I was invited by my friend J to attend “Pop!Talks & Weird Canada present Weird Gathering @ the Khyber Centre for the Arts.” Marie Claire Flanagan and Aaron Levin from the wonderful Canadian music blog Weird Canada chaired the meeting. The talk addressed issues facing artists and people working in the arts in Halifax and Nova Scotia. I think it was partly held out of concern with the phenomenon of emigrating artists. It seems that after reaching a certain stage (or feeling of frustration) artists tend to leave Halifax.
Artists like Jon McKiel and Rich Aucoin talked positively and negatively about the scene. A positive: an accessible community compared to other cities. A negative: the lack of funded spaces for artists to work. My favorite part about the talk was seeing people over the age of twenty-five that work in the arts! As a student that hopes to one day work in an artsy domain, it was enlightening to listen to and see people with experience in the field. They spoke eloquently about their experience working in the Nova Scotian arts scene with such places as the viewpoint gallery, Music Nova Scotia and the Arts Network for Children and Youth.
The most disheartening part about the talk, of course, was discussion of funding. Cousins band member Aaron Mangle spoke about the financial difficulties his band has experienced. This is just depressing considering that Cousins is one of the most active, productive and well-known bands coming out of Halifax right now. On a happier note, I enjoyed witnessing Marie Claire Flanagan’s approach to the talk. The vibe felt very welcoming which said to me that she is aware that the arts community can be an exclusive-feeling environment. She wants to engage youth, women, and more diverse groups in the arts. It was an inspiration for me to see a female leader in the Canadian music scene, which, unfortunately, can be quite intimidating for the ladies. A really awesome initiative that was mentioned is Rebel Girl Rock Camp – A summer camp organized by the women from Old and Weird that teaches young girls to play music and write their own songs.