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Since 1979 • October 2021 • Circulation 5000

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Sebastian Barrera: “Art should be accessible and free to people.”

Sebastian Barrera. George Ellis

Sebastian Barrera is an artist and community activist living and working in the downtown core of Edmonton. Sebastian is a director with the Heart of the City Festival Society and the founder of CreArt Edmonton, an organization that utilizes the arts for social transformation.

I asked Sebastian how he got involved with Heart of the City. “At the beginning, I didn’t know what would be my role, how I would fit, how my skills fit. Little by little, I started identifying that there was overlap between the work that I was doing with Heart of the City and my work with CreArt. Then, the Youth Stage was an idea and I brought it to the table. We decided that the Youth Stage should be run and supported by Heart of the City and CreArt, but it should be run by youth.”

Sebastian said, “CreArt started a couple of years ago. When I was a new immigrant and I didn’t speak English at all, I was playing guitar everywhere. A dude from the community league said, ‘why don’t you do classes at the community hall?’ and I started doing free guitar lessons there. I saw the opportunity to grow the project to something more ambitious: a mentorship program that encourages people who have been mentored to start mentoring others. It’s the pay-it-forward concept.”

He continues, “Art should be accessible and free to people. If people want to express themselves, we need to provide the venue for people to express whatever they want to express in the way they want to express it, and provide the right spaces for people to do that. This is what CreArt is about: free programming and, of course, collaboration between different members of the community. We want to foster spaces where we can promote what artists are doing in the scene.”

CreArt Edmonton is working to produce 340 hours of programming this year. As well as hosting free music lessons every week, CreArt is working on six projects. The projects are The CreArt Round Table (a discussion of art and mentorship with local artists), Heart of the City’s Youth Stage, The Mural Project down the Kinnard Ravine (in which they will renovate 50% of the murals in the ravine), The Immigrant Artist Community Dialogue (in which they will tell the stories of several immigrant artists), and an African Film Festival which will be held late in the year 2021.

If you want to be involved with any of these projects, take lessons, or if you want to donate to CreArt, check out their website: www.creartedmonton.com

Corine Demas serves as volunteer President and Spoken Word Director of the Heart of the City Festival Society of Edmonton. Corine is passionate about poetry, storytelling, and her city, Edmonton. She lives in McCauley.

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