Downtown area comes alive with music and art

A jazz trio at the Scotiabank, an improv comedy group at the Salvation Army, and an accordion player in front of Mel’s Tea Room are not sights one expects to see in Sackville on an ordinary Friday afternoon. Last Friday was not ordinary.

On September 27, artists of all kinds lined the streets and occupied local businesses as part of the fourth annual Culture Days event. The activities were coordinated by Commerce professor Rosemary Polegato and her students in the Arts and Culture Marketing course. 

Culture Days is a national movement intended to celebrate Canada’s flourishing artistic communities. In Sackville, the student-led event works to unite the town and the university communities through cultural engagement. During Culture Days activities, the downtown core comes alive as students bring their music and artwork to the public in an interactive way. 

Ten Sackville businesses participated in Culture Days, transforming their spaces into expected and unconventional venues for student artists. Because the artists used establishments as their platforms, community members experienced local talent without changing their daily routines.

“Culture Days is all about giving accessibility to the arts—to everyone, to all Canadians,” explains Polegato. “There is a formal definition for Culture Days: to increase awareness, engagement, accessibility and participation of all Canadians in the cultural lives of the community. And that just seems like a fantastic thing for Mount Allison students to be involved in.”

Business owners are also enthusiastic about their involvement in the annual event. Fog Forest Gallery owner Janet Crawford has participated in Culture Days in Sackville since its inception in 2010. She looks forward to the activities each year.

“I love it! It is something I want to be associated with because I think it is absolutely essential that we spend as much time as possible getting the word out there,” said Crawford. “There is no way to better do that in a community than actually having people right there, in your face—in the bank, in the post office, in the grocery store, in the streets.”

Students from all artistic disciplines, including drama, music, fine arts, and English participated in the Culture Days activities. 

Second year Fine Arts student Corrine Mayber set up a makeshift art exhibition in Mel’s Tea Room to showcase one of her linocut prints. Mayber said she was thrilled to be part of Culture Days for the second time.

“It is a really great way for people in the community to get out and see what other people have been up to,” she said. “I think I’m going to come back and do this every year if I can.”

This year’s Culture Days theme was “Culture Me Happy,” a play on the phrase ‘colour me happy.’ It was intended to reflect the diversity of both the artistic community and the people in Sackville. The theme was developed by students in the Arts and Culture Marketing course.

Businesses involved in Culture Days 2013 included Canada Post, Fog Forest Gallery, Jean Coutu, Joey’s Pizza & Pasta, Mel’s Tea Room, Royal Bank, Salvation Army Thrift Store, Save Easy, Scotiabank, and Tidewater Books.

Approximately eighty Culture Days events were celebrated all across Canada between September 27, 28, and 29.

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