Artists aim to inspire

The first annual Creatively United for the Planet Festival April 20-22.

Creatively United for the Planet fashion show team coordinator Leona Fowler, dancer Tan-nauz Rahimpour and DJ Rowan strike a pose. Check out the festival running April 20-22 at 600 Richmond Rd.

Creatively United for the Planet fashion show team coordinator Leona Fowler, dancer Tan-nauz Rahimpour and DJ Rowan strike a pose. Check out the festival running April 20-22 at 600 Richmond Rd.

Artists have long been supporters of social causes, inspiring and promoting change in the world. Now artists in Victoria are coming together to change the way we think about our environment in the first annual Creatively United for the Planet Festival, a free all-ages event running April 20-22 that will benefit 15 local charities.

Professional photographer Frances Litman is the force behind what she calls her “passion project.”

“I’ve had this idea brewing around in my head for the last three years,” says Litman. “As a photographer, I’ve seen the world through telephoto, close-up and macro lenses, and I see the close-up details and the big picture. You really start to connect the dots when you see the world through all those lenses.”

She decided to start an annual festival to inspire people to take a stand on environmental issues facing our communities, and have a darn good time while they’re at it.

“I thought a lot of people haven’t made the connection that this is something that affects us all and future generations to come,” says Litman. “And maybe they think the issue is too big or they’re too busy or they don’t know what the issues are. I just want to make it easy and enjoyable for people and connect them to the people already out there doing the work.”

The event kicks off Friday with a free, outdoor, all-ages Disco Meets Mardi Gras DJ Dance Party featuring Masala, Candu Music and DJ Grandpa Phunk. Costumes and lanterns are encouraged.

Following the 31st-annual Earth Walk on Saturday, April 21 (11:30 am from the legislature to Centennial Square), take in the sights and sounds of the festival featuring guest artists, speakers, creative children’s events, displays, live music and fresh food options (1 to 7 p.m.).

The first of three ticketed events also happens Saturday where you can catch a keynote address by singer-songwriter Ann Mortifee and world-renowned flutist Paul Horn, along with a multi-media presentation by photographer Garth Lenz (International League of Conservation Photographers), music by Holly Arntzen and Kevin Wright and The Gettin’ Higher Choir ($35 at

The second event is a fashion show featuring designs by local designers Linda Ferguson, Nikki Babie, Not Just Pretty Modern Clothing/Victoria Green Collective, VSHoEN, Muse Clothing, Kazen Hair & Beauty, EiraShay and Vic High fashion students, Hemp & Co. A dance party with DJ Rowan and funk/soul/rnb band the Soul Shakers is included ($30).

The festival grounds are open again from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, April 22 with more free entertainment, creative events and displays. Check out the Art School Victoria open house and annual student charity art auction (free) in the hall.

At 3 p.m., catch a keynote address by artist Robert Bateman, followed by a John Lennon tribute concert with esteemed musicians Daniel Lapp, Mae Moore, Anne Schaefer, Colleen Lee Eccelston, Jean Paul Maurice, Lola Parks, Justin Hewitt, Geoff Lundstrom, Gareth Hurwood, James Kasper, Geoff Howe, Roland Barrett, Caroline Spence, Jeremy Walsh, backed by Mike Demers on guitars and vocals, Chris Van Sickle on keyboard, Ian McElroy on bass and Murray Creed on drums ($30).

All events take place at St. Matthias Church grounds (600 Richmond Road).

“It’s easy to preach to the converted, but how do you reach the people who haven’t connected the dots yet in terms of the importance of our environment?” asks Litman.

“And not to sound like a screaming tree hugger, but I am a screaming tree hugger, because if someone’s not screaming then we’re going to just have concrete and look like every other city and the world as we know it on the Islands be so different in years to come. I don’t have children, but it scares me what future generations are going to be dealing with and the legacy we’re leaving isn’t too great. We’ve won half the battle if we can get people to tune in to the issues, but of course we want to raise money for these charities.”

Net proceeds will be divided evenly between these charities: Ancient Forest Alliance, Bears Matter Ltd, Pacific Wild, The Child and Nature Alliance of Canada, The Dogwood Initiative, The Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, Habitat for Humanity Victoria, The Land Trust Alliance British Columbia, Oases, Raven Trust, Sierra Club BC, The Land Conservancy, The Trust for Sustainable Forestry, The Peace Valley Environment Association, Wild ARC Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre, The Wilderness Committee, Youth for Environmental Stewardship.

For a complete schedule of events and for more information, visit M