David Spiritwolf Bodaly, seen here teaching weaving at last year’s Isle of the Arts Festival, is returning to IOTA to lead a workshop called Indigenous Wildcrafting. (Photo courtesy William Pope)

Gabriola’s Isle of the Arts Festival goes ‘mini’ on 10th anniversary

Gabriola Arts Council presents scaled-down, workshop-only IOTA Mini festival

Gabriola Island’s Isle of the Arts Festival is happening after all, albeit on a smaller scale.

On July 17, the Gabriola Arts Council announced in a press release that IOTA Mini, a scaled-down, workshop-only version of the festival, will be taking place from Aug. 11 to Sept. 3. The GAC had indefinitely postponed the 10th anniversary edition of the yearly event back in March as COVID-19 precautionary measures were being implemented.

“I think it’s going to be great for the community and great for the participants and the artists are really excited as well because they were quite disapointed when IOTA was postponed,” GAC executive director Carol Fergusson said.

Fergusson said the GAC was considering holding the festival online before settling on the ‘mini’ format. While there were originally more than 30 workshops planned for IOTA, as well as discussions, performances and a craft market, IOTA Mini will feature 13 workshops, held outdoors, with only six participants allowed at each. Only one workshop will be held each day to accommodate for “thorough sanitization” of all surfaces, the release noted, and work spaces will be at least six feet apart.

“IOTA Mini is the result of careful work over the past few months to craft a festival that minimizes COVID transmission risk while providing an opportunity for our Gabriola community to have a little summer fun and support local artists,” the press release said.

The release said the GAC received a donation of plastic face shields which can be fastened to the brim of one’s hat from Canadian company Cap Shield and will be providing them free to instructors and registrants. Sanitizer and surface wipes will also be available and anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or who has been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 is asked not to attend. The release added that “if there is a spike in COVID transmission and we are advised to do so, we will cancel all activity immediately.”

“We recognize that as long as COVID is in our communities there is risk. In March, when we cancelled our 10th anniversary IOTA Festival, we knew little about COVID and anticipated the lockdown to essential services only,” the press release said. “Today we know more and as Dr. Bonnie Henry has moved us into Phase 3 of the B.C. restart program, GAC is moving forward too with an abundance of caution and in accord with the guidance and orders of the provincial health officer.”

WHAT’S ON … IOTA Mini takes place at the Gabriola Arts and Heritage Centre property, 476 South Rd., from Aug. 11 to Sept. 3. Registration for GAC members starts on July 27 at 10 a.m. and general public registration begins July 30 at 10 a.m. More information to be posted on the GAC website later next week.

RELATED: Isle of the Arts Festival returns to Gabriola Island



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