September 19, 2009

Gayle Dempsey recipient of Muskoka Awards in the Arts

Gayle Dempsey is a fifth-generation Muskokan whose lifelong love of the arts has permeated every aspect of her life and work. A painter, agent, impresario, educator, writer, poet, mother and mentor, Gayle Dempsey is the recipient of the inaugural Muskoka Award in the Arts.

Dempsey's contributions and leadership in the Muskoka arts community and the creativity and passion she brings to whatever endeavour she undertakes inpire those around her.

Though she studied arts at the University of Waterloo, Dempsey left school and worked for a time at a customs brokerage until the birth of her first child, when she returned to Muskoka.

Source: Muskoka Magazine, September 19, 2009.

Read more here (Adobe Acrobat required).

September 19, 2009

Muskoka Lakes Music Festival

When Toronto Symphony Orchestra violinist Atis Bankas invited a number of classical musicians from all over the globe to teach at a summer music camp he ran on Lake Rosseau, he could never have imagined where it might lead. They took him up on his offer in 1996, but they wanted to play somewhere at night, so Bankas began a summer music series at Windermere.

Its success lead Bankas to ask local impresarios Gary Froude and Gayle Dempsey to help manage a larger event he would call the Muskoka Lakes Music Festival, which had its premiere season the following summer.

In the years since, the festival has expanded its repertoire beyond classical to include music from many other genres. It has spawned musical and fine arts education programs, entertaining and teaching with performers and artists of the highest caliber.

Source: Muskoka Magazine, September 19, 2009.

Read more here (Adobe Acrobat required).

November 23, 2007

Music festival wins award

Last week the Ontario Trillium Foundation handed out Great Grants awards, and the Muskoka Lakes Music Festival was recognized for the grant it received for its Kaleidoscope program.

“The Great Grants Awards recognize the vision, commitment and energy of Ontario’s volunteers and community organizations,” said Christina Golding, Grant Review Team chair for Muskoka, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Timiskaming. “This is our 25th year of strengthening communities and we’re celebrating by holding 16 award events across the province.”

Children and the arts go hand in hand. Encouraging artistic study, practice and appreciation can sometimes be another matter. The Muskoka Music Festival sought to make this process fun. In 2004, an OTF two-year grant of $73,800 helped the festival deliver Kaleidoscope in the Schools (KITS), an arts education program for children in the Muskoka area.

The grant supported a children’s festival, a children’s choir, after-school art and a summer arts camp. KITS linked schools with local professional artists who shared their skills and knowledge. Through drawing, singing, theatre and other artistic disciplines, kids experienced creativity firsthand. Twenty-one artists were involved in reaching 2,000 elementary students through this innovative program.

Three artists who participated in the project were so inspired they registered in a Bachelor of Education program.

Kaleidoscope Arts in Education Programs are an initiative of the not-for-profit Muskoka Lakes Music Festival, based in Port Carling. Kaleidoscope develops innovative, integrated arts programming for schools, children and teachers in the Muskoka area. By connecting schools and local children with professional artists in the community, Kaleidoscope strives to enrich students’ learning experiences and teachers’ expertise in the arts.

The artistic workshops awaken creativity, celebrate cultural diversity, and deepen awareness and understanding of complex issues. Through workshops in local schools, at the annual Kaleidoscope Children’s Festival and in summer programs, children and teachers participate in innovative arts-based projects led by professional performing and visual artists. Kaleidoscope’s growing roster of artists includes painters, folk singers, printmakers, carvers, potters, dancers, pianists, actors, fabric artists, photographers and sculptors, all from the Muskoka area.

Kaleidoscope’s pilot project, titled “Songs of the Earth,” took place over three weeks in March 2003 at Pine Glen Public School in Huntsville. Other whole school projects included “Imagine One World,” at Macaulay Public School in Bracebridge, November 2004; “Pan African Village Festival” at Glen Orchard Public School, November 2005; and a garden/nature-themed project at Muskoka Beechgrove Public School in Gravenhurst, May 2006. These projects each involved over 12 artists working in collaboration with the teachers to develop creative workshops based on the curriculum.

Kaleidoscope also offers workshops for teachers on delivering the Ontario arts curriculum, and has completed the first installment of a series of curriculum support documents on DVD.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation presents the Great Grants Awards every two years. The award winners were selected by volunteers who serve on the local Grant Review Team. In the Muskoka, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Timiskaming region, five organizations were chosen for their outstanding achievements in arts and culture, sports and recreation, environment and human and social services sectors.

Source: Muskoka News Weekender.