Bringing the art world together on the Saanich Peninsula

Sixth annual ArtSea Festival will include Fall Studio Tour and Sidney Fine Art Show.

From Oct. 16 to 25, the Saanich Peninsula will be the place to be, bustling with more than 400 artists from across Vancouver Island celebrating arts and culture.

The Festival will be commencing with the Sidney Fine Art Show from the 16th to the 18th with almost 400 art pieces on display and 242 artists filling the Bodine Hall at the Mary Winspear Centre. And it will be ending with the Fall Studio Tour on the 24th and 25th with 18 locations to choose from and tour the studios of various artists ranging in age from as young as 12 to 92 years old.

More than 40 businesses will also be participating during the Festival, hosting many local artists as they give various demonstrations and display their artwork. The artwork will range from weaving to painting to woodwork.

The event, run by the Community Arts Council of the Saanich Peninsula (CACSP), is said to be even bigger than last year with more artists on the list along with a few new elements.

“It’s an exciting year because we have added a few new elements to the ArtSea Festival, more so to make it more participatory, that’s kind of a direction we would like to move with it…” said CACSP Executive Director, Frankie Allen.

In making the Festival more participatory, organizers will be adding two paint and wine nights on the 17th and 24th in the evening with instruction from artist and art instructor, Odette Laroche. The first two-and-a-half-hour night will be at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre and the second at Brentwood Bay’s Empourium coffee shop. Tickets are $40 (wine is extra) with all art supplies included with the cost and a take-home canvas at the end. Tickets are available for purchase at the Artisans Gift Gallery.

The Festival is also working with Star Cinema, who will be doing a special benefit film for the Arts in the Schools Program. The film will be a documentary about music and will be a by-donation affair. Star Cinema is a new addition to this year’s festival and their fundraiser is for area schools.

The ArtSea Gala, which will take place on Oct. 21 at the Mary Winspear Centre (tickets $10), will have a new approach in that all of the performers will be from the Saanich Peninsula’s local school systems, with every penny going to the Arts in the Schools Program.

In the last two years, they have raised $10,000 for that program, for things such as hiring a local artist to come in and enrich the arts curriculum in local schools.

“It’s wonderful for local artists as well as for the students and helps support the school district and what they’re doing.”

This year, the Gala’s special guest is the Deep Cove Folk Society who had received a grant from the Arts Council years ago. Society musicians have been performing to sold out shows ever since. They recently donated $2,000 to the Arts Council’s Arts In The Schools Program, which Allen says will help the next generation of musicians.

“It was such a perfect fit with our Arts in The Schools because we’ve been working on funding more performance art in the schools. They’re going to be our special guest at the gala for that donation.”

Allen said the Peninsula and the Gulf Islands have the densest concentration of artists in Canada.

“I think when you live with something, you don’t realize how important it is, so getting out and actively celebrating how very fortunate we are with that I think is very important.”

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