#HappyMaking Pianos Return to Streets of Guelph this September


Downtown Guelph – Once again, downtown streets will come alive with the sound of music when the #happymaking pianos are rolled out on September 4th.  


Until the end of September, twelve pianos will be scattered throughout the downtown core outside of the following businesses and organizations:  Grey Rock Clothing Co., Thomas Video, Budds, Shakti, TD Canada Trust, Wyndham Art Supplies, River Run Centre, Guelph Community Health Centre and the main branch of the Guelph Public Library. Flour Barrel will have a piano inside the store for shoppers to enjoy.  Guelph Transit will host two pianos, one at Platform #12 and the other in the transit shelter near the fountain in St. George’s Square.

The brain child of Ian Findlay, the #happymaking project started with a simple idea in July 2013. Findlay, owner of Thomas Video on Baker Street, placed a piano on the sidewalk outside of his business and encouraged passersby not only to play the instrument, but also to decorate it with markers. The response was so positive that Findlay decided to partner with the Downtown Guelph Business Association and the Guelph Arts Council to place eight pianos around downtown for the month of September.

Speaking about the project to the Guelph Mercury in September of last year, Findlay said, “It's been an overwhelming success. I think part of its charm is just the simplicity of it. It's just simply putting something that you don't normally see outside on the sidewalks, out to play."

The pianos will be available and free-of-charge for anyone to play every day starting September 4th, although they will be locked and covered overnight. On September 30th, the pianos will be rolled away for seasonal storage at the Sleeman Centre. 

More information about the #happymaking project can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5b2kX3uE9oM

Play. Tweet. Share. #happymaking

Culture Days is Almost Here!


There is still plenty of time to register your Culture Days activity. There is no fee to register. If you have a free participatory or interactive arts or cultural activity to offer to the public during the Culture Days weekend, click here to register it today. If you’re not sure about what’s involved in registering, download the Participation Guide. You can also contact Ontario Culture Days with any questions you may have.

This year’s Culture Days weekend will take place on September 26, 27 and 28, 2014. Once again, the event will feature thousands of free, hands-on, interactive activities that invite the public to participate “behind the scenes”. For more information on presenting an activity or to find activities in your area please visit www.culturedays.ca.

The Culture Days website has a wealth of free tips and tools, including customizable downloadable marketing resources such as the Culture Days logo, posters, postcards, web banners, video bumpers, e-flyers, and more.


Guelph Jazz Festival Readying to Entertain, Inspire and Challenge Audiences

Sun Ra Arkestra, photo by Bud Fulginiti

Guelph Jazz Festival, one of Guelph’s Fab5, returns this fall to bring us five soulful days of innovative, world-class music. The Festival has been at the forefront of scholarly thought on jazz for the past 20 years, exploring the realm of “out” jazz across the globe. The festival features a main stage concert series showcasing critically acclaimed Canadian and international artists, free and Pay What you Can concerts at Market Square and around town, as well as an internationally renowned educational colloquium.

We spoke with David Lander, the Festival’s Metcalf Performing Arts Intern, about what we can look forward to this fall.

Guelph Arts Council What's your role at the Guelph Jazz Festival? What sorts of things have you been doing to prepare for this year’s event?

David Lander I am the Metcalf Performing Arts Intern. It’s a paid internship that Julie Dawn Smith, Executive Director of the Guelph Jazz Festival, and myself applied for together. The Metcalf Foundation does some great things – check them out at http://www.metcalffoundation.com.

D.L. My job is basically to help Julie Dawn Smith with the overwhelming tasks of putting the festival on. This year I have orchestrated the Jazz Around Town component of the festival and will be site managing the free open-air concert happening on Saturday, September 6th from noon to 1 a.m. on Carden Street. I also update the website, I’ve been to Toronto several times to help organize performances that were collaborations/partnerships with the Fort York Heritage Society – lots of stuff!

GAC What can we expect for this year’s line up? Are local musicians performing as well as national and international artists?

D.L. This year’s program features some of the best local artists – Adrian Raso Trio, GUH, Banjo Mechanics (Lewis Melville and Ian Pattison), national artists - Afrodizz (Quebec), Lee Pui Ming (Toronto), Pugs and Crows (BC), international artists – Randy Weston’s African Rhythm’s Trio (NYC), Vijay Iyer (NYC), Mola Sylla (Senegal) and even some not of this planet – Sun Ra Arkestra (Saturn).

GAC What unique qualities - besides featuring musicians from other planets - does the Guelph Jazz Festival bring?

D.L. The Guelph Jazz Festival is a critically acclaimed international festival known for presenting innovative jazz and creative improvised music in a community setting. We present the colloquium, one of the few events in North America to combine a scholarly colloquium with a music festival. Co-presented with the Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice research project (ICASP), the colloquium offers a stimulating mix of panels and keynote addresses by top scholars along with eclectic workshops and concerts featuring Festival artists. For more information on the colloquium, head to guelphjazzfestival.com/2014/colloquium

GAC On the Guelph Jazz Festival website, founding and current Artistic Director, Ajay Heble, refers to the Festival as “a must-go ‘out jazz’ destination for musicians and audiences from around the world.” Can you clarify what Heble is referring to by the term “out jazz”?

D.L. "Out" Jazz is basically just jazz that isn't 'traditional' jazz – more experimental, more improvisational, more unique forms... not big band jazz like Duke Ellington or smooth jazz like Wynton Marsallis but more like Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman and Milfred Graves. Check out them online. You'll see the difference!

The 21st annual Guelph Jazz Festival runs from September 3 until September 7, 2014. Tickets are available for purchase in person, over the phone, or online from the River Run Centre Box Office. Tickets may also be purchased at the door of the concert venue pending availability. See you there!

By Noelle Lalonde

Sue Richards – Social Entrepreneur, Artistic Visionary, Community Builder

This month, Guelph lost one of its leading artistic visionaries, Sue Richards.

Sue was an unbridled spirit who moved to Guelph in 1981 to attend University. Not long after arriving, Sue fell head-over-heels (well, over-Birkenstocks would be more accurate) in love with our city. She saw what amazing talent this city possessed and began working with others in the community to establish initiatives that have, and continue to, enrich the lives of Guelph residents. Throughout her time in Guelph, Sue helped lay the foundation for the Hillside Festival, established the community art project Art Jam, launched the Breasts of Canada calendar, and founded Blog Guelph.

“Sue Richards had a remarkable impact on our city as a community builder and arts advocate,” explains long-time friend and coworker James Gordon. “I met her 30 years ago at an early organizing meeting for the Hillside Festival. She arrived on a motorcycle and made a real movie-star entrance and we stayed connected from then on. “

Richards and Gordon were key in the development of the Hillside Festival, an event that has become an integral part the genetic makeup of Guelph. When the Festival began in 1984, admission was by donation and the program was a single sheet of folded photocopied paper that read ‘11 hour music celebration for all ages Noon-11’.

Sue Richards, photo by James Gordon

“When I was the first Artistic Director at Hillside, she was the organizing brains, the business manager who really got things going, and she later became Artistic Director herself for a short time,” explains Gordon. “She imbued that Festival with her own vibrancy, enthusiasm and sense of community engagement – and I don’t think Hillside would be the exciting successful celebration it is today without her valuable early nurturing.” Sue served as the Artistic Director of Hillside from 1990-1992 and continued to remain involved in the Festival in the years to come.

Towards the end of the nineties, Sue set her sights on establishing a community art space in a redundant elementary school in Guelph. The Artist in Community National Pilot Project awarded Richards one of eight grants available in the country to help establish her community art initiative: Art Jam. With additional help of corporate and community partners, she turned the former Torrance Public School on Waterloo Avenue, currently used as a Montessori school, into the headquarters for Art Jam.

Sally Wismer, former Executive Director of Guelph Arts Council, worked closely with Sue on the project. “When I think of Sue Richards, I think of Hillside Festival, Breast of Canada calendar, Blog Guelph, among her many involvements, but, for me, what really embodied her creative spirit more than anything else was the Art Jam community arts project that she initiated in 1998. With the support of Guelph Arts Council and the Laidlaw Foundation and others, Sue and her artistic colleagues were able to offer a series of workshops that opened up the artistic process to individuals and groups who had no training or background in the arts.”

Art Jam was created to be a safe, positive, fun and criticism free environment for individual creative play and learning. The organization offered a variety of workshops for people of all ages and interests to let loose and allow for spontaneous artistic expression. “These workshops were events in themselves, offering participants a “fun” experience and helping to raise the profile of the arts in Guelph,” explained Sally. “Guelph is certainly the richer for Sue Richards’ inspired contributions.”

Sue’s efforts to establish an innovative Community Arts Education and Creative Centre in Guelph did not go unrecognized. That same year, Sue received the YMCA-YWCA 5th Women of Distinction Arts and Culture Award and later served as the Honorary Chair of the Women of Distinction Awards in 2003.

Richards went on to launch Breast of Canada in 2002, a black and white calendar containing stunning images of Canadian women with breast cancer in support of breast health and breast cancer prevention. “Her annual ‘Breast of Canada’ calendar, an artistic and creative fundraising endeavor for Breast Cancer research, brought her national acclaim, which she always handled with humility,” notes James. Her photographic successes with the calendars led Sue to the creation of Blog Guelph in 2006, a blog that chronicles life in the city and showcases local photographers.

In late 2007, Richards announced she would not be publishing the 2008 edition of Breasts of Canada due to personal health reasons. It wasn’t until early 2008 that Sue publicly announced she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

After discovering she was ineligible for social benefits, Sue campaigned tirelessly with members of the community to help assist her in her time of need. She probed alternative treatments and advertised a spare bedroom online in exchange for help with chores. Sue passed away at the age of 56 on Saturday, August 2, 2014 alongside family and friends.

“She touched so many [lives] in this community with her creativity and her courage – two qualities that shone brightly in her life and loomed large in her death as well. She leaves a large hole in the fabric of our community, but a lasting legacy that we will all remember fondly for,” shares James.

Lynn Broughton adds, “Sue Richards was, and will remain, the Empress of concept and vision in Guelph. She always reminded us to see Guelph at its best. And true to her intrepid spirit, she became her own Community Art Project in recent years. Her own Art Jam."

By Noelle Lalonde

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