Shifty Bits hold second successful arts gathering.
By Matt Carter m_j_c73
I wasn’t able to attend the second Shifty Bits Arts Gathering that took place last Tuesday at Connexion ARC, but from all reports it was another rousing success, attracting an enormous crowd of community-minded artists and art enthusiasts.
In hopes offsetting my fear of missing out, I asked event organizer Penelope Stevens to fill me in on the outcomes of round two.
“Zach Atkinson walked in to the second Gathering, raised his eyebrows, and said, ‘You’ve almost doubled your numbers from last time. What happened?’ And I honestly have no idea!
“The response to these Gatherings has been so overwhelmingly positive,” said Stevens. “The first Gathering was held in February, and we were so pleased to have about thirty community members. This, the second Gathering, through partnering with Connexion ARC and Feels Good, welcomed closer to fifty people.”
Attendance ranged from the usual suspects (Shifty Bits Cult members and co-conspirators) to the curious and the keen.
“Participants varied from teens to MLAs,” said Stevens, noting the attendance of Green Party MLA David Coon. “It was nice to see familiar faces, but also many new ones – those that may not have been previously included in the scene, but are looking to enter the fold.”
The Scene Stevens is referring to involves musicians, painters, photographers, organizers and really, anyone who interested in strengthening the community through arts activities, collaboration and friendship.
The success of the second Gathering could easily be measured by attendance alone. To pull that may people out on a Tuesday night is a major accomplishment no matter how you look at it. Seeing that many people interested in contributing to the betterment of something so many of us hold dear is really inspiring. But for this group, attendance is just the beginning.
“One of the hoped-for outcomes of these meetings is to expand the definition of the scene,” said Stevens, “and as we can see that happening already, it’s an indicator that things are moving in the right direction.”
“The conversations were a good mix of philosophical, practical, ethical, and controversial. We covered topics like volunteerism, increasing diversity in our arts community, creating safe spaces, permanent infrastructure needs, the all-ages scene, grant-writing workshops, rock operas, fundraisers, DIY residencies, Swingers Clubs, and literally dozens and dozens more.”
These Gatherings have already had an effect on things. February’s meeting resulted in the release of an impressive compilation pairing Fredericton musicians with the work of visual artists (available as a free download), and the birth of a new festival – FLOURISH. Who would have guessed that something good would come from collecting a group of likeminded people and putting them in a room together to discuss how to get things done?
The second Gathering tabled several ideas for development including a Swingers Club Showcase (an opportunity for new or not-currently-in-a-band artists to get back into the groove of creating), a Shifty Phonebook (an online and print collection of all artists in Fredericton and their various offerings to the scene), integrating the local arts with the school system to expose more youth to the arts and inspire them to participate in local culture) and developing a stronger relationship with the skateboard community.
“As Skateboard Fredericton and other groups are working desperately to get a new skate park, we see this as an opportunity to gain new audiences and work toward a common goal,” said Stevens. “Everyone wins with a skate park!”
The ideas keep coming, and with regular Gatherings planned throughout the year (the next one should take place in early fall), there’s a pretty good chance we’ve only experienced a hint of our collective potential.
“It seems like maybe the lasting impact of the Gatherings will be not so much the projects that arise, but the simple act of gathering,” said Stevens. “It’s our holy communion, a chance to reflect and renew our inspiration. It’s a chance to dream big and celebrate what we have.”