Bridging the community through art
Art, in its various forms, is a way for people to come together and connect in the spirit of interest and relationship. Inspired to bring an event to the Comox Valley that would be engaging and innovative, a group of self-advocates involved in The Friendship Project were successful in gaining support through the Self-Advocates Seeding Innovation (SASI) project to host a six-event art and culture expo called “The Art Of Friendship”.
This group of adults created a vision of what this event would look like, collectively deciding the expo’s direction and locations. The adults quickly discovered that it would be important to include a member of the arts community as a planning partner. The group posted an ad, conducted interviews and hired a local videographer. Inviting a planning partner into this journey was a great way to directly link The Art of Friendship Expo to the arts and culture community in the Valley. Connection, to the arts community, in many ways started long before the actual expo.
The Art of Friendship included a variety of events which brought the community together and assisted folks of all ages and interests to connect. It also raised awareness about diversity and the possibilities in regards to friendships between all community members.
The expo was incredibly well received and would not have been possible without the support of Reel Films At Frelones, The Zocalo Café, Music Maxx, Courtenay Recreation and the group of musical performers and artisans who contributed their work and gifts. A community collage continues to make appearances within the community, most recently at the Local Colors Festival as part of Market Days in downtown Courtenay. Following the expo, the adults had the opportunity to come together and talk about how they feel the event impacted and inspired the community:
“We got to support each other through the project.”
“It gave us the chance to take charge and to organize events.”
“People who may have only gone to one event, came to a few.”
“It gave awareness of what friendship, and the Friendship Project, are all about.”
To learn more about the Frienship Project, and see photos from this event, you can go to Facebook and search for “The Friendship Project”.
Highlights of the Art of Friendship Expo:
- A heavy metal drum clinic hosted by a self-advocate
- Two film screenings at a local grass roots movie house (Benny and Joon and 50 First Dates)
- An art exhibit opening featuring upwards of 30 pieces submitted by local artists, which included a community collage. This community collage was inspired by the individual collages of the self-advocates, and was on “interactive” display for 5 days in a local café for customers to contribute
- A community barbeque
- Musical performance to close the event