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CB Nuit, Corner Brook’s after-dark arts festival, going digital

Corner Brook artist Jane Reagh will be drawing portraits live through Zoom during this year’s CB Nuit festival this weekend.
Corner Brook artist Jane Reagh will be drawing portraits live through Zoom during this year’s CB Nuit festival this weekend. - Contributed

Jane Reagh has painted portraits live on West Street in Corner Brook during the CB Nuit Festival for the past two years. Not wanting to repeat the same thing, Reagh hadn’t planned to participate this year.

But when it was announced that CB Nuit, Corner Brook’s after-dark arts festival, was going online, Reagh got to thinking.

“That’s kind of a new take on it, an interesting kind of twist,” she says.

So, she started doing electronic portraits of her family, using the drawing feature in the Notes app, and thought it would be fun if she could do it with a wider audience through Zoom. She tested it with her daughter and the result was the proposal, from the point of view or the viewer, that she sent to CB Nuit.

She’s now pretty excited to take part in this weekend’s festival.

“Usually I’m talking to the person I’m painting, but everyone else is just standing around waiting and kind of bored out of their minds.”

With Zoom the experience will be different.

“Because everybody who’s on the Zoom meeting, and there can be a lot more people, will actually hear me talking to the person and see me going through the process. It will be, in a certain way, more interactive. Like instead of the technology dividing me from the visitors to CB Nuit, in a way it will connect us even better.”

And she chose Zoom as the platform because she wanted an interactive nature of people coming, some being drawn, some watching, people leaving and more people coming.

“Much more like the street. I like the idea of it being a virtual street.”

Going online with the festival also means she’ll be able to broaden her audience base. People from anywhere in the world will be able to take in the festival.

CB Nuit creative director Louise Gauthier said organizers realized pretty early in the COVID-19 pandemic there would be no way to have the festival on the street this year.

“So, we started to think about it right from that point, and thought, how can we create something online that is going to remind people about our experience on the street.”

The result is the creation of a virtual West Street by digital artists Drew Pardy and Aidan Devereaux. When people go to the CB Nuit website for the festival, which starts Friday, a pop up that looks like West Street will appear.

“An animated world of West Street with lamp posts, and streets, and buildings and the artists.”

Sticking with a bubble theme, each artist and participating community group will have a bubble on the street that people can click on to take them to each of the projects, where they’ll get the schedule for the sessions and workshops, which will take place through Zoom and Facebook Live, and the links for them.

In addition to the digital component there will be a few live events, with limited audiences, at the Rotary Arts Centre and the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre.

As in past years, there will also be a community project titled “All of Us Everywhere,” where people will be invited to create some kind of wearable art. Participants can send a photograph of them wearing their art to CB Nuit, and 50 people will be able to book a photoshoot with photographer Tom Cochrane, who will photograph them in their driveways from a social distance. All the photos will be assembled together.

CB Nuit is also working in collaboration with Atlantic Alliance to create a shared project with all the art-at-night festivals in the Atlantic provinces. This project will be shown at all the festivals.

Among the CB Nuit live events will be the Canadian premiere of St. John’s artist Rozalind MacPhail’s newest audio-visual creation, “Don’t Let Me Fall Too Far,” at the Rotary Arts Centre on Saturday at 8 p.m.

The project grew out of one MacPhail had worked on as a flutist and backup singer with New Brunswick filmmaker Raven Blue originally called “Homeless.”

MacPhail had wanted to take the project all over the world, but the other artists were busy. Blue suggested she create a version of it for herself as a soloist and use the film to take it worldwide.

The world premiere of “Don’t Let Me Fall Too Far,” took place in Sweden last September, and the U.S. premiere was in North Carolina in November.

And then came the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That was it, every opportunity that I had was cancelled.”

With her career at a standstill, MacPhail had to try to find ways to reinvent herself.

With CB Nuit going digital, she saw the opportunity to finally perform the Canadian premiere of the project.

“It’s almost serendipitous,” said MacPhail, who had been too busy in previous years to take part.

“I can’t say what the future looks like, but I can definitely say at least I’ve been given some hope through being able to perform at a digital arts festival. It’s one of the first major opportunities I’ve had this year, and who knows when the next opportunity will be for me to perform this program again.”

MacPhail will also present an artist talk, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway," live streamed from the Rotary Arts Centre on Sunday, a whole new exploration in her career of ways she can give back to the community.

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