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Wednesday, 05 October 2011 15:26

Culture Days a smash hit in Swift Current

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By Jessi Gowan — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

With activities and events taking place throughout the community, Swift Current’s Culture Days offered an entire weekend full of free fun and excitement.


Participants had the opportunity to explore a wide range of interests from culinary to visual arts.

“These activities showcase our communities and tell their stories,” explained Rose Gilks, general manager with SaskCulture. “That’s what makes a community unique.”

As a representative of one of the main organizers of Culture Days, Gilks spent the weekend taking in all that Swift Current’s celebration had to offer.

SaskCulture board members and staff were sent out to communities throughout the province to get a first-hand impression of what Culture Days is like across Saskatchewan.

“We wanted to go out and help each community realize that SaskCulture is here to support them in their events, and see what we can do in the future to help make it better for everyone,” she said. “Overall, I was very impressed with what the community has done here in Swift Current. It bodes well for the cultural life of the community.”

She noted the local organizing committee in Swift Current did a fantastic job of planning the events and setting up the weekend, but admitted it may have been too much for a community this size.

“When you look at some events happening concurrently, how can enough people attend each event to make it a success?” said Gilks. “There were definitely some events I would have liked to have seen more people at, but I know that it’s a challenge to get people out to something new. I paced myself, knowing that I couldn’t attend every event, and there are definitely things that I feel like I missed out on.”

Gilks especially regrets missing an artist tour with Twyla Exner, who explores some intriguing concepts through fascinating sculptures created from e-waste materials.

The artist offered a number of tours throughout the weekend, including a Coffeehouse evening and Artist Talk on the Friday.

“We had a large turnout for the tours, and we had a very interested crowd at the talk on Friday night,” explained Kim Houghtaling, director and curator at Art Gallery of Swift Current. “Over the course of the weekend, we saw a really great response.”

Gwen Uher, president of the Southwest Cultural Development Group, was also pleased with the audience response.

The Lyric Theatre hosted a number of events throughout the weekend, including a virtual tour of the unfinished theatre.

“I was so impressed; it was just fantastic,” she said. “We had a great crowd for our tea tour, where we had the official unveiling of our virtual tour. That seemed to go over very well, and gave everybody an idea of what the theatre used to be like, and allowed them to dream as far as what it could be.”

Rocktoberfest was another successful event at the Lyric, with four bands putting on an incredible show to an appreciative audience. Uher noted all of the musicians put in a lot of effort to make sure their playing was top-notch, and said the atmosphere of the event was especially fun.

One of the biggest surprises of the weekend for Gilks was Culture Games in the Park, which featured cultural activities for the entire family.

With dance demonstrations, singing, face painting, and storytelling, it went far beyond Gilks’ expectations.

“There were all kinds of people there, participating and dancing right along with the people on stage,” she said. “Because it was diverse cultures showcasing their unique art forms, it made for a really nice mix of the different communities found within Swift Current.”

Houghtaling added the entire event was an all around success, especially considering this is the first year Swift Current has participated in Culture Days. He noted the commitment from so many organizations and individuals was remarkable.

“We were really pleased by the magnitude of the response,” he said. “To be recognized provincially and nationally by Culture Days as to what an outstanding example we are is a great accomplishment.”

Organizer Shann Gowan, with Cultural Festivals, was also thrilled at the level of support the event saw from the community.

“I saw people out at the Culture Days events that I hadn’t ever seen at cultural events within the community before,” she explained. “That was really a big part of our goal — bringing new audiences to experience our events and see what Swift Current has to offer.”

Gowan added next year’s event will definitely offer improvements.

A huge benefit to participating in Culture Days is increasing a community’s awareness of the cultural venues and activities which take place within that community. Hopefully, an expended knowledge of the opportunities available will lead to increased audience sizes.

“It’s a free chance for people to try their hand at something, or look at an institution or organization that maybe they haven’t before,” Houghtaling added. “The open-house attitude makes people feel more comfortable coming and taking part in something that they might not be familiar with.”

He noted having so many different organizations and volunteers working together for the weekend helps to identify the culture sector and services within the community, even for those who are already involved. This was especially true for Uher, who is always scouting for new talent to perform at the Lyric Theatre.

“What I particularly enjoyed about the weekend was being able to see the different cultures in the community sharing their talents,” she explained. “I managed to find a couple of groups that I think would fit in very well at future events. There were also a number of young kids performing, and I would love to encourage them to come out and participate in our youth open stage.”

In addition to attracting new audiences, an event like Culture Days focuses the attention of those who could provide funding to the various organizations involved, as well.

“Politicians and folks in government can see how important culture is to the vitality of community, and can use that knowledge to help things like the Lyric Theatre get support for their future renovations,” Gilks explained.

“We want people to recognize that cultural activity is important to society, for future generations, and we need to respect and appreciate it.”

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There was a lot of entertainment during Culture Days in Swift Current last weekend.


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