions in 2019.

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Art Beat: Coast artist heads to show in New York City – Coast Reporter



Roberts Creek artist Kandice Keith is on the U.S. East Coast this week to show her nature-inspired paintings at the Affordable Art Fair in New York City, Thursday, Sept. 23 to Sunday, Sept. 26. “It’s a really amazing opportunity,” Keith said in an interview. “I’m very fortunate.” Keith was set to go to the twice-yearly fair in March 2020, but the outbreak of COVID-19 put an end to that plan. “This is a make-up for that show,” Keith said. She’s also slated to return to the NYC fair at the Metropolitan Pavilion next March. You can see some of Keith’s vivid and luminous work currently on display at the Gumboot Café.


Anna Lumiere, Grant Olsen, and Coast String Fiddlers are among the performers featured at Oktoberfest, which has been on all week in downtown Sechelt until Friday, Sept. 24. A full rundown of acts and events can be found at Celebrations move to Rockwood Lodge on from 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, where more live music is planned. Prizes for best lederhosen and beer stein.


FibreWorks Studio & Gallery in Madeira Park had planned an opening reception last Saturday for its new, juried exhibition, A Beautiful Mess: the joyful & random discovery of the artistic process. The reception has been rescheduled for this Saturday, Sept. 25, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Scent and Soul

You can meet Rohanna Goodwin Smith, author of Scent and Soul: The Extraordinary Power of the Sense of Smell, at One Flower One Leaf Gallery on Marine Drive in Gibsons, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 25 and 26, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Live Music

Peter Van plays a solo show on piano at the Clubhouse Restaurant in Pender Harbour on Friday Sept. 24, from 5 to 8 p.m. Then, for a $5 cover on Sunday, Sept. 26 from 2 to 5 p.m. you can hear the Steve Hinton Band.

The Howesounders host a Friday night jam session at Roberts Creek Legion on Sept. 24, starting at 7 p.m. Sign up at the door to book some solo- or group stage-time. On Saturday, Sept. 25, there’s a Jeevious/Jaggs Jambouree, where members of the Jeevious family and a few players from Vancouver’s Staggers and Jaggs will shake things up for a few hours, starting at 7 p.m. Jim Foster is at the Backeddy Resort and Marina in Egmont, weather permitting, on Saturday, Sept. 25 from 4 to 7 p.m.

Banditry Cider on Pratt Road in Gibsons is staging its first Apple Festival on Sunday Sept. 26, with a lot of family-friendly frivolity starting at 11 a.m. The band The Burying Ground plays from 4 to 6 p.m.

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