Whoever came up with the name ‘community room’ for the large space at the People’s Place Library certainly knew what they were doing. The room has hosted many important and creative meetings involving organized groups and community members at large, and did so again June 6 when members of Antigonish Culture Alive’s (ACA) Antigonight: Art after Dark Festival team joined with community members for an Art for Change brainstorm session.
“It followed along what we’re going for with Antigonight this year, around the transformative power of art,” festival director Emma MacDonald said.
MacDonald noted this year’s festival “supports projects that address social, environmental, and political issues through creative methods.”
“And with the festival, our goal really is about community involvement,” she said. “Being able to provide support for people who might have an idea, but aren’t sure how to go about making their ideas a reality. I think we work really hard to be there for people and help them.”
St. F.X. student Adelaide Strickland, working with the festival this year as a research intern, talked more about supporting ideas.
“The goal of this was to get folks in the community who already had ideas or were concerned about issues, together in the same space to collaborate and work together,” Strickland said about the session. “To make those potential, theoretical projects actually happen.”
Strickland said the evening event “went well.”
“The people who came were really engaged; excited to talk to other people, hear what they were thinking of doing and willing to jump in to collaborate,” she said, noting it was somewhat tough to facilitate because there were so many good ideas and thoughts coming from those in attendance.
“There were so many ideas in the room; that, kind of, took over and went in its own direction, which was neat. Climate change was a big one, and gender diversity and pride was also a big one given that it’s Pride Month.”
“We talked about the [Pride] flag rising in Antigonish, which was historical for this town,” MacDonald added, following Strickland’s point. “And a lot about the [proposed] mining in Sherbrooke, that came up a lot with people wanting to do some kind of project around that.”
MacDonald talked about a wide cross-section as far as people attending the session, which she termed “exciting.”
“People who want to effect change and are firm believers that art is very powerful and can work towards doing that,” she said.
Strickland noted the group included “young people” which she found encouraging.
“And a lot of people at the beginning, when we were doing our little introductions, were saying ‘oh, I’m not an artist … I don’t know if I can call myself an artist,’ but I feel like everyone was demonstrating, in some way, they’re engaged in the arts even if they don’t, necessarily, recognize that,” she said.
“I think we’re tapping into some creativity in this community; there are a lot of people who don’t think they’re creative, but we’re finding it,” MacDonald added.
For those who were not able to attend but do have an idea or a thought on the festival they would like to share, MacDonald and Strickland encouraged them to stop by the library and ask for members of the Antigonight team, or go on ACA’s social media sites and correspond through that method.