Art, action, environment

Christine Hennebury
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Co-ordinator of the first Arts and Environment Festival wants to inspire environmentalism

When you think of environmental action, artistic expression may not be the first thing that springs to mind, but Krista Koch, co-ordinator of pARTicipACTION in your ENVIRONMENT, St. Johns first arts and environment festival is hoping to change that.

The festival, which begins Sunday and runs to July 7 at various locations in the city, brings together a variety of local arts and environmental groups who have had a long-term interest in working together, and allows them to raise awareness and encourage activism while people are having fun.

As Koch says, We chose the format of a festival because it is a great way to engage people and offer something for everyone through programming a variety of different events. A festival is also a celebration and we want to provide a positive message that people can respond creatively to environmental issues.

One of the featured events during the festival is a green art panel discussion about the ways that art and environmentalism intersect. The discussion will be hosted by Jennifer Morgan, a visual artist who is also the associate director for the Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. Morgan believes strongly in the connection between art and the environment in this province.

As an artist I am concerned about the solvents that I use, and their disposal. And since I have been at the Protected Areas Association I have been particularly aware of how the natural environment inspires artists in this province. Anne Meredith Barry, Gerry Squires and even Christopher Pratt have been inspired by the natural environment, and a lot of younger artists respond to nature in more unconventional ways. There is a sense that nature is close by. It is a central part of our definition of ourselves.

Aside from the green art panel, the festival is offering a huge variety of activities ranging from eco-art classes at the Anna Templeton Centre, to a self-guided artwalk in downtown St. Johns to Fridgeworks, an exhibition of childrens art on fridge doors in local businesses downtown.

The festival will close with the Live Earth concert July 7, presented in partnership with OZ-FM. The evening will include bands, environmental speakers and the 3-Rs Runway earth friendly fashion show.

Combining a fashion show with a concert was an unexpected bonus for Koch and the other organizers. We were planning to end with our earth-friendly fashion show, when OZ-FM approached us with their idea for doing a local Live Earth concert and it fell on the same day and seemed like a perfect fit. Its an encouraging sign that businesses are approaching environmental groups with their own creative initiatives.

Making positive environmental change can seem like a big project, but it all starts with small individual actions. Koch is hoping the festival will help people to realize that they can make a difference.

Our goal is to inspire people to act in their day to day life and to respond playfully and with imagination to issues that can often feel overwhelming. Were also hoping the festival will provide impetus for ongoing dialogue and partnerships between diverse sectors within the community because environmental issues affect us all.

The pARTicipACTION in your ENVIRONMENT festival is presented in partnership with the NL Environmental Network, the Anna Templeton Centre, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, Eastern Edge Gallery, Clay Studio, the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador and St. Michaels Printshop. Funding for the festival was provided by the Adult Learning Knowledge Centre/Apprentissage chez les adultes.

Organizations: Anna Templeton Centre, OZ-FM, Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Areas Association NL Environmental Network Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador Adult Learning Knowledge Centre/Apprentissage

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