By Michelle Potter
I first joined the team at The New Art Festival in 2019. That first fest was such an incredible experience for me. It was such an honour to work behind the scenes for this big and beautiful event. And what a perfect weekend it was– gorgeous weather, happy artists, smiling friends.
Without knowing it at the time, we were going out with a bang – that festival was to be the last for three years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But now we are absolutely thrilled to say that The New Art Festival is back in person in the park! And we’re celebrating our 30th year! (The last two still count.)
Goodness, it’s been a dull and drab time, hasn’t it? It would be so easy to focus on all that, to focus on the years we’ve missed. It would be easy (and a little cathartic?) to complain and lament about the things we’ve lost. But with the world opening back up and with spring in full bloom, I’m going to focus on the positive and celebrate.
I’m going to celebrate our artists – the people who make this festival what it is. The people who paint, photograph, collage and show us the world on a canvas. The people who sew, mend, knit and give us the gift of warmth. The people who sculpt tiny worlds for us to visit and explore. The people who make the jewellery and accessories that allow us to express our individuality. The people who blow glass so delicately that you’re sure it could float away in the slightest breeze. The people who put their heart and soul into their work and in all that vulnerability, share it with all of us.
I’m going to focus on the applications I get the honour of receiving and reviewing. The emails that make it a pleasure to open my inbox every day. The ones that make me feel like I’m walking around in my own private art gallery – one that’s open just for me and allows visits in a robe and slippers.
I’m going to feed off the positive energy I get from our social media pages. The artists who excitedly share our event with their followers. The fans who tell us how much they’ve missed us.
I’m going to give thanks to our volunteers. To the dozens of people who work so hard and give so much of themselves and their time on festival weekend. Those who make sure the garbage cans don’t overflow. Those who make sure the roads and pathways are safe.
I’m going to thank our food vendors. The ones who fill our park with scrumptious smells. The ones who prep and cook nonstop all weekend, so that our bellies may be full and happy.
I’m going to focus on our sponsors. The small local businesses who have supported us for so long, who stood by us during this pause and who have so graciously offered to sponsor us again. I’m going to focus on the way an artist’s face lights up when they receive a sponsor’s award.
And I’m going to celebrate our park. Our beautiful Central Park. I moved to the neighbourhood about two years ago and walk by the park almost every day. I look over, and I can see it. I see the rows upon rows of tents. I see the trees and the creek and the sunshine. I hear the birds singing and the children laughing. I hear our beloved park calling our name, welcoming us back home.
There’s something special about this festival. Something magical. It is such an incredible display of talent, of community, of joy. We’ve missed it so much. And we’ve missed all of you. If there’s anything this time away has taught us, it’s that distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder. Please join us!
The New Art Festival is happening June 11 and 12, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Rain or shine, you’ll find us in Central Park in the Glebe.
We’ll have over 150 artists exhibiting their work. We’ll have local food vendors and entertainment. And we’ll have porta potties. So you and your friends and family can make a whole day of it. For more information, please visit our website or social media pages: thenewartfestival.ca; thenewartfestival on Facebook and Instagram.
See you in the park!
Michelle Potter is a local crafter, art lover, event planner and slipper enthusiast.