Festivals are rooted in the social and cultural life of the community they are hosted. Arguably Canada’s love for festivals goes back thousands of years when Canada’s Indigenous groups regularly held ceremonies such as the famous Potlach, pow-wow, Sundance and others. Today these ceremonies and celebrations are enjoying a renaissance after years of government bans and discrimination.
The beauty of art festivals is that they are usually fun, free and outside, both literally and metaphorically, by engaging audiences on a number of levels, intellectually and physically, sometimes even getting them to actually create the piece of art itself! They have the potential to entertain, delight and shock audiences the world over. In this article we will try to get the bottom of just what all the buzz is about!
So when did the art festival begin and what is all the fuss about?
The Venice Biennale
The Venice Biennale dates back to 1895, when the first International Art Exhibition was organized in part to establish a new market for contemporary art. Today alongside the Central Pavilion there are 30 national permanent pavilions each owned by the ministry of culture of that country and 29 other pavilions as well as art displayed in other venues across Venice. The Festival attracts over 500,000 visitors every year and remains one of the most famous, prestigious and exciting art festivals in the world.
What about in Canada?
Found as far away as Newfoundland, Expo ’67’s remnants continue to exude some of the weird, wondrous magic of that Summer of Love in Montreal, when anything and everything seemed possible. The art and architectural legacy of Montreal’s 1967 International and Universal Exhibition litter Canada’s landscape like the ruins of a fantastical future to which we somehow, somewhere lost the thread.
What about more recent festivals, like the craziness that happens in Montreal and Toronto?
From dusk until the early pre-dawn hours on September 30, 2006, Toronto buzzed with excitement as Nuit Blanche was first unleashed on an unsuspecting city. Torontonians left behind the comfort of their beds en masse, as 425,000 people ventured out onto the city’s streets for an all-night exploration and celebration of contemporary art.
As remarkable and distinctive as the art was, the magic came from the audience response and interaction. Most importantly, through this event a new audience was introduced to contemporary art by making it fun, engaging and accessible.
Most recently in 2016, over one million people are estimated to have attended this festival, which showcased the talents of more than 300 local, national and international artist and curators.
What about other places in the world, do they have art festivals too?
The Largest in the World:
In Japan, the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial is the world’s largest outdoor art festival, bringing together more than 300 international artists in a natural setting. Held once every three years, artworks are found scattered across rice fields, empty houses and closed schools.
The Most Graffiteed:
Paradox Tauranga Street Art Festival in New Zealand brings street art into a gallery setting while also turning the city into an outdoor gallery, featuring internationally acclaimed street artists like Banksy.
Why bother attending a live festival when so much cool art is just a click away?
Because nothing beats a real-life, first-hand experience. Interacting with a painting, sculpture, or installation provides a deeper appreciation that can’t be replicated through a computer screen. It is the up-close and personal interaction with both the artwork and its viewers which elicit emotion, reaction, debate, and a sense of belonging to your own cultural community.
Want to know more about LUNA: Nocturnal Art and Wonder?
Get ready! Featuring 25 projects, Luna is set to make Revelstoke part of the Art Festival community around the globe. On September 30 at 6 p.m., Revelstoke will be transformed into an artistic playground for a series of exhilarating, contemporary art experiences in unexpected spaces. In its first year, Revelstoke will host 25 art projects, ranging from sculpture, to performance, music, interactive installations, and mixed media.