With Elaine Ethier and my friend Mario Fortin of Cinema NDG, the group that will revitalize the Empress
In the words of Paul Cargnello, NDG Arts Week is an important event « because NDG deserves such a festival. » Judging from the quality of the performances that were on display throughout the week, and the record crowds that showed up for each of them, it’s obvious that he is absolutely right!
First, what struck me most about this year’s event was the diversity of the entire program. It all started with music one « Samedi in the park », but the next day it was theatre for the kids, then the next one was a movie, followed by a documentary, and visual arts on the sidewalks of Sherbrooke street the next samedi. Everyone could find something they liked in that program…or in my case, many things I liked!
The kid’s show in the park has become an annual tradition for my family, and this year’s Hansel and Gretel did not disappoint. I find it important that NDG Arts Week reaches people of all ages, and the children often get their first taste of a live performance with this theatre in the park. Young families bring their blankets and their food to share a picnic in the park, showing yet another positive aspect of NDG Arts Week: community-building.
Good times with friends and supporters in the park before Hansel and Gretel
One very important moment of this year’s festival was the projection of a movie in the park by Cinema NDG, the group that will re-open the Empress theatre after 23 years (in 2015) of inactivity and decay. Not only will they give a second life to this magnificent heritage building, but their movie theatre will become a major attraction that will revitalize the entire stretch of Sherbrooke street west. Moreover, this major institution will become the anchor around which we can consolidate the « cultural neighbourhood » of NDG. I will get back to this issue in a future article.
Finally, I was impressed by the originality of the works being displayed during Art Walk, particularly those of Julian Cargnello and Claire Carny. You may have seen Julian’s work already: he is the artist responsible for making (some or all?) the public pianos of Montreal look appealing. Most of these artists live and work in the area around Sherbrooke and de Maisonneuve, and we have to make sure that they can stay in the neighbourhood for a long time.
According to a study conducted by Hill Strategies, NDG can count on an important artistic community (3% of our residents are artists, compared to 1,5% for Montreal) and an even higher number of « cultural workers » (around 12% compared to 6,4% for Montreal).
What NDG Arts Week does, more than anything else, is to demonstrate the vitality of our artistic community, and the importance of culture in NDG. Long live NDG Arts Week because it is true that we deserve it!