Carnegie Days: a festival of art and language

Carnegie Days marks nine years as a multifaceted festival with lots of different activities, from music and dance to visual arts, books, and film. All of it unfolds at several downtown Barrie venues and the majority of it is free of charge.

The festival is named for Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-born American who made a fortune in the steel industry and became a philanthropist in his later years. He spent more than $56 million to build 2,509 libraries around the globe, including Barrie’s first public library.

The former Mulcaster Street library was renovated and expanded to become MacLaren Art Centre. The festival is a celebration of the building’s roots as a library and explores the role of language in the arts. The gallery has partnered with the downtown Barrie Public Library, Barrie Film Festival and the Simcoe Contemporary Dancers on the programming.

“This year’s theme is the story of place – the region as a landscape and our experiences of living in Simcoe County,” said Christina Mancuso, MacLaren Art Centre education officer.

Highlights include the MacLaren Legacy Dinner, which, this year, honours Simcoe County-based artist John Hartman. Author Amy Jones, who was shortlisted for 2017 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, will also be featured. The dinner is a fundraiser in support of MacLaren programs for children, youth and families.

The Barrie Film Festival presents Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Uptown Theatre on Sept. 28. It features never-before-seen works, writings and photographs.

There’s a film screening on Sept. 29 too, in the Carnegie Room. The documentary, A Shift in the Landscape, looks at the ongoing fight to preserve some of the site-specific artworks by Richard Serra, some of which are part of an ongoing dispute between King City citizens and the private developers who own the land. It also features a short Q&A with the filmmaker, Simone Estrin.

The library hosts a special Carnegie Days Storytime that centers on the book Canada 1, 2, 3, written by Kim Bellafontaine, with illustrations by Per-Henrik Gurth. Rhymes, songs and an art-related craft will follow the story.

One of the most popular activities is the Sunday Family Workshop. For Carnegie Days, regional artist Jess Comella leads a workshop based on memorable summer experiences where families will make two works of art, two different ways.

Performances by the Simcoe Contemporary Dancers follow and, this year, in keeping with the theme, the dancers have created choreography that explores memories and stories of place.

Also on Sept. 30, starting at noon, there are five short films. Many are animated.

“We have a great partnership with the National Film Board,” said Mancuso, adding that this year’s crop of fun animated films focuses on Canadian and international stories. “I think everyone will enjoy them and it’s all free.”

Carnegie Days run from Sept. 27-30. All current exhibitions are open for viewing. Visit maclarenart.com for more activities.

Photo: At the Carnegie Days Family Workshop, Sept. 30, participants will make two works of art to illustrate a memorable summer experience.

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