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Our Partnership With Brock: Deep Community Roots

In the Soil Arts Festival is proud to once again partner with Brock University in delivering the 9th edition of the fest. Not only are many of our 2017 festival artists former or current students, faculty and alumni of Brock programs; when we got to thinking about it, if it wasn’t for Brock, we wouldn’t be here. (Or at least not right here on the cusp of this ambitious year nine).

OK, so here it is straight up.

The festival was cofounded by six people, all Brock grads: three from the Dramatic Arts, two from Communications and Culture, and one from Philosophy.

To go even further, In the Soil is produced by Suitcase in Point, a theatre company founded by a handful of Brock grads who decided to make St. Catharines their home fifteen years ago. We chose to stay. It was a choice not to leave after graduating to pursue our careers in the arts in larger urban centres.

And here we still are.

Photo by Stan Lapinski

Our experience at Brock was unique, at least we think so. We got to know each other. We got to develop relationships with our community, with our professors, with other emerging and established artists. We got to make things happen. And our community and our university embraced us.

When we founded In the Soil in 2009, Centre for the Arts at Brock University graciously hosted our culminating showcase at their theatre for the first few years. Debbie Slade, former Director at the Centre, remains an instrumental voice of our early years, encouraging us to think outside the box and innovate at every corner.

From RHIZOMES; photo by Jamie Duncan

When Brock opened the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts last year — right in the downtown core! — faculty and staff eagerly worked with us to host RHIZOMES at their brand spanking new, beautiful, and impressive facility. And we are thrilled to be back again this year. If you haven’t experienced RHIZOMES, check out the choose-your-own-art-adventure here.

We’ve also been fortunate enough to work in partnership with the Rodman Hall Arts Centre on an interactive arts workshop led by artist and Brock professor Donna Akrey in conjunction with her exhibition Also Also; participants will be lead in making and transforming common materials into assembled sculptures that speak to urban environments, language and communication, and the “power of the habitual”. Find out more here.

This year, Brock stepped up even more as a Premium Harvester Sponsor in support of a very special In the Soil Arts Festival presentation of A.N. Myer Secondary School’s GNAW Friday 6pm in the Robertson Theatre. As the 2017 recipients of In the Soil Arts Festival award at the Niagara Sears Drama Festival, these emerging theatre makers will share their work with Soil audiences as part of our theatre showcase.

From “GNAW”

Brock and In the Soil have also treated A.N. Meyer’s budding performers and crew with all-access festival passes, providing access into all festival events. Together, we hope to encourage youth to engage in the arts in Niagara and provide a place to “experience creativity,” as Brock offers with so many of its programs. We hope they have the very best time and are inspired for years to come.

So, thanks Brock. For supporting the festival, for engaging the community, and for believing in your students.

— Annie Wilson, Natasha Pedros, & Deanna Jones