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There's plenty to tempt at Amplify Festival

The St. Albert cultural festival kicks off Oct. 16 and 17
0910 Amplify
Pouring Paint, an Amplify Festival workshop, is a technique that lends itself to one-of-a-kind visual art that defies repetition.

There’s an embarrassment of riches for teens and young adults looking for fun and something novel to try at the seventh annual St. Albert Amplify Festival on Oct. 16 and 17.

As with other cultural festivals that have received the go-ahead, Amplify will be presented in a virtual format. Some of the events are pre-recorded, while others will be livestreamed.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, this two-day cultural festival continues to highlight the power and potential of youth in the fine arts.

Designed for students from Grade 7 to age 21 by a 17-person Amplify Youth Advisory Committee, it showcases the art and creativity of our next generation through music, singing, poetry, acting, painting and crafting.

Represented in this artistic cocktail are workshops, discussions, performances, a first-time film festival and a visual collaborative work of art.

“Every year, we do a physical collaborative art piece. This year, our theme is Find Your Light. The idea was there’s light at the end of the tunnel after COVID,” said community cultural co-ordinator Kathleen Bell.

“For the collaborative art piece, we asked people to send us a short video clip – about 15 seconds – as to whatever they saw as light during COVID. Maybe a pet, a cup of tea, whatever helped them get through COVID."

At the writing of this article, Bell was in the process of stitching the original submissions into a short film that will be available during the event’s Film Festival on Saturday, Oct. 17. It will be shared online via social media including Facebook and Instagram.

“Every year in January we start to brainstorm. We had always wanted to do a film festival and when COVID hit, it seemed like the right fit,” Bell said.

The Arden Theatre will screen eight cinematic works. In addition to the Find Your Light COVID short, there are also six youth films ranging from five to 10 minutes each and a professional work by Holly Mazur, an Edmonton filmmaker and long-time Amplify mentor.

There were no limitations placed on St. Albert’s young filmmakers. They submitted videos and films spanning sketch comedies and music videos to documentaries and a short narrative film.

Amplify kick-starts on Friday, Oct. 16, with Amplifying Ideas, a St. Albert version of TED Talks, where youth speak about the passions and challenges their generation faces. The livestreamed short talks are meant to inspire and engage.

“We’ve given youth 10 minutes to talk about subjects they are passionate about.”

Topics range from navigating university, cancel culture and organic produce to analog mediums, music experiences and comparing oneself to others.

“Arlo Maverick is the headliner. He’s going to be talking about the importance of creating community and supporting young artists as you build your career. He’s particularly good at that.”

Saturday, Oct. 17, is a full day of eight livestreamed workshops where instructors will be teaching from diverse locations. The one-hour sessions will be similar to speed dating in that they are booked one at a time and rapidly follow each other.

Lilian Lai from Edmonton Calligraphic Society introduces brush-lettering calligraphy, an elegant form of writing that uses broad strokes and turns the printed page into a barometer of beauty.

Actor Doug Mertz, a drama instructor at University of Alberta, Grant MacEwan and Citadel Theatre, will give theatre students the tools on how to learn a standard British dialect.

“He is engaging and charming and he’s definitely the expert in this area. He’s the go-to guy.”

A member of Amplify's Youth Advisory Committee will lead a quick tutorial on paint pouring, a free-flowing technique to create abstract art. To produce this trendy visual arts style, different tints are poured onto a flat horizontal canvas and manipulated.

“It’s a messy fun project. You can’t go wrong, and it’s so mesmerizing,” said Bell, adding that social media platforms carry videos to demonstrate the technique.

In a second visual arts workshop, artist Lynn Malin, whose exhibition Landwatch is currently displayed at the Art Gallery of St. Albert, will introduce a tried and true technique to create a birds-eye view of abstract painting.

Shifting into the arena of fashion, Josephine Junas-Grant reintroduces a concept our grandparents conformed to – mending clothes. In a 21st century twist, Junas-Grant, who leads the workshop from Grande Prairie, displays how creativity equals sustainability equals savings.

Filmmaker Holly Mazur reveals the secrets to creating movie magic from a simple cellphone.

“She will show you the basics, how to set up a shot and the rules of composition. And she’ll show you tips and tricks so you can create something cool on your phone. She’ll show you editing apps, filter apps, special effects apps and all the cool features.”

Printmaker Laura Grier and SNAP Gallery & Printshop create two exciting hands-on print-making demonstrations.

“First Laura will take participants through a do-it-yourself tutorial. And then through the magic of the internet, we travel to SNAP workshop where we’re given a few tips on print-making.”

And the free-spirited macramé, a favoured hippie art form from the '60s, is hip once more. Fibre artist Laken Howatt will showcase a knotting technique to create a textured wall hanging.

Throughout Saturday from 12 to 6:30 p.m., the festival will showcase a roster of 17 vocalists and poets performing live at the Arden Theatre. The scope of talent extends from folk singer Amanda Penner, indie rock artist Réa and rock-blues guitarist Cole Parks to folk-pop vocalist Rhian Sorotsky, jazz-pop artist Colin Salcedo and poet Julia Sorensen.

“My preference is to have an in-person festival. We all miss the community connection, but this is an opportunity for youth to be creative in a different way. We hope people come together, learn and have fun.”

All events are free. The exception is workshops where $10 is charged to cover materials. Tickets are available through For a complete list of artists or for more information visit or email [email protected]

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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