Youth Arts 150 brings some of Canada’s finest artists to work with local students

Centennial Secondary School Arts Department and Quinte Arts Council present Youth Arts 150 – a celebration of the arts featuring local students and professional musicians, artists, dancers and more, taking place November 8, 9 and 10. This three-day event includes talks, demonstrations, workshops and concerts, featuring some of Canada’s finest artists from different fields working in tandem with young artists. It features collaborative evening concerts with the Skydiggers, with special guests, the Cash Brothers, Woodshed Orchestra and Hawksley Workman. Guest afternoon presenters include Brian Barlow, Jeff Mann, Peter Paylor, Lisa Morris, Al Torrance, and Andrea Nann.

Chemistry, passion, energy and evolution are a few words that come to mind when Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson talk about 25 years together in Skydiggers. “It all started in the beverage room of the Spadina Hotel. That is essentially when the band came together,” says Josh. “Andy and I performed there as a duo as part of Andrew Cash’s Monday night series called Acoustic Meltdown. When Andrew released his debut album and could no longer host the night, we took it over. The sound developed at an impressive rate, thanks to the discipline and work ethic the weekly showcase placed on the band. They have opened for 54-40, The Tragically Hip, Cowboy Junkies and Blue Rodeo.

Singer and songwriter, broadcaster, performer, producer, poet, playwright and multi-instrumentalist, Hawksley Workman is an ambitious, ever-busy global ambassador of Canadian culture and creativity. A staple of the Canadian arts scene for over 17 years, Workman boasts a catalogue of 16 solo releases, showcasing his now signature spectrum of sonic influence, from cabaret to electro-pop to anthemic rock and plenty in between

As a producer, his fingerprints grace releases by JUNO and Polaris Prize nominees and winners like Tegan and Sara, Sarah Slean, Serena Ryder, Hey Rosetta! and Great Big Sea. He’s also penned melodies with a myriad of artists, from Oscar award-winning Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose, Inception) to French rock icon Johnny Hallyday. Hawksley’s touring career has seen him play nearly a thousand shows worldwide.

The Woodshed Orchestra mashes up classic dance styles from all over the world into a soulful celebration. Legendary Toronto drummer Dave Clark (Rheostatics, Dinner is Ruined, The WoodChoppers Association, Gord Downie and Charles Spearin) pilots a five-piece horn section, four-piece rhythm section and full-ensemble vocals through New Orleans funk, 2nd line and jazz, R&B, ska, soul, reggae, punk, rock ’n’ roll, blues, country, surf rock, neo-Greek, ranchero, polka, disco, samba, Afro-pop, waltz, new wave, Cajun, Tex-Mex, power pop, klezmer, torch ballads, tango and calypso, in an extraordinary celebration. This band is a funky, uplifting and joyful ride.

The festival is being planned and implemented by students at Centennial Secondary School (160 Palmer Road, Belleville), with assistance from CSS Arts Department and staff and members of the QAC. All three evening concerts will be held in the CSS auditorium.

In May, 2016, QAC attended a workshop with Grade 11 Arts students from Centennial Secondary School, as part of the I.C.E. (innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship) board of education program. Our challenge to the students was to identify what programs would be relevant to young artists and define methods of communicating what we are doing to reach this audience. Students presented their ideas to work with professional artists as teachers and mentors as part of a multi-disciplinary public arts festival. QAC then applied for funding from the Province of Ontario through its Ontario 150 Partnership Program, the Rotary Club of Belleville and the John M. and Bernice Parrott Foundation, and were successful in getting the funding required.

Open to the public and free of charge, the event will not only provide an invaluable experience for the youth participating, but also offer QAC and CSS an extraordinary event with which to celebrate our 50th anniversaries in 2017, as well as Canada’s 150th. Check out quinteartscouncil.org closer to the date for event schedules. The evening concerts: Nov. 8, 7 pm, Woodshed Orchestra; Nov. 9, 7 pm, Hawksley Workman; and Nov. 10, 7 pm, Skydiggers and Cash Brothers.