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March 11, 2016

ArtStarts Showcase and Conference 2016

ArtStarts Showcase and Conference 2016

The ArtStarts Showcase and Conference 2016 was a inspiring couple of days—thanks to talented performing artists and passionate arts champions.

Taking place at the Orpheum Annex in Vancouver on February 29 and March 1, 2016, this year's event welcomed delegates from across BC and beyond—representing 38 school districts from across BC and 16 community arts organizations.

Delegates were treated to 30 showcase performances from a range of artistic disciplines and cultural backgrounds:

  • DANCE | Ballet Kelowna | Little Pear Garden Dance Company | Luv2Groove Dance Education
  • MUSIC | CréaSon | Devon Wells | Infinitus | Kiérah | Kimchi Haggis | RupLoops | Tiller's Folly | The Jellyfish Project | Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble | Will Stroet and his Backyard Band
  • STORYTELLING | Anne Glover | Dia Davina | Kung Jaadee
  • THEATRE | Axis Theatre Company | Canadiana Musical Theatre Company | DuffleBag Theatre | Green Thumb Theatre | Morton the Magician | Story Theatre Company
  • INTERDISCIPLINARY | Axé Capoeira | D.O Gibson | Dianna David | Isabelle Kirouac and Nayana Fielkov | Kellie Haines | Masabo | Vazzy in New France | ZarYevka Ballet

Student audiences joined us from several local schools, to give a sense of how the performances would be received in schools. The feedback we received from the students was glowing! Many of the students were in on the action, as they were pulled up on stage to be part of the show. In some cases, the artists had worked with the classrooms earlier in the week, and they were able to show off their musical and dance skills for the whole audience.

The Contact Room was another opportunity to connect with these and many other artists who are part of the Artists on Tour Directory. These artists all have performances specially designed for young audiences, available to tour to schools and communities starting September 2016.

It was wonderful to see artists and delegates meeting and mingling at the receptions held in the Contact Room each day. Many connections were made, and meaningful conversations were shared with refreshments in hand and smiles on faces.

Delegates who filled in the Contact Room Passport were entered to win fabulous prize packs from some of our Showcase Sponsors and $800 ArtStarts Dollars to bring an artist into their schools.

Delegates had the chance to connect with other arts champions from their regions over lunches in the ArtStarts Gallery and Resource Centre.

The theme of the ArtStarts Showcase and Conference 2016 was Are You Curious? Curious minds are full of questions. Full of ideas. Full of passion. The arts have a special ability to awaken our curiosity, take us to places we never imagined, and ignite a lifelong desire to learn more. At this year's event, we invited you to join us to wonder, speculate, learn and imagine the many possibilities that could start with a simple question... Are you curious?

Keynote speaker Dr. Paula Rosehart addressed this theme in her presentation, Provocations that Evoke Creativity, Curiosity and Wonder-filled Learning. We all know that children are curious by nature, and learn through play and exploration. But how can we continue to nurture inquisitiveness as we grow up? Paula explored how we can all cultivate creative and curious thinking and embrace emergent learning as opportunities for metacognitive reflection, inquiry-based learning and responsive education.

Her presentation included a hands-on activity for delegates, who fully embraced this opportunity to get creative themselves. It so rewarding to work with these arts champions who not only advocate for the importance of arts and creativity for the young people in their communities, but also embrace the arts, creativity and curiosity into their own lives. One artist group commented to us that "so many of the delegates seemed like grown up Charlie at the Chocolate Factory—full of wonder and excitement!"

On the Monday evening, many delegates and artists attended a special dinner event. Entitled From Savoury to Sweet, his social evening was designed to pique both your curiosity and your palette. Bella Gelateria and Restaurant in Yaletown was our host, and they created a delicious three-course meal for us. The founder of Bella Gelateria, James Coleridge, has won numerous international awards including Most Creative Flavour at the 2014 Gelato World Tour in Italy and International Gelato Master of the Year in 2014 in Italy. James shared his personal story of how curiosity has been a driving force for his own life and career. He also invited us into the laborotorio to learn more about the gelato-making process.

In preparation for the evening, delegates has each submitted their answer to the question, "If curiosity were a flavour, what would it taste like?" The results were varied, but some ideas rose to the top, and James took it upon himself to actually create this special gelato for us—a mixture of chocolate, espresso, lemon and sea salt. Delicious! James hopes to launch include the ArtStarts Curiosity Gelato on the menu at Bella Gelateria, with partial proceeds donated back to ArtStarts! Stay tuned for news about when you can taste this gelato yourself!

2016 is a big year for ArtStarts, as we are celebrating our 20th anniversary! Founded in 1996, ArtStarts has grown over the past 20 years, but our mission and vision continue to be just as relevant today. Of course, in true ArtStarts style, we celebrated with cake—and cupcakes! We welcomed everyone on stage to sing Happy Birthday to ArtStarts, which was a lot of fun. Stay tuned for the many ways we will be celebrating ArtStarts 20th anniversary throughout the year!

As we look back on the past 20 years, we are also looking ahead to the next 20. We challenged delegates to share their thoughts about the future, asking questions such as "What role do you see the arts playing in education in the next 20 years?" and "What should students learn to succeed in an ambiguous and unknown future?"

We are grateful for all the support we received to make this year's event possible. Thanks to all the delegates who attended. Thanks the artists who performed on stage as well as those in the Contact Room. Thanks to the ArtStarts staff, board and volunteers for all their hard work and dedication. Thanks to our MCs and student audiences. Thanks to our Production Manager Tom Fijal—who has done an amazing job of producing this event for ArtStarts for 20 years!—and his fabulous backstage crew, the Orpheum Annex and the VSO School of Music.

Thanks to our funders, the British Columbia Arts Council and the Province of BC the Department of Canadian Heritage and Canada Council for the Arts.

Thanks to our Showcase Sponsors who generously supported this year's event.


We've posted lots of photos from the ArtStarts Showcase and Conference 2016 for you to enjoy. Be sure to check out our Facebook album!

We can't wait to see how delegates will put their experiences at Showcase into action to bring arts experiences to young people in their own communities.


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