We often say that rural Culture Days events require a grassroots effort to get off the ground, well what if an event becomes successful by staying on the front lawn?
Dauphin's Yardfringe turns community yards into venues for the arts. On the evening of Oct. 1, groups travel by bicycle from yard to yard and take in performances and participatory creative art activities that last between 20 and 30 minutes. Folks volunteer their yards and venues step up and outdoor spaces are transformed into venues for theatre, art, and music. Participants will take in performances by local musicians and artists and filmmakers, but they will also be asked to dip into their own artistic talents to fully experience Culture Days in Dauphin. Yardfringe in particular demands that you be active (remember bikes) and that you participate
In addition to Dauphin's Yardfringe on Saturday, Culture Days in Dauphin also includes a kick-off concert at the Dauphin Rail Museum on Friday, Sept. 30 at noon, and a Mini Filmfest on Sunday afternoon at the Countryfest Community Cinema. A variety of documentary films by Manitoba filmmakers will be screened.
Jean-Louis Guillas is one of the lead representatives for Dauphin's Yardfringe, and he says what makes Dauphin's Yardfringe special is that the idea is completely replicable – any group can take this idea and engage in their own community. He adds, "the uniqueness comes from who chooses to take part in any given year."
After organizing this event for all seven years of Culture Days, Guillas offers some good perspective for other rural activity organizers who are working with a low budget but want big results. He says they rely on the basics: using social media, partnering with local media, and leveraging the organizing committee to involve as many community organizations as possible — even the ones that don't see themselves as "art groups!"
"My advice is to celebrate the local. Don't worry if you think only 15 or 20 people will attend," says Guillas. "Focus on fun and the event will grow from year to year. In Dauphin, we have found public spaces to showcase Yardfringe creations after the event (drop paint triptych at our Watson Art Centre and block art at the Dauphin Public Library) and this keeps the idea of Culture Days in the mind of the community over the winter."
Culture Days Manitoba is important because it recognizes that we all have an artistic side—it is one of the fundamental facts of being human.
Open-mindedness in the community is key. Guillas says they don't advertise the content of the venues, which makes it more exciting day of.
"Yardfringe is truly grassroots in that it doesn’t happen unless local people open their yards, dig inside themselves to come up with a fun performance or activity, and agree to mount a bike to go on an adventure in their community." He adds, "The first thrill comes from riding en masse with about 100 other cyclists through the city streets. Families and hipsters are out having an adventure together."
Guillas let it slip that this year there may be a “life-size” adult colouring component at one of the Yardfringe venues, and also mentioned they are still recruiting performers for Yard Fringe.
"While we have many wonderfully talented 'professional' artists in our province who are more than worthy of our collective support and patronage, in my view, Culture Days is the opportunity to unleash the artistic in all of us."
Dauphin's Yardfringe was selected at random as the winner of the Culture Days Manitoba Summer Registration Promotion.
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