Eco Art & Media Festival features performances, workshops and more

The 11th Annual Eco Art & Media Festival, a multi-disciplinary festival initiated by the Faculty of Environmental Studies, kicks off tomorrow at 12:30pm with a talk by Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, sponsored by the Geography Department, the first event of many in the festival’s five-day schedule.

The theme of this year’s festival, “Ripples and Tides: Community Movements Motions of Change”, aims to inspire, challenge and encourage communication. The festival, which takes place at the Keele campus and at various venues in Toronto, offers performances, dance, music, art, film/video and more. The goal is to engaging the community in a celebration of diverse forms of creative expression.

The 2005 festival theme is based on the notion that actions originating at a local community level can ripple out to have large global effects, mirroring the action of a drop of water that ripples and flows out, into ever expanding concentric circles. The Eco Art & Media Festival is designed to give everyone an opportunity to celebrate grassroots initiatives and creative expressions which work towards positive environmental and social action.

Although the festival begins officially on Tuesday, there will be a pre-festival community work day today, 9:30am -5:30pm, in Room 018, Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies (HNES) Bldg.  Volunteers are invited to help transform “space into place” by dropping in for banner making, mural painting, knitting projects, neat workshops and more.

For the past 25 years, Burtynsky has explored unfamiliar places where industrial activity has reshaped the surface of the land. His surveys of the man-made terrain of quarrying, mining, railcutting, recycling, oil refining, and shipbreaking remind us that these incursions into the earth arise out of perennial human needs and desires. He had a major exhibit last year at the Art Gallery of Ontario and recently received the prestigious Rencontres d’Arles Outreach Award for his contributions to discussions in the interest of humanity.

Following the opening lecture, there will be a student informal session, 2:30-3:30pm, in Room 138, HNES.

The opening night wine and cheese will be held from 6-9pm in the HNES Lounge and features an exciting, extensive display of visual art creations from students, faculty and alumni. There will be performances throughout the night.

Wednesday’s events include a movement and dance workshop with Mary Elizabeth Manley, 10am-noon in Room 018, HNES which will be followed by a Community Circle Academic Forum, 12:30-2:30pm, titled Capacity Building through Cultural Promotion.

Capacity building can mean many different things but, used in this context, it means helping people, organizations or communities achieve their goals by providing them with the knowledge and tools to be effective through their own means. Cultural production, used in its broadest sense, is the making of meaning in a culture and encompasses anything from writing, art, performance, media and all forms of communication and expression. The goal of this forum is to engage in a discussion about the use of cultural production for capacity building, to share success stories and to articulate challenges within this work. Capacity building through cultural production can have many outcomes, whether it be to raise levels of self confidence, leading to an increased capacity for active citizenship, to foster a critical reflection or experience leading to action, or to provide training in the use of cultural production materials as tools of communication and expression.

Thursday’s events begin with a song-writing workshop led by Fred Yurichuk from 10am to noon in Room 018, HNES. Participants will be able to join in the impromptu song writing session using assorted found instruments and their voices. The goal is to bring together members of the community by writing a song that addresses a local issue and improves on traditional folk arrangements.

The festival includes a series of film screenings beginning Wednesday, 2:30pm, with a presentation of activist video projects in Room 115, Fine Arts Building, organized by the Faculty of Fine Arts’ Department of Film and Video. Additional screenings will take place Thursday and Friday, 12:30-4pm.

Friday at in the ballroom of Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel (Queen Street West at Gladstone) there will be a cabaret performance featuring members of the York community beginning at 9pm.

This eclectic evening of free jazz, dance, folk music, storytelling and poetry forms the highlight of the Eco Art & Media Festival. Interactive visual art pieces created over the festival week will be showcased this evening.

Saturday, 10:30am-4:30pm, the scene shifts to the 519 Church Street Community Centre for a workshop on Theatre for Social Change led Margo Charlton. The workshop will explore ways to work with community groups to explore common issues and concerns. The workshop will guide participants through a series of theatre exercises culminating in a short presentation. Charlton is a theatre director, dramaturge and producer with over 27 years of experience working in professional and community-based theatre. She has designed and delivered workshops and training programs in popular theatre and drama for groups in Canada and taught at the University of Winnipeg. Registration, which is limited to 15 people, can be arranged by contacting Andrea Winkler,

Also on Saturday, there will be a hands-on Introduction to Animation workshop at NFB Mediatheque,150 John Street at Richmond, 3-5pm,, for those who registered before Feb. 26.

For more information and a schedule of events, visit the Eco Art & Media Festival Web site.