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Heart of the City 2021 Festival Weekend Recap

Workshops shared writing, storytelling, and cultural knowledge.

Heart of the City 2021 Logo Attilo_FS

Heart of the City’s 2021 festival weekend has come and gone. It took place online on June 5th and 6th.

At The Beat Spoken Word Variety Show we laughed with comic Cindy Rivers who shared her hilarious life with us through comedy. We ached and dreamt with the poets who included Winnipeg Wallace, Meghan Ekar, Mikayla Bortscher, and K’alii Luuyaltkw. Each poet’s life and experiences were illuminated through their poetry. Thank you to our wonderful host and board member Stef Alzati for your mad emcee skills and thoughtful feedback.

We were also fed artistically by our workshop leaders Lady Vanessa Cardona, Stef Alzati, and Nisha Patel. Lady Vanessa walked us through an uplifting experience of oral storytelling. We were able to practice telling our stories and to connect with others in the community. In Stef Alzati’s labyrinth-themed poetry and meditation workshop we practiced meditation through “walking” through a hand labyrinth with our fingers and practicing meditation. We were also given lots of time to write and share poetry. Finally, in Nisha Patel’s workshop we did the work of editing a piece of poetry we had previously written under the guidance of the Poet Laureate of Edmonton! Nisha gave us very useful information on how to identify our audience and edit with them in mind.

In our first cultural sharing workshop of 2021, called `”Powwow 101,” we were hosted by Sissy Thiessen Kootenayoo online from her own home. Sissy gave us a tour of her Regalia case and showed us the amazing beadwork and seamstress work of artists in her community. Sissy showed us some footwork and explained the meaning of the dances she performs at Powwows. She filled us in on what to expect and how to prepare for a Powwow. Sissy often teaches this workshop for community organizations and those of you who missed out but really want to know about Powwow should consider hiring her to come to one of your community events to present. You can reach Sissy Thiessen Kootenayoo by visiting www.wasesabaexperiences.ca.

Finally, our Story Slam was our most successful event. We saw eight story tellers weave stories that ranged from cat fantasy, to Sci-Fi, to compelling personal stories. We had two winners: Twoey and Dr. Michael Marshall.

Seeking Community Feedback

Despite such compelling programming, we had very little online attendance in 2020 and 2021. We wonder why people didn’t take advantage of the free events we offered. It leads me, as the president of Heart of the City, to ask these questions:

  1. Are we not offering experiences that our community members want?
  2. Are our neighbours interested in supporting the arts?
  3. How can we better serve our neighbours in the future?

We would love to hear from you about what you want to see from Heart of the City in the future. Do you want artistic development workshops like our writing and oral storytelling workshops? Do you want more cultural sharing workshops?

Please email us at heartcityfest@gmail.com. You can also follow us on Twitter or our Facebook page and post your comments there! We’re @heartcityfest on both platforms.

CreArt Youth Stage Livestreams

This year we are featuring the CreArt Youth Stages live stream series! Check out the young hosts and musicians in performance and interviews every Saturday at 4 p.m. on CreArt Edmonton’s Facebook page.

Join Our Board

I want to thank the community of volunteers who have come forward to help us make this festival happen in Giovanni Caboto Park for all these years. If you love the arts and your neighbourhood and want to get more involved in community building, perhaps you will consider joining our volunteer organizing board. Our future depends on finding new board members who have an interest in learning about executing the production side of festivals. We need social media savvy board members and someone who can help with website maintenance.

If you don’t have experience, don’t worry – we work as a team! All we require is a commitment to attend board meetings and events, and passion for the arts and community building! Email us at heartcityfest@gmail.com to talk about the opportunity to join our volunteer working board.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram: heartcityfest. Check us out and like our "Facebook page":https://www.facebook.com/heartcityfest, also heartcityfest.

Corine is the President of Heart of the City. She lives in McCauley.

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