For the past three years a team of local community and arts organizations has been working together to foster community through art in a downtown neighbourhood.
On Aug. 12 Haliburton Street will be closed from Farquhar to Sabiston Streets by the South End Community Food Forest for the Food Art Fun: Art in the Food Forest street fair. The event features vendors, performances and workshops and is a joint venture of the Mid-Island Community Development Coop, South End Community Association, AEIOU Art Collective and the Nanaimo Arts Council. All proceeds from the fair go towards the Mid-Island Community Development Coop.
“The main goal of it is to get people together in an event that promotes the arts, the environment and community,” Food Art Fun co-ordinator Larissa Coser said.
“It’s different from other events [because] we actually get people to do art. To actually be involved in creating things rather than just consuming entertainment.”
A returning artist from last year is local singer Elise Boulanger, who will perform with pianist Sean Patton in their duo The Blooming. She said she’s seen how art forms community first hand.
“You just find other people that have a language that is similar to yours,” she said.
“Like [with] music, people can just relate to each other and then they can start playing with each other and inspiring each other and teaching each other.”
In its first year the event just took place at the food forest. This is the second time the festivities are spilling into the street. Coser said preparing for the street fair has been a community-building effort in itself.
“We have work parties that people come and we make all the decorations together … so people know what it’s like to put a festival together, what it’s like to create art and they can learn new skills from being part of it,” she said.
“And through the process of learning, really strong relationships are built, which is another big pillar of community development. And the South End really needs that sort of connection to help each other out. As you know, we’re the poorest neighbourhood in town and homelessness and addiction’s really hit us hard.”
Coser’s dream is to see Food Art Fun go all the way up Haliburton Street to Deverill Square Gyro 2 Park and she said conversations are already underway with the South End Community Association to expand the fair.
“We just really want to show to the city that there’s a lot going on in the South End … that we’re not just the poor neighbourhood that everybody in the South End is scared of visiting,” she said.
“We want to be a place where people actually want to come and visit because we’re doing things and were really proud of that.”
WHAT’S ON … Food Art Fun comes to Haliburton Street from Farquhar to Sabiston Streets on Sunday, Aug. 12 from 12 to 4 p.m.