Congress delegates to enjoy York’s finest in music and culture

From May 27 to June 3, York University will host over 8,000 delegates to the 75th Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences (formerly the Learneds). In the run-up to Congress, one of the biggest academic events ever held at York (see YFile Feb. 2), YFile is focusing on different aspects of the meeting and its participants. Today the spotlight is on the festival of culture and entertainment that will be taking place during Congress. 

York will welcome the thousands of delegates to the 75th annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences with a diverse and colourful Fine Arts Festival.

Left and below: Congress culture and entertainment events showcase a sampling of talent from York’s Faculty of Fine Arts

The theme of this year’s Congress, “The City: A Festival of Knowledge”, is intended to stimulate discussion, debate and exchange across a wide variety of perspectives and against the background of disciplinary, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research and scholarship. It presents opportunities for Congress delegates and associations – individually or collaboratively – to explore a range of issues and approaches to the city.

The subtitle “A Festival of Knowledge” also conveys the University’s hope that Congress 2006 will be a celebration of learning and creativity, which draws in the many communities – academic and cultural; multicultural; local, national and international – of which delegates are a part.

Professor Seth Feldman, director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York, shares responsibility for the culture and entertainment at Congress with Nancy Accinelli, the event’s impresario-in-chief. Both are members of York’s Congress 2006 Planning Committee and have been working on the culture and entertainment program from the beginning of the planning process. Toyota Canada has provided full sponsorship for the cultural program.

The result has been a comprehensive set of events engaging groups from the fine arts at York, including music, theatre, visual arts, dance and film. A playbill distributed to all delegates and posters around campus will feature these events. Fourteen billboards positioned around campus will be updated with the daily list of events. Click here for a downloadable PDF of the cultural and entertainment events planned for Congress. Performers working in western and non-western traditions will be doing daily shows at a variety of venues across campus.

“No one has done this kind of entertainment for Congress the way we are going do it,” said Feldman. “We’re not just here to entertain delegates – though they certainly will be entertained. York University has Canada’s largest Faculty of Fine Arts and the studio work of the artists is as highly regarded as any other kind of research. In that way our festival, like everyone else’s, is really about knowledge. And while we’re at it, we’d like to show off the newest fine arts teaching facility in Canada – the Accolade complex.”

“Academics go to meetings to exchange information, debate and study issues,” Accinelli added. “One of our goals is to provide a setting where going to an academic meeting and getting together with academic colleagues will be enhanced by a lively environment. We want to elevate the Congress experience and showcase the talent in the faculty and students at York University.”

The Congress theme of the city will also be part of the culture and entertainment festival. There will be a mini-film festival of films with a city theme including two works not yet available in North America: Berlin Babylon and Shanghai GaGa. Also, as Feldman points out, the city, especially this city, will be very much present through the diversity of artistic traditions being presented. “We will be presenting the sights and sounds of a multicultural urban environment.”

York University has organized Congress 2006 in a triangle that starts at the Congress registration desk in Vari Hall and comes down through the Accolade complex, veers across to the book fair in York Lanes, to the Congress Hospitality Tent on the Vanier field outside Vanier College and then back again to Vari Hall. “In that triangle area there will be performances that showcase the scope and diversity of the programs in the Faculty of Fine Arts and the creative talents of its faculty and students,” said Accinelli. “There will also be dance performances in Accolade East, an MFA exhibit called Skin in the City was developed for Congress. It will take place in the Accolade West Gallery and another exhibit titled, Inconsolable Memories, continues in the Art Gallery of York University.”

Left: Delegates will have an opportunity to view a Tai Chi demonstration

All performances are free and open to the York community as well as to Congress delegates. “Congress 2006 will not be shutting down once the meetings are over. There are a lot of people staying on campus and in hotels close to campus,” said Accinelli. “We are trying to give them something wonderful to do during the evenings and in their spare time.”

Accinelli and Feldman view the culture and entertainment program as part of York’s coming of age, as well as an assertion of its academic supremacy in fine arts research and accomplishment.