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'We need you every day': Phone-based art class keeps seniors connected during pandemic – CBC.ca

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When COVID-19 reached British Columbia this past spring, Norma Taite, who’s in her 80s, hunkered down in her South Surrey home, ready for her busy social life to shrink. 

But a new initiative to keep seniors in South Surrey and White Rock connected and engaged from the comfort of their homes has prevented that from happening. 

And Taite, a long-time “dabbler” in the arts, has experienced something of a creative renaissance along the way.

Since May, she and a small group of seniors in South Surrey and White Rock have taken part in an intimate, weekly art class conducted over the phone every Monday morning. The class is a part of a new project called Seniors’ Centre Without Walls (SCWW).

“Maybe I’m a new Grandma Moses?” Taite joked, referencing the American folk artist who only began painting at 78.

Like interactive radio

Modelled after similar programs elsewhere in North America, SCWW offers local seniors an opportunity to participate in numerous phone-based presentations and activities that mirror programming one might find at a seniors’ centre. 

Among many options, participants can join a book club, follow an exercise class, stay up-to-date on Japanese news (one of few non-English programs offered) or tune in to You be the Judge of That!, a program where participants collectively determine a verdict for real-life court cases — all through their telephone line.

SCWW, which launched in April, is a project from the Surrey Intercultural Seniors Social Inclusion Partnership (SISSIP) and is partially funded by the federal government.

Edwin Chau, who oversees SCWW, said the project was already in the works before the pandemic arrived. But these isolating times have given it even more purpose. 

During one art class CBC News joined, three different participants told the instructor the same thing: “We need you every day.”

For Chau, making the program accessible was always key. 

After a person signs up for a certain program, all they have to do is pick up the phone when it rings at the scheduled time, press a number and they’ve joined the call. 

Simplicity is important for the art program, as well. During one of the first classes, the instructor asked everyone to sketch a plant outside a nearby window using whatever tools and material they had lying around. 

“It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad,” said Chau. “It’s the opportunity to have that release, that artistic outlet during this time.”

Analog vs. digital 

Ahead of each class, Chau physically mails all the participants a poster detailing what to expect that week.

Claire Moore, who teaches the class alongside another artist, says the analog nature of the program may come off as romantic to some, but it’s deeply practical. 

At least one of the women in the class — which hovers around six members from week to week — doesn’t own a computer or a television.

“You are forced to reckon with: how do you live in this world if you don’t have any form of [digital] technology?” she said. “The only way is to use the systems that we all regard as archaic.”

Moore has taught art for years. Though she expected the phone to be the main challenge this time, she said there are other variables involved.

For instance, two participants are visually impaired, including Taite, who’s now legally blind after being diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) nearly a decade ago. The ocular condition leads to the severe blurring of one’s centre of vision.

“When I retired I thought: ‘OK, I’ll do this and that,'” Taite said.

A former art student with experience using clay, she had originally hoped to tap back into her creative side a few years ago, “however, health and fate got in the way.”

Added Taite with a laugh, “so here I am, painting at home with a telephone instructor.” 

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Black Lives Matter street art installations coming to Dartmouth, Halifax – CBC.ca

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The Halifax Regional Municipality will be painting the words “Black Lives Matter” in Halifax and Dartmouth this weekend.

The municipality said it was doing it to show support for the movement.

“This public solidarity augments several measures being taken by the municipality corporately to help address anti-Black racism and continue to build [a] better relationship with the municipality’s communities of African descent,” the municipality said in a news release on Friday.

Work on the first installation at Alderney Drive in Dartmouth will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Work on the second installation at Brunswick Street in Halifax will begin at 7 p.m. on Sunday.

The municipality said sidewalks will be open and access to businesses will be maintained and that at least one lane of vehicle traffic in each direction will be maintained while work is underway.

The bicycle lane on Brunswick Street will be closed while work is happening and cyclists and vehicles will share one single file lane around the work area.

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Oxygen Art Centre launches new adult classes – Nelson Star

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Submitted by Oxygen Art Centre

After much planning Oxygen is excited to launch their fall lineup of adult education opportunities, combining a fine array of online and small in-person classes.

Oxygen conducted a student survey earlier in June to find out how people were feeling (with COVID in mind) in regards to participating in arts education this fall. The response was very positive and clear — students want to be creative! Oxygen then got to work with their talented team of instructors and volunteers to re-vision how the educational offerings could be delivered in an innovative and safe way.

“Oxygen will be offering seven online courses and three small in-person courses this fall,” says education co-ordinator Natasha Smith.

“Many of our instructors have specifically created classes that can be taught online, utilizing the many tools that we now have available to make this learning experience rewarding, interactive and convenient for our students. Another benefit of online programming is that we are removing the barrier of travel for students that live outside of Nelson.”

The three in-person classes include Resurrecting the Lost Art of Letter Writing with Rayya Liebich, Eco-Printing on Textiles with Seathra Bell, and Painting on Another Level with Natasha Smith. The class sizes will be limited to a maximum of five students and all COVID-19 safety protocols at the centre will be in place.

Oxygen is also offering two online professional development courses for creatives this fall. Starting with Art Shack with artist Ian Johnston.

“It’s a visual arts professional development free-for-all!” says Johnston. “Over four evenings of group conversation we will harness the hive mind and the experience of the participants to explore a self-identified group of professional development issues such as proposals, statements, audience, networks and researching opportunities.”

This is an opportunity to share, develop your skills, and meet other artists in a supportive, collaborative space. The second professional development course is How to Submit to Commercial Galleries with artist Kristy Gordon, who will unveil the practical steps you can take to develop a connection with a commercial gallery. The one-session course includes a lecture, discussions and individual feedback.

Deborah Thompson has designed an online drawing course: Drawing with the World in Mind. This course will run twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the month of October.

“The COVID-19 Global Pandemic has highlighted a long list of global problems; climate change, homelessness, opioid crisis, racism, classism and more. Leaning into a creative practice during these times is helpful in developing meaningful insights and in cultivating imaginative ways to give constructive shape to the future,” says Thompson.

Many students will be excited that Bessie Wapp is offering Singing the Blues Goes Virtual this Fall. In this seven-week course you will explore the rich swamp of the human voice in a relaxed and supportive environment through online group and one-on-one sessions. In November, Rayya Liebich will be offering an online Poetry Immersion course. From the comfort of your home immerse yourself in the language of poetry. Weekly online classes will focus on studying the craft of poetry (image, form, feeling) and allow time for a series of guided writing prompts to help hone your writing skills.

Also running in November and over five classes Natasha Smith will be offering Moving into Abstraction as an online course. Through a series of hands-on projects, students will explore various techniques and alternative ways to develop ideas and images that will encourage a more abstract way of working.

Interdisciplinary artist, prOphecy sun will be offering an innovative course this Fall: Sonic Imaginaries: An Introduction to Creating Electronic Compositions. This online beginner level studio course explores a wide range of methods and conceptual approaches to creating electronic sound. prOphecy explains: “Each week will explore how sound emerges and will survey conceptual and methodological techniques used in music, video, sound art, and other artistic production.”

Register today for online and in-person art classes taking place throughout October and November with Oxygen’s incredible artist instructors. Don’t wait — spaces are limited. Learn more about the upcoming classes below and on our website at https://oxygenartcentre.org/classes/adult/.

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Hot air balloons, drive-in concerts and highway art: What's on this weekend in Calgary – CBC.ca

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Organizations are continuing to come out with fresh and creative ways to entertain Calgarians, and this weekend is no different.

There’s good eats, concerts and multiple art shows that highlight local talent.

Ellis Choe from The Homestretch on CBC Radio has compiled some of those offerings, so check out the events below! 

Food

There’s a pop-up marketplace celebrating prairie food this weekend that also ensures gathering people safely.

The Prairie Grid Market will have over 50 local food and drink vendors at the Carter Cadillac car dealership on Heritage Drive in southeast Calgary.

Dan Clapsen, the organizer of the event, says a majority of the stalls are operated by local restaurant and bar owners.

 “There’s a really interesting build-your-own-cocktail kit booth setup by Cannibale, which is a popular cocktail bar in Bridgeland. Bridgette Bar has made a line of dried pastas,” he said.

On Saturday and Sunday, there will be music and art for patrons to enjoy.

It’s recommend you pre-book your visit online, given the limited capacity and physical distancing required.

Balloon Festival

The festival will feature 17 Canadian hot air balloons. ((CBC))

The 8th Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival is underway in High River, but due to COVID-19, only Canadian balloons are participating.

The festival was scheduled to take place from Wednesday through Sunday, although high winds have forced cancellations. As of 2 p.m. on Friday, it was unclear whether they’d be able to take off at 5 p.m. Friday. If not, there are three more chances depending on the weather: Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m. Check the festival’s Facebook feed to see if it’s a go.

The committee says that while no passengers or spectators will be allowed at the launch site, you can volunteer to be part of the field crew and get a front row seat. 

Karen Williamson, the committee vice-chair, says that while there’s no guarantee, the pilot may let you be a passenger on board as well.

And for those who don’t volunteer, head to the northwest corner of High River to see them launch. 

Arts

If you like road trips and art, you can catch the Most Beautiful Art Tour in Alberta, which is a part of Alberta Culture Days.

Along Highway 22 and Highway 2A, otherwise known as “Cowboy Trail,” there is a community of artists opening their studios and galleries to the public.

Catch artwork in Millarville, Turner Valley, Black Diamond and Okotoks to learn more about the diverse group of artists working outside of Calgary.

The open studio events will be on from Friday to Sunday, but each gallery has different operating hours.

And if you like your art paired with a movie, the Indefinite Arts Centre is holding an open house/movie night. 

You can check out the artwork of artists with disabilities, as well as the screening of Infinity — a documentary about the world-renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, famous for her polka dot installations.

The free event is on Saturday from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., but make sure to reserve a spot.

Music

From the comfort of your car, you get to enjoy six concerts over the weekend. (Antoine Saito)

And finally, some concerts in the Calgary area! Grab your social circle and attend the drive-in concert at Telus Spark.

“Rise Up Weekend” is brought to you by local organizations, including Calgary ReggaeFest, Folk Fest and Stampede.

Patti Pon, one of the organizers as well as president of Calgary Arts Development, says the event is all about the coming together of six organizations presenting six concerts.

“We wanted to find a way to create some amazing art experiences, albeit smaller settings with fewer people,” she said.

Tickets are $25 per car for up to four guests.

The first show is Friday at 6:15 p.m., when Calgary Folk Fest presents Sargeant X Comrade and the Blake Read Band.

For something more contemporary, the National Music Centre is continuing its hybrid live music and virtual concert series, RBC Live, from the King Eddy.

You can attend the free event in-person or stream from the comfort of your home.

The first show is Friday at 8:30 p.m. and features Lucette, an alt-pop artist from Edmonton.

And then for another virtual concert experience, you can stream Early Music Voices, a local group that presents music from the medieval, Renaissance and baroque periods.

The group is kicking off its season with a virtual concert featuring Calgary musician Benjamin Narvey, who plays the lute.

Enjoy the music this Sunday at 7:30 p.m., and listen to a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m.


With files from The Homestretch

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