Wednesday, 02 October 2013 13:24

Culture Days in Swift Current a showcase of vibrant arts and culture community

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Swift Current residents were able to show their love for culture during the third celebration of Culture Days in the city from Sept. 27-29.

The activities in Swift Current over the weekend formed part of similar free events across the country aimed at providing Canadians with opportunities to participate and appreciate arts and culture in their communities.
The important contribution of culture to the community was highlighted during the kick-off event for Culture Days at the Art Gallery of Swift Current (AGSC) on Sept. 27.
“One of the things that I think have really changed when you look around Swift Current, is the awareness of culture around our community and that continues to grow,” Mayor Jerrod Schafer said.
He thanked the local Culture Days organizers and volunteers for their contribution to make Swift Current a growing and thriving community.
“There’s certainly a select core group of individuals that do a lot of heavy lifting in Swift Current in not only promoting culture and certainly arts in Swift Current, but also a lot of the celebrations that we have in our community,” he said. “Also along with that core group, there’s a lot of volunteers.”
SaskCulture board member and past president Reggie Newkirk said cultural activity mirrors the population of any place.
“It’s how we perceive and express ourselves, it’s how we are perceived by others,” he said.
He highlighted the difference that culture makes to the social and economic activities in communities.
“What would it be like to live here or anywhere without culture,” he asked. “It would be grey, dull, unexciting, uninspiring. I think we would be functioning like automatons … but culture breathes life.”
Newkirk noted one in 43 people in Saskatchewan are employed in the cultural sector. Annually, provincial residents will spend about $38 million on books and $94 million on other cultural activities. There are 29,000 arts and culture volunteers in the province and they contribute about two million volunteer hours.
“The economic impact is something that we can easily measure but we at SaskCulture hope you will think about the things that can’t be measured,” he said. “The impact on the quality of life in your community, the joy we feel when singing and when we dance, when we see our children sing and dance, when we see a photograph or a painting or a work of art that moves us, that touches us, that stirs the spirit within us.”
A number of Culture Days activities took place at the AGSC. There was a coffeehouse evening Sept. 27 for the Salon exhibition, which is an annual invitational survey of recent work by professional artists from southwest Saskatchewan.
The West Wing Gallery at Kinetic Park was also open for the weekend, where the Southwest Open exhibition displayed the artworks of semi-professional and amateur artists from the region.
“The art gallery has got this great situation in that we get to work with a lot of arts and heritage organizations throughout our community,” AGSC Director and Curator Kim Houghtaling said.
“It’s really kind of an ecology of arts and heritage life. I think as a community we function really well in the arts and heritage services in this community really are of great quality and add to the life that we have here.”
Icasiana de Gala, the Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre’s executive director, said cultural activities are more accessible for many newcomers in Swift Current compared to their countries of origin, where arts and culture are usually only enjoyed by highly-educated and wealthy people.
“So it’s a great opportunity for newcomers to participate or to witness all this,” she mentioned. “And having newcomers here from different countries from diverse cultures is enriching the art and culture of Swift Current and the southwest.”
Popular Swift Current band, the Midnight Roses, performed during the Culture Days launch event. Band members Myshel Pajuaar and Eliza Doyle spoke about what culture means for them.
Pajuaar, who is from Ontario, said her musical involvement with the Lyric Theatre has made an important difference to keep her in Swift Current. Doyle graduated from high school in Swift Current, but stayed in Saskatoon for many years.
“I think it’s actually been an asset for our band to be based in Swift Current where we have a lot of support and a lot of opportunities for growth,” she said. “So this little community has got more than a lot of the bigger centres going on and everywhere I go I’m now a Swift Current advocate.”
Culture Days were celebrated at the Lyric Theatre with a youth talent night and the Newcomer Welcome Centre hosted a puppet show at the theatre. There were crafts and traditional storytelling at the Swift Current Library, the Swift Current Museum presented an exhibit on the Cold War and hosted a Mount Pleasant cemetery tour.
The season’s final Market Square and the 7th annual Ranchman’s Ridin’ and Recitin’ at Swift Current’s Kinetic Exhibition Park were also part of Culture Day activities in the city.

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