Wood Buffalo Artist Creates Wildfire-Inspired Painting for Online Auction

In the wake of the Fort McMurray wildfires Sharon Heading, a long-time Fort McMurray resident and artist, is using her art to heal and provide financial support for her community. Heading has created a piece inspired by Calgary firefighter Sara Durocher’s photograph of a rainbow in the midst of a smoldering forest that has been widely shared on social media over the past several weeks. In partnership with Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB), the charcoal and gouache (a type of watercolour) painting will be auctioned off online, with all proceeds going to help local artists rebuild.

Heading was immediately inspired by the original photograph: “I was amazed that in the middle of the heat and wet (she was dodging a stream of water) she took the time to snap a photo with her phone.” Heading said that throughout the tragedy that has befallen Fort McMurray, she has been “focusing on tiny perfect moments. A way to remind myself that it is important to take joy where we can and not be overwhelmed by life and what it can throw our way. This seemed like one of those moments.”

ACWB Executive Director, Constance Scarlett says she’s excited to support this project. “We have been absolutely humbled by the out pouring of support from the arts community across Canada asking to help Wood Buffalo artists. When Sharon, an evacuee herself, approached us with this auction we immediately wanted to make it a reality.” For Scarlett, providing support for the region’s artists is an important part of the rebuilding process; “we know that the arts will be crucial in rebuilding a balanced community in Fort McMurray with a remarkable quality of life. In order to be a part of that rebuilding process, our artists will need certain resources themselves.”

Born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Heading has called the west home for the last 16 years. Art education came later in life when she took courses at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and the Visual and Performing Arts Program at Keyano College. Heading finds the process as rewarding as the finished work. Her art has been evolving over the years as she experimented with various mediums and styles. Water and nature have been a dominant theme but there was no consistent focus until a recent experiment with “poured” paint resulted in a new body of work. Heading likes to work large with bold lines and dynamic colour, and says that “inspiration is everywhere, staying focused is always the challenge.”

For Heading, the piece she has created for the auction is a departure from her usual work which normally involves poured paint. “Even if I had access to my studio or any studio, paint just would not work for this piece. I choose gouache and charcoal because that is exactly what the picture was: primal, water and fire. It didn’t ever occur to me to use anything else. The thought that something beautiful could be made from charcoal (the aftermath of fire) appealed to me.”

The auction will be hosted by ACWB on their Facebook page starting at 9:00 am MST on Monday, June 13. Bidders are asked to submit their bid in the comments section of the painting’s photo. For those who do not have Facebook but still wish to bid, please email communications@artscouncilwb.ca. The auction will close at 11:59 pm MST on Friday, June 17. The winner will be contacted by June 20. All proceeds will go to helping local artists who have lost supplies, artwork, and instruments as a result of the wildfire. Arts Council Wood Buffalo will announce how the funds are to be distributed in July. Visit the ACWB Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ArtsCouncilWB.


Muscle & Heart – Fort McMurray Fire Stories

Everyone from Fort McMurray and area has a story to tell about the Fort McMurray Fire. It’s been wonderful to see friends to exchange stories with, but why not use our stories to help others? Your story may be sad, funny, about someone brave, or generous, the kindness of strangers and family, the silly thing(s) you packed, or humour from your evacuee experiences.
Submit your story for “Muscle & Heart- Fort McMurray Fire Stories”, to be included in a book. All proceeds to be donated to residents who lost their homes.
Please email to: Dee Bentley, (35 year resident and author/editor), who will compile the stories and make the book available on Amazon.
Submit stories up to 1,500 words, to: Dee Bentley at mrs.d.bentley@gmail.com Make sure to include the basics: who, what, where, when, and how.
Graphic Art or photo contribution is also needed for the cover and back of the book. Please send your idea.

Former YMM artists work hard to support Fort McMurray through the wildfire

Seto Pottery – Calgary, Alberta

Melba Seto is a multi-disciplinary artist who called Fort McMurray home for 5 years. She just permanently relocated to Calgary a couple months ago. Seto, who was very active in the theatre and visual arts community in Fort McMurray, is using her new studio space to support evacuees and the rebuilding effort in her former home.

13138851_1247931951884471_1496571546032837712_n Photo credit: Okotos Western Wheel, 5/4/16

50% of Seto Pottery sales in May will go towards the victims of the Fort McMurray fire. To purchase Seto Pottery go to Paint It Up Pottery Studio in Okotoks, Alberta.

” From my hands to your home, thank you” – Seto 司徒

seto pottery 2 seto pottery 1 Photo credit: Seto Pottery Instagram

“Support the Fort” – Prince Albert, Saskatchewan

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Roxanne Dicke spent many years in Fort McMurray teaching and directing in the former Keyano College Visual and Performing Arts program. Even after moving to Prince Albert, she continued to work with the Fort McMurray arts community as the director of of the Keyano Theatre Company Drama Force program, a summer arts intensive camp for youth. Dicke most recently collaborated with Fort McMurray theatre artists as director of Keyano Theatre Company’s final show of the 4 Play Drama Series 2015-16 season, Run For Your Wife, which closed on April 30, 2016, just days before the evacuation.

Dicke, now the Prince Albert Arts Board chair, and the Prince Albert arts community, several of whom also have ties to Fort McMurray, have organized “Support the Fort”, an event to raise funds for the Fort McMurray United Way to help address important social needs like housing, food assistance, trauma and mental health supports, and much more. Musical acts from Prince Albert and area will provide the entertainment, and there will also be a silent auction, thanks to the generosity of Prince Albert residents and businesses.

13245426_10153495282861087_1005454883601756538_n Handmade cedar arbor with swing donated as a silent auction item for the event (Facebook – Support the Fort)

13256522_10156858074200024_7420353990566019951_n Just some of the many silent auction items donated for the event (Facebook – Laura Hopper)

“Support the Fort” plays at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre for the Arts in Prince Albert on May 18, starting at 7:30 pm. Visit the event page here.

Status of Arts Infrastructure in Fort McMurray

Despite the devastating impact the wildfire has had in Fort McMurray, at this point the majority of arts facilities in the city are still standing including: Keyano Theatre & Arts Centre, the Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts, Campbell’s Music, Points North Gallery, and River Station Arts. A full evaluation of these spaces will be conducted once the evacuation order has been lifted and information on changes to programming will be shared once they become available.

Our arts community did suffer two major losses: the McMurray Métis 1935 offices and the Port of Entry Building which housed the Boreal Artist Institute offices were both destroyed in the fire. Gail Gallupe, President of the McMurray Métis stated, “We are all processing the devastation caused by the fire – processing the loss of our homes, the loss of our building, the dispersion of our community – but I believe in the resilience and ability of our Métis community.” McMurray Métis has set up a temporary office at the MNA provincial office at #100-11738 Kingsway Avenue in Edmonton. Members can also contact 1-866-839-6312 to speak to a staff person.

While these losses represent a blow to our arts community, Arts Council Wood Buffalo is confident that we will find a way to move forward through the creative collaborations which define us as an arts sector and as a community.

YMM arts community still strong after wildfire

On behalf of the Wood Buffalo arts community, ACWB sends a huge thank you to the artists and arts organizations across Alberta and Canada for reaching out to support us during this time. Your offers of performance opportunities, equipment, discounts on attending arts events, etc. are incredibly generous and we are all so grateful. We hope to host you in our region in the near future!

“Nerdvana the Series” and “Rig Pigs” are two Fort McMurray web series that campaigned for funding from STORYHIVE during the last two weeks of April. Both projects featured local writers, directors, and casts and focused on stories unique to Fort McMurray. STORYHIVE is a community-powered funding program for emerging content creators in BC and Alberta, supported by TELUS. On May 4, the day after Fort McMurray was put under a mandatory evacuation order due to the massive wildfire burning out of control around the city, the creators of both web series learned that they had received STORYHIVE funding to complete their work. “Nerdvana the Series” and “Rig Pigs”, along with 28 other projects now have access to production funding, training, mentorship, and distribution on TELUS Optik TV on Demand. Congratulations to our YMM artists on recieving recognition for their projects and ACWB will continue to support them in whatever way we can once we return to Fort McMurray. Keep up to date with “Nerdvana the Series” and “Rig Pigs” on Facebook.

rig pigs      nerdvana the series

A Little Cabaret is a locally-made documentary about the impact of theatre on the Fort McMurray community. Producers Steph Link (Stage Manager for Keyano Theatre) and Tito Guillen (Hyperphotonic Media, Fort McMurray Filmmakers Association) followed Keyano Theatre Company through the auditions, rehearsals, and performances of the musical Cabaret during the 2014-15 season. The documentary follows the volunteer cast/crew and the professional artistic team over several months and showcases one of the very creative sides of Fort McMurray. A Little Cabaret was honoured as a nominee at the 2016 Alberta Film & Television Awards (The Rosies) in the Best Documentary (Over 30 Minutes) category. Although the documentary didn’t win, attendees at the awards on May 7 in Calgary shared their admiration and support of the Fort McMurray community. A Little Cabaret is now available to rent online through Vimeo and all proceeds with go to the Red Cross Fort McMurray Fire Fund.

a little cabaret

Fort McMurray was all set to host the Alberta Drama Festival Association (ADFA) Provincial One Act Play Festival on May 27-28 at Keyano Theatre & Arts Centre. The ADFA North Zone Regional One Act Play Festival, which showcased four locally crafted plays, happened on May 2. Unfortunately the wildfire situation suddenly grew out of control and the next day the entire city was put on a mandatory evacuation order. Hanna Fridhed, the ADFA North Zone representative, made the decision soon after that Fort McMurray would not be able to host the provincial festival. Grande Prairie generously took over and will host the best one act plays from around Alberta on May 27-28. The winner of Outstanding Production at the North Zone regional festival, “Check Please”, will still represent Fort McMurray at provincials. Break a leg!

check please adfa      adfa regional poster

Dave Martin, a local musician, is finding support in the Edmonton arts community. Martin will be a volunteer co-host on the “It Takes A Village” program on CJSR 88.5 FM on Tuesdays at 1 pm. Martin will join host Rhea March as she showcases music, information and mentorship to emerging musicians. Fort McMurray musicians are invited to drop off their original music (CDs, digital tracks) at the CJSR office in Room 0-09, Students’ Union Building at the University of Alberta between 10 am and 3 pm for Martin to play on the show. Martin is also part of a special performance of Fort McMurray musicians on May 13 at the CKUA Radio Network performance space on Jasper Avenue in Edmonton. Martin, Shantelle Davidson, Dan Tulk, and Stu Marchand will perform songs from their latest releases and share stories of their experiences. The show begins at 6 pm, more information here.

songwriters may 13

Leave your Wallets at Home; Art Paid with Heart at the Wood Buffalo Timeraiser

FuseSocial is thrilled to announce that the fifth annual independent Timeraiser presented by Suncor and Shell will be happening once again during National Volunteer Week April 10 to 16.

Timeraiser is a volunteer matching fair for the social profit sector, a silent art auction, and a night out on the town. The big twist is rather than bid money on artwork, participants bid volunteer hours. The Opening Reception will be at MacDonald Island Community Art Gallery presented by Kirschner Family Corporation on Thursday April 14, 2016 at 6:30 PM. This year, 48 pieces of art have been purchased from local artists for the event, which means that approximately $18,000 has gone into supporting the Wood Buffalo Art Community. We anticipate that the combined art pieces will generate close 3,700 volunteer hours similar to last year’s event.

“We are pleased to host the fifth annual Wood Buffalo Timeraiser during National Volunteer Week,” said Katie Loutitt, Champion of Change at FuseSocial. Timeraiser is a unique way to increase volunteer capacity within our community while supporting local artists. In the past, the Wood Buffalo Timeraiser has been more generous, per capita, in volunteer hours compared to larger cities such as Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. It is a testament to our community spirit.”

The evening will also include an opportunity for volunteers to engage with 20 social profit organizations and the silent auction. Appetizers will be served and beverages will be available. Tickets are on sale and are $15 each. For full event information and tickets visit fusesocial.ca.

For more information:

Katie Loutitt, Champion of Change

T 780-791-9333



Make it Public! Workshop and the Mural Mentorship Program

Make it Public! workshop

Saturday, April 16

Redpoll Centre

9:30 am – 4:00 pm

Fee: $25 (Arts Council Wood Buffalo Members) or $35 (non-members)

Register here: https://makeitpublic.eventbrite.ca

Each year, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo issues a Call to Artists as part of the Public Art Wood Buffalo Program and various other artist programs.  These calls extend an invitation for professional artists to submit a proposal for an upcoming project, based on detailed project parameters.


Past Public Art opportunities included the Graffiti Abatement Mural Projects, igNIGHT – Art Illuminated, and the MacDonald Drive Project.


The RMWB aims to encourage local representation in Public Art programs, and to draw upon the vast pool of artistic talent within our region.


To do this, Arts Council Wood Buffalo has partnered with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Public Art Wood Buffalo to create the “Make it Public!” workshop.  This is a one-day workshop designed to teach local artists the necessary skills to create competitive and compelling applications for upcoming Artist Calls and Requests for Proposals.  The skills learned through the workshop will be transferable and will give regional artists an advantage when applying for Artist Calls:  not just locally, but nationally.


Attendees of the “Make it Public!” workshop will be eligible to apply for the Mural Mentorship program, which is coming summer 2016.


The Mural Mentorship Project is a capacity-building program, exclusively for local artists.  An artist within the region will work with the selected artist for the Graffiti Abatement Mural Project, gaining valuable practical experience and mentoring.  This will be a paid opportunity and will allow emerging artists to gain practical, hands-on experience with a municipal project.  Mural Mentorship Project details will be available during the “Make it Public!” workshop.

Make It Public Web Banner


ACTOR CALL – Safe Community Wood Buffalo’s annual PARTY Program

Call for Volunteer Actors
Safe Community Wood Buffalo presents: P.A.R.T.Y Program

Event Information
This is a full day presentation to all local grade 9 students to Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth. Volunteer actors are required for the morning portion only.

The performance consists of a MOCK motor vehicle collision in the parking lot of the Royal Canadian Legion, where 2 vehicles have been crushed and placed together by a loader as though a collision has already taken place.

Performances are Monday April 11th, Tuesday April 12th, Wednesday April 13th, Thursday April 14th, Monday April 18th, Tuesday April 19th, and Wednesday April 20th.

Goals and Objectives
1. To educate youth to recognize risks.
2. To increase youth awareness of personal responsibility for their choices.
3. To increase youth knowledge of the consequences of injury on quality of life for the individual, family, friends and community.
4. To empower youth to make informed, educated choices.
5. To promote injury prevention initiatives.
6. To contribute to a reduction in the incidence of risk-related trauma in youth.

Role Descriptions
Please look closely over the role descriptions as some of these positions require the performer to simulate extreme realistically emotional situations.
The Impaired Driver: Strong verbal acting abilities
Strong Improvisational abilities
Impaired Driver’s Passenger: Strong verbal acting abilities
Strong Improvisational abilities
Second Vehicle Driver: Strong verbal acting abilities
Strong Improvisational abilities
Strong abilities to play intense emotions
Parent(s) of Victim: Strong verbal acting abilities
Strong Improvisational abilities
Strong abilities to play intense emotions
Must be over 25 years old
2 Deceased Victims: Strong abilities to remain motionless for extended periods of time Must be comfortable with EMS workers simulating resuscitation
Must be comfortable being put on a stretcher with a blanket covering their entire body (including face)
Time Requirements
All volunteers are required to attend an Orientation on Tuesday April 5th from 7-8:30 pm at The Redpoll Centre Conference room at Shell Place; light refreshments will be provided. Each volunteer will be trained by a professional EMS worker prior to the performance.
Volunteers may choose to participate in 1-7 of the following performance dates:
Monday April 11th, Tuesday April 12th, Wednesday April 13th, Thursday April 14th
Monday April 18th, Tuesday April 19th, Wednesday April 20th
Call time for each performance is 8am; all volunteers must provide their own transportation to and from The Royal Canadian Legion. Volunteers must provide their own costume (old clothing that you do not mind getting dirty), makeup and hair will be done professionally onsite. Volunteers will be required no later than noon the day of performance.
How to Register

SCWB Volunteer Registration Form

For more information, or to register as a volunteer please contact Melanie Murrin at IMPACT@scwb.ca or visit the Safe Community Wood Buffalo website at http://www.safecommunitywb.ca/


Fort McMurray, AB, to host both Regional and Provincial Festivals in May 2016

Fort McMurray, Alberta: For the first time in eight years, Fort McMurray is hosting both the Regional and the Provincial ADFA Adult One Act Play Festival! These festivals will be held at the Keyano Theatre Recital stage on May 2 and May 27 & 28, respectively.

The Alberta Drama Festival Association (ADFA) is a non-profit umbrella organization for adult amateur drama activity in the province of Alberta. Ten different regions of the province each organize a Regional One Act Play Festival where local theatre artists are given the opportunity to showcase their work. From these festivals, one production is chosen by an adjudicator to represent each region at the Provincial One Act Play Festival.

The Adult One Act Play Festivals provide local amateur theatre artists with an opportunity to showcase their work and for the region’s vibrant arts community to explore new ideas. This year the ADFA North Zone organizing committee is proud to partner with Keyano Theatre Company as well as Arts Council Wood Buffalo to ensure all participants and audience members experience the full magnitude of how incredible our local arts community is. Any member of the Wood Buffalo community is welcome to submit, no experience is necessary. The ADFA North Zone will be accepting submissions until March 31.

Long term participant and prominent local theatre artist Michelle Thorne says: “Participating in the annual ADFA Adult One Act Festivals have generated some of the most joyous and memorable of all my theatre experiences. Getting to partake in the incredible sense of community and witness emerging theatre artists perform their passion projects from across the Province is an amazing opportunity!” Dave Boutilier, Theatre Director for the Arts Council Wood Buffalo, says that these festivals “really gives the local theatre community a stage to shine on at the provincial level.”

The ADFA North Zone is thrilled to announce theatre legend Scott Swan will be adjudicating the 2016 Provincial festival. Scott has been a theatre director and teacher for over thirty years, winning numerous awards for his work. Scott will also be offering one of his much sought-after acting workshops to the participants of the festival.

For more information on the ADFA festivals and organization please visit www.adfa.ca.
To submit a play visit www.adfa.ca/about/registration-and-forms. For more information please contact the ADFA North Zone representative Hanna Fridhed at hanna.fridhed@adfa.ca.

Women Band Together In Support of International Women’s Day

Carla White presents a party night that celebrates and connects women

Professional speaker and author, Carla White, will celebrate International Women’s Day by bringing together a group of local women for a fun night out that includes wine, relaxing and entertainment. In Carla’s words, “My mission is to inspire and empower others to live their best life by tapping into their strengths, believing in their extraordinary potential and letting go of limiting thoughts and feelings”. She brings out the event as Showing Up for Happiness 101 as a hint of what to expect for the evening.

On Tuesday March 8, wine and snacks will be served at the Wood Buffalo Regional Library from 6:00-8:30pm. In an inviting, social, atmosphere, women will arrive to mingle and connect for International Women’s Day. In her own words, Showing Up Radio Talk Show Host, White, says “I am energized when I hang out with positive, upbeat people who want to grow, learn, and have a ton of fun’. The event seeks to empower women in a way that recognizes their achievements while encouraging collective collaborations.

Wood Buffalo Regional Library, Arts Council Wood Buffalo and Girls Inc are proud sponsors of the celebration on International Women’s Day. Showing Up for Happiness 101 attendees will receive a signed copy of the Amazon Best Selling book, Success University for Women.

With the event led by a theme of success and happiness, this turnout by women for women will be a positive nod towards women encouraging each other, supporting each other, and inspiring each other. Tuesday, March 8, an evening that is created to awaken and re-energize women – it will be a networking event for women while sharing laughs and insights with Carla White.

Carla wears many hats that range from speaker, author, radio talk show host and entertainer. She helps people transform and re-energize their lives. In her seminars, live events, and retreats, she guides individuals to explore their thoughts, beliefs, and their potential. Her breakthrough programs help many individuals and groups get clear with their vision as they overcome any roadblocks to success and happiness.

Attendees are able to purchase advanced tickets only at www.eventbrite.ca. To know more about Carla White, check out her website at www.Carla-White.ca.

international womens day - showing up for happiness