The good news is Amplify is coming back. Just don’t expect any packed dance pits or crowd surfing. It is, after all, the second year of COVID-19 and festival organizers are playing it safe.
Although the youth festival was cancelled in 2020 due to lack of funding, the City of St. Albert encouraged a new bite-sized Amplify: Al Fresco to go ahead. Broken down into three parts, the outdoor event continues to promote the single goal of encouraging creativity among participants from Grade 7 to the age of 21.
“We started planning in January with the Amplify advisory committee. We talked about the restrictions and parameters we could work in. Essentially, our working theory was to plan a summer that was similar to last summer – being outside, low contact, and a controlled environment,” said Kathleen Bell, the city's community cultural co-ordinator.
Amplify: Al Fresco on Sunday, Aug. 8, revives the casual low-key vibe with a concert of up-and-coming young artists. Eleven aspiring artists are booked for the four-hour gig, including Savannah Hill, a bluesy rock’n roll singer; Cyra, an R&B belter; and Angie Caroline, a bilingual vocalist. The concert takes place at Lions Park from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“There’s a whole range of performers. The diversity keeps it interesting. Most people enjoy a variety of music, especially with people now bouncing around their Spotify playlist,” Bell said. “People can bring a blanket and a picnic basket and stake out their spot.”
After a two-week break, Amplify returns with the 4th annual Illuminate, a Kingswood Park evening of visual arts magic on Saturday, Aug. 21, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
“It’s our version of an art walk. We choose a popular path in the park and scatter art throughout the walk. We want people to walk through the park and discover art.”
During the festivities, a youth photo exhibit will be on display and sidewalk chalk art will be visible on pathways. The feature activity is an art battle – a round-robin-style tournament for visual artists. The aspirants sign up to create a piece of art in 30 minutes. Winners move to the next round.
“They make great paintings. I’m always super impressed with what they can do.”
As the sun slowly sets and lights hang from trees illuminating the park, musicians round off the event at different stations in the park.
Movie in the Park is saved for last. Fresh Air Cinema is trucking in a giant inflatable movie screen at Lions Park on Friday, Sept. 17. School of Rock, the 2003 PG movie, will be screened at sunset.
The comedy stars Jack Black as a down-on-his-luck musician who fakes credentials and becomes a music teacher at a prep school. Emphasizing a can-do spirit, he turns wannabe musicians into champions.
“The image is projected onto a large screen and there are speakers at the side. People won’t need any technology to enjoy it. The evening may be cooler so people may want to bring sleeping bags or blankets to stay warm.”
Amplify events are free of charge.