Kaleido and local students create art Arts festival and schools make a perfect partnership

Something edgy is coming to 118 Avenue as rumours circulate of an “exquisite corpse.” Is a zombie invasion imminent?

Despite its hair-raising name, exquisite corpse is art at this year’s Kaleido Family Arts Festival. Local schools are spearheading this event, said Christy Morin, executive director of Arts On The Ave.

This year, seven schools are participating in the festival, the highest number to date.

“The beauty this year is that although we’ve always involved schools, the actual schools in our community are now becoming Arts Core schools,” she said. According to Edmonton Public Schools, Arts Core programming incorporates “visual and performing arts into everyday learning. Students explore their creativity and self-expression through art, music, dance and drama.” Students’ artwork will be featured during Kaleido at The Studio (11739 94 Street.)

Not to be outdone by his students, Brad Burns, Highlands School principal (and artist) will complete a live performance painting at Kaleido. The artwork will then be auctioned.

Then there’s the contribution festival performers make to the schools. This year, American singer and songwriter Steve Seskin and Spruce Avenue School will create a song they will perform on Sept. 11.

“Seskin’s skill in bringing audience into his story is unbelievable,” Morin said. During a performance at The Carrot, the Grammy-nominated songwriter “spoke about his stories and involvement in schools, and I knew we had to bring him to the festival.”

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Children dance along with Spandy Andy during Kaleido Festival 2015. Credit: EPIC Photography

While Spruce Avenue School students are strumming and singing, students at St. Alphonsus Catholic School will be tumbling and soaring, thanks to the Kalabanté acrobats from Quebec and Guinea.

National and international artists keen to perform and showcase their art speaks to the festival’s reach and popularity. New York jazz musician Jacques Schwarz-Bart is footing his travel costs to Edmonton because he wants to perform at Kaleido. “We’re beginning to become known as leaders in community arts festivals,” Morin said.

This year, Kaleido celebrates its 11th anniversary. “It is a milestone and for us it has been a good year for reflecting and asking: ‘who are we and what are we?’ ” said Morin.

“We know our roots are in the community, in the arts district, in building neighbours, community pride and in teaching. These are all really important pillars.” Equally important: “there is no door to this festival, no lock—it is accessible to everyone.”

But with ups come downs. In the spring, the festival experienced a shortfall of $40,000 in federal funding. “The bottom line is we need financial support to make Kaleido continue because it is a vibrant ritual and tradition in our community.”

A fundraising campaign was launched in July. Visit kaleidofest.ca to donate.

“Arts for everyone” is truly what Kaleido is all about. “Creating together and playing together are things Kaleido wants to continue, and we want to dig deeper to find ways to express ourselves and to discover how we fit together.”

Header Image: Festivalgoers greet fairy book characters during last year’s Kaleido Festival. Credit: EPIC Photography

Raymond Gariepy

Raymond is a writer and artist living in Edmonton. He was the managing editor of a newspaper and a magazine published by the Alberta Teachers' Association.

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