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From the Noticeboard

2019 Island Fringe Festival

Now taking applications The 2019 Island Fringe Festival takes place August 1–4. As always, t [ ... ]

Diversity Workshop

NDP PEI will hold a Diversity workshop for members and supporters of all genders. The event will foc [ ... ]

Art House Residency

Summerside Scene
by Peggy Miles

In recent years Summerside has rebranded itself with a “small is big” message. You may have seen the message presented as “Small City. Big ideas” (or “Big opportunity” or “Big possibilities”).

With the launch of a new artist-in-residence program, Summerside can add another tagline to the mix—“Small House. Big Vision.”

The house itself can be found at 471 Notre Dame Street and offers living quarters and a creative space for visiting artists. Renamed the West End Cottage, the name is reflective of the building’s history as one of 10 cottages formally located at the Summerside golf course and moved to Notre Dame Street in the early 1950s.

From the outside the house appears small, but once inside, the feeling is surprisingly cozy and spacious. The interior includes enduring hardwood floors, neutral coloured walls, and historical photos reflecting Summerside’s harness racing heritage. The property is directly adjoining the Summerside racetrack and is one of the reasons for the programs’ official name of PACE.

The seeds for the project were planted last year when the City of Summerside purchased the grey-blue house and the staff at the City’s Wyatt Heritage Properties began exploring how an artist-in-residence program could be developed locally. WHP naturally reached out to the PEI Council of the Arts, who became an enthusiastic partner for the project. The association will be covering the cost of the weekly stipend to artists. “This entirely fits our mandate,” communicates Arts Council Executive Director Darrin White. “We’re always looking to support artists in meaningful ways.”

Wyatt Heritage Properties is now actively seeking applications from artists across the country. Chosen applicants will be eligible to reside in the house on Notre Dame Street during one of three residency periods (July–August, September–October or March–May).

Benefits to the artists include the opportunity to develop their practice, connect with other artists, and to get to know the community on an intimate level.

“What’s so exciting is the unknown,” conveys Lori Ellis, the Manager of Cultural and Heritage Properties at Wyatt Heritage Properties. Since applicants will propose the kind of contributions they will share as participants of the program, there is great potential for “increased dialogue about the arts in the community.”

Artists will be responsible to maintain an on-site studio presence and to be available to the public for discussion and idea exchange. Artists will also be responsible for performing community engagement activities, for example conducting workshops or participating in existing community spaces and cultural programs.

www.wyattheritage.com
www.peiartscouncil.com

In with the New Boss

Harbourfront welcomes Kieran Keller as General Manager

by Peggy Miles

Kieran KellerIt’s only been a few weeks since Kieran Keller walked through the doors of the Harbourfront Theatre and put on his hat as the new General Manager. Chat with him for a few moments and it becomes clear that his leadership approach is as fresh as his appointment to the role of top administrator.

Keller replaces Maurice Gallant, who left the theatre earlier this winter to pursue other professional opportunities.

Islanders are always looking for the 411 on new folks, so here it is: Keller is not a novice to the arts and culture scene, and in fact is not a greenhorn to Summerside either. He spent the last two summers as the production and stage manager for the Harbourfront’s mainstage show of Anne & Gilbert.

Keller’s connection to the Island began in 2001, spending the summer involved with the Confederation Centre’s Anne of Green Gables. He made the move to PEI permanent five years ago, and he and his wife Sharon are enjoying life as new parents to nine month old Ruby.

Keller has long been involved in the production side of theatre, which is backed by a theatre arts degree from Concordia University in Montreal where Keller is from.

This young professional gained business skills through time spent at a large Toronto advertising agency as well as an assistant manager role at the Great George Hotel in Charlottetown.

He credits these well rounded experiences as assets he will bring to his current role at the theatre.

Keller feels he will be able to provide a general direction for the theatre. He credits previous GM Maurice Gallant and the Board of Directors for positioning the theatre to succeed. “That’s a nice wave to be on,” says the fresh face. Keller wants to build on that momentum to help the theatre grow. He indicates that the theatre’s move last year to produce its own shows (as opposed to operating primarily as a rental facility) was a positive step and that his “role is to nurture that and continue that in a big way.”

Fostering relationships will be key for the new GM. He plans on connecting with the business community, potential funders, local artists and the public. He wants to “get in touch with the audience that is coming here” and plans to gauge the public to see what they most want to see on stage.

Keller shares that it’s a team approach that will build the theatre’s road to success. From longtime staff members who contribute a wealth of information, to a team of over 50 volunteers and a board of directors with a “renewed sense of involvement”, it appears the Harbourfront is positioned to shine. “They are invaluable” expresses Keller.

“At the end of the day, it’s entertainment. We’re trying to create a place that’s fun.” I ask what he is most looking forward to in his new role. “Looking back and saying, ‘Now that was a good season.’”

Canadian Ark

Folk artist Kerras Jeffery completes another unique piece

by Peggy Miles

Canadian Ark by Kerras JefferyWinters are long here on PEI. This presents an opportune time for folk artist Kerras Jeffery to execute pieces that have been brewing in his mind since last summer. With the hustle and bustle of visitors to his studio in tourist season, the slower pace of winter makes it an ideal time to put thoughts into action. One such item includes his recently completed Canadian Ark.

Having designed three different arks of the Noah variety in the past, the Canadian Ark is a cheeky twist on the biblical vessel. At 52 inches long and carved from wood, the Canadian Ark exists as a birch bark canoe, paddled by a uniform clad Mountie - the fearless leader to furry friends and winged creatures found across our nation—moose, beaver, walrus, fox, blue heron and more are gathered in this distinctly Canadian watercraft.

The artist is well known across the Island for his eclectic and chuckle triggering pieces. He gives ordinary objects persona – when you take a closer look you see that a penguin is actually a bowling pin, funny faces are old paint brushes, and the sculpture of a busty woman is in fact partially made from a tea kettle. Jeffery’s pieces provoke the imagination and they make you grin once you figure out the magic behind each piece.

Jeffery works on his craft full time and also makes eclectic furniture. He’s is based in Lauretta (on Route 151, north west of Elmsdale in Prince County) and it’s suiting that his business is known as Back Road Folk Art. If you visit—and once you get over the spectacle of the giant egg beater in his yard—you’ll find his 3,000 square foot shop filled with finished folk art pieces, as well as an attic jam-packed with hooks and hangers, doorknobs, jugs and pails, and metal thingamabobs that inevitably get woven into his carvings. He sources items at flea markets and yard sales and occasionally people stop by to donate an interesting find.

For the animal carvings in the Canadian Ark, Jeffery incorporated a Victorian coat hook to represent the caribou’s antlers, and the horns for the goat are represented by a Ram Dodge truck medallion. The wish bone from a 28 pound turkey was placed in the beaver’s mouth to represent logs being carried by the animal.

Jeffery seems like a ‘go with the flow’ kind of guy, and that’s exactly how he describes his process. “You can’t screw up folk art” he states. In his opinion, the wackier, the better. His biggest compliment is when “people start laughing at your work”.

Jeffery isn’t sure who will ultimately end up with the Canadian Ark. Whoever acquires the piece will no doubt appreciate Canuck culture and have an affinity for the true north strong and free.

For more information, check out www.birchgate.ca/kerras or contact (902) 853-3644 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Photo Club Grows

Summerside’s Red Sands Photography Club has over 40 members

by Peggy Miles

“Best Side Forward,” photgraph by Paul ArsenaultIn the spring of last year a mere seven people attended the first meeting of the Red Sands Photography Club. The Summerside based group now boasts over 40 members.

Paul Arsenault and Mike Gallant are Co-Presidents of the club which meets monthly at the Waterfront Mall. It was just prior to that gathering in early 2010 that the two coworkers contemplated the idea of starting a photo club. Arsenault says that the organization is now “far beyond the numbers we thought we’d be.”

Membership includes everything from people whose prior skills have been limited to a ‘point and snap’ approach, to amateurs who have made photography a serious hobby, to those who earn a living with the craft. While many of the members are based in the Summerside area, participants from across Prince County and from as far as Stratford regularly attend meetings.

The group meets the first Monday of each month to share photos, compare cameras and learn photo processing techniques including tutorials on Photoshop and tips on colour correction. “(We’re) learning off of each other,” says Gallant. The Co-Presidents share that some members have tripled their abilities since joining. “After almost every meeting we hear individuals say that they learned something,” indicates Arsenault.

During the club’s February monthly meeting the group will gather to hear internationally published and Island based photographer John Sylvester, who will provide tips and share his work.

The two organizers are quick to communicate the importance of the group as a sharing forum and community network for photography enthusiasts. Through new friendships individuals have been able to connect with others over a subject matter that they are passionate about. The goal of the founders is to “(bring together) a bunch of people who love to the same thing”.

Two weeks after each monthly meeting, group members gather again for a community outing to snap some pictures. Club excursions have included the capture of scenic images at places like Cavendish Beach and Malpeque Harbour, as well as action shots at hockey games. They’re also planning an upcoming trip to Heckbert’s Photography for a studio tour.

Currently the public can peruse images produced by the Red Sands Photo Club at the Summerside Farmer’s Market where the group has an exhibit. The club is also working with the Eptek Art & Culture Centre to arrange for a display in its lobby, and club photos will be shown in the spring at Wyatt Heritage Properties.

Arsenault and Gallant also make mention that their members are available to act as photographers for organizations hosting community events.

It’s worth checking out their Facebook group (Red Sands Photography Club) which features over 700 photos posted by various club members.

Anyone is welcome to participate in the photo club’s activities. Organizers can be contacted at 902-439-2386 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Spotlight Theatre Shines

Reasha Walsh’s enthusiastic theatre school in Summerside

by Peggy Miles

Spotlight Theatre Company rehearsesReasha Walsh’s enthusiasm about her theatre school makes me want to consider getting my sheepish, self-conscious self to one of her classes. Walsh is the operator of the Spotlight Theatre Company; full of genuine gusto for life in general, it’s easy to tell that theatre is her passion. Some people read books to relax—Walsh listens to cast recordings of musicals.

Born and raised in Summerside, Walsh was only three when she began dance lessons, which evolved into studying singing and acting as a young teen. In 2005, at the age of just 18, Walsh produced her first show, The Rock Revival. She followed this up as the director and choreographer of a cast of over 80 young people in the Wizard of Oz as part of the Harbourfront Theatre’s youth program. In 2008 she directed and choreographed Peter Pan at the theatre.

Before striking out on her own, Walsh was the Director of Youth Programming at the Harbourfront Theatre, where she led productions of The Jungle Book Kids and High School Musical.

As a leader, the spirited young entrepreneur believes strongly in teamwork and that “no matter what part or job you have in the production, one person is never more important than another. We work as a team and we perform as a team.”

The Spotlight Theatre Company has a new studio at the Waterfront Mall in Summerside, and also offers classes at the Arts and Heritage Centre in Alberton.

A variety of programs are offered for young people including Acting Beginnings, for younger elementary aged students, Acting Step Up for kids in grades 5-6, and Drama for intermediate and high school students to develop performance skills and technique.

Young adults 15–20 can flex their talents for singing, dancing and acting in Walsh’s musical theatre classes, or they can learn the essentials of comedic improvisation.

Programs are also offered to adults, where they are introduced to the study of voice and body, insight into how to prepare for an audition, and learning how to receive and provide constructive criticism.

Walsh indicates that theatre teaches important values such as self confidence, creative expression, commitment, leadership and teamwork. She is rewarded by watching a nervous child walk into his or her first class and then only months later watching that child perform on stage in front of hundreds of people.

This year will be a busy one for the Spotlight Theatre Company. In addition to the weekly classes, March Break and summer camps will take place. Walsh is also prepping for three big plays in 2011/2012, with auditions starting this summer.

Walsh has long-term plans for the Spotlight Theatre Company. “If you have ever thought ‘Maybe someday I would like to try,’” she says, “now is the time.”

www.spotlighttheatrecompany.ca, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 902-954-1376.

Blind Potato Jimmy

Richard DesRoches searches for mythical Summerside bluesman

by Peggy Miles

Blind Potato JimmyIf you’re surfing YouTube, you might come across several absurdly amusing short films that contain familiar Island surroundings. These are the creation of Richard DesRoches, whose films tell random stories of nonsensical happenings. To the viewer, what’s been chronicled might seem like the weekend mayhem of a group of buddies. This is true.

DesRoches plays a staring role, portraying characters such as evening news reporter Billy Pelican, who—with an unbiased journalistic tone—provides a humourously unflattering expose of all that is lacking in the Summerside community. Throw in footage from Compass and snippets of interviews with municipal officials (whom I am guessing were not fully aware of the outcome of their interview content) and you have an amusing little piece of video recording.

Behind the Furnace stars DesRoches as a beastial man living in isolation behind a basement heating system. There’s also the Little Jimmy Cardboard series, which will give your brain pause as you try to process the content.

DesRoches collaborates on many of his films with Neil Wiley, who performs duties as videographer and editor. The duos latest project is entitled Blind Potato Jimmy Jackson and at almost an hour in length is their first feature film. The premise? Town locals appear in a series of interviews, discussing a Summerside musical blues legend and his influence on the community. But no one has seen the bluesman in recent history, nor can they find any of his musical recordings.

Described as a mockumentary, the project has been ongoing for the past year and was recorded by Wiley using a basic Sony camera. DesRoches credits Wiley’s talents as an editor and indicates that a large part of the film’s comedic success is due to the style and aptitude in which Wiley pieces the segments together. In addition, he is responsible for the hours of editing that happens to produce mere seconds of footage for the final version of the film.

Blind Potato features cameo appearances from familiar folks from the area’s musical and artistic community. DesRoches and Wiley agree that collaboration with others is extremely important and helps a basic idea to evolve into more. Although there is a concept and storyline, there is a great deal of improvisational content, which both men indicate produces some of the most humourous segments of the film. Local musician Mike Dixon is behind much of the music for the project.

DesRoches describes the film as “extremely abstract” and he says it’s up to viewers how they want to interpret it. He hopes the film will make a contribution to Summerside’s artistic scene and that “hopefully [the film] will stir a little bit of interest.”

The men have not yet determined where the film will be shown, although DesRoches has his sights on a screening at an amateur film festival. The trailer for Blind Potato Jimmy Jackson can be found on YouTube. For more information on the project, the public can contact Richard DesRoches at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Neil Wiley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

New Vendors at Christmas Craft Fair

Ayse Kayisoglu, Sophie Lafrance and Sharon Doyle set up for the first time this year

by Peggy Miles

Ayse Kayisoglu of Muse in Me (photo: Peggy Miles)The annual Christmas Craft Fair hosted by the PEI Crafts Council will take place on November 12, 13 and 14. A much anticipated experience for fair-goers, it will be hosted at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown and marks the fair’s 46th anniversary.

The event is renowned for showcasing the work of the Island’s best craft producers. Along with returning vendors, some fresh faces will be found this year.

Jeweller Ayse Kayisoglu of Muse in Me will provide a fresh perspective through her offerings of jewellery pieces. Kayisoglu and her family recently moved to Charlottetown from Istanbul in search of a more secure environment for her children. She is inspired by the nature of the Island, which is reflected in her work. The artist is conscious of the earth tone hues have been showing up in her pieces, an influence taken from PEI’s beaches, greenery and water.

Specializing in hand made glass beads, Kayisoglu first learned the craft in her homeland of Turkey. She attended the internationally recognized Glass Furnace School, where students from all over the world learn various glass techniques during intensive short courses. Kayisoglu shares that the exposure to North American and other European artists “opened my vision” and ignited a “passion.”

She describes her work as ‘global.’ While her European roots have clearly had an effect on her craft, she does not wish for it to be the sole definition of her work. She feels that many various world influences have contributed to the uniqueness of her designs.

Kayisoglu is “really excited” about her participation in the craft fair. She looks forward to sharing her work with the public and hopes that people see her efforts as distinctive. Her desire is that eventually her creations will be recognizable as unique pieces belonging to the artist. About her new life on PEI: “I’m happy here. If you’re happy, you’re productive.”

Sophie Lafrance and Sharon Doyle of S & S Fused Glass (photo: Peggy Miles)Sophie Lafrance and Sharon Doyle, the duo that make up S & S Fused Glass Art, will also be participating in the Craft Fair for the first time this year. Lafrance and Doyle are retired members of the Canadian Forces and their military travel and experiences have influenced their handiwork.

Based in Miscouche, they are regular vendors at the Summerside Farmers’ Market and their work can also be found at the Kensington Artisan Market Place. Their pieces have been commissioned for both private collections and art shows.

Many of their items are hanging window pieces that feature contemporary designs such as inukshuks, crooked houses, and other folksy features. While similar artists often concentrate on abstract art, they like to incorporate specific themes into their work. They also produce glass jewellery, and have just begun experimenting with wire charms.

The pair will be introducing new pieces at the craft fair and look forward to the visibility their participation will provide. They also want to connect with other participants and “get into working with other artists”—for example partnering with a woodworker to produce pieces that incorporate both wood and glass.

Lafrance and Doyle are enthusiastic advocates for their craft. They have an approachable demeanor and are more than happy to share the experiences and the history of their craft pieces. “We’re just having fun” says Doyle.

www.peicraftscouncil.com

Seniors Resource

East Prince Seniors Initiative opens centre at Credit Union Place

by Peggy Miles

Gloria Schurman, Executive Director, Eileen Conway-Martin, Marketing & Communication, Seward Bouchie, Office ManagerTake note seniors in the East Prince area, a new initiative is underway that will benefit community members 55 years and older.

The East Prince Seniors Initiative (or EPSI) has just opened a seniors’ access centre at Credit Union Place in Summerside. Initiated by the Summerside Rotary Club in 2009, EPSI is led by a board of directors with representation from Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, City of Summerside, the PEI Seniors Citizens’ Federation, PEI Seniors’ Secretariat and UPEI. The organization receives Provincial and corporate support, and is in the process of exploring other partnerships.

“The senior population is mushrooming” says Gloria Schurman, Executive Director of EPSI. Schurman feels one of the roles EPSI will play is to “make the community aware of just how vital seniors are.” In the Summerside area alone, there are 12,000 individuals between the ages of 40 and 65…hence a growing need for resources related to this segment of the population.

The organization has established three areas of focus: wellness, lifelong learning and productivity. While EPSI may not directly manage community projects, it has its sights on serving as the connector between stakeholders to get projects off the ground. The goal is to bring groups of interest together, working collectively toward the needs of seniors.

Organizers also see EPSI as a drop in centre where community members may source information. Seniors can use on-site computers and Schurman describes the technology as a “life enhancing tool.” Access to computers enhances professional development, but can also be used to research things like recipes or quilting patterns. In addition, the access centre will share information regarding volunteer and work opportunities that may be of interest to seniors.

EPSI is conscious in its desire to reach all segments of the senior population. While many seniors play active roles in the community and are efficient at seeking out information, the organization also has plans to reach out to seniors who don’t or can’t access information as easily.

An important part of EPSI’s work will be to monitor initiatives and measure results. For example, a project that has a goal of improving the activity level of seniors can be measured to see how the program has affected blood pressure levels in participants. The organization feels strongly that it will be creating a model that can readily be used by other communities.

EPSI’s location at Credit Union Place provides the organization with access to a large numbers of seniors who use the facility daily. With curious community members stopping in to see what the initiative is all about, word of mouth is already spreading about this valuable community resource. The organization is in the beginning stages of development, but Schurman hopes that EPSI will soon be a buzz word in the community.

EPSI is staffed by Executive Director Gloria Schurman, Office Manager Seward Bouchie, and Marketing and Communication Coordinator Eileen Conway-Martin. They welcome the community to visit their location. EPSI can also be found on Facebook.

Events Calendar

November 2018
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Some Upcoming Events

Together Again

Kenny and Dolly Tribute Concert at the Confederation Centre November 29
Homburg Theatre  On No [ ... ]

Light Up the Dark

Confederation Centre holiday show December 14
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The Sisters Brothers

November 21–25
City Cinema 14A, graphic violence, disturbing content, coarse language.
Dir: Ja [ ... ]

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