Cheer Story: Weyburn Arts Council Bringing the Arts Outdoors!

Posted in Cheer Stories

Cheer Story: Weyburn Arts Council Bringing the Arts Outdoors!

The Weyburn Arts Council's commitment to community engagement has taken a refreshing turn by embracing the outdoors in its programming initiatives. The initiatives feature local artists turning public spaces into dynamic canvases that celebrate local talent. The Weyburn Arts Council has successfully transformed the outdoor landscape into an inclusive gallery. By involving both local artists and community members in these initiatives, the council has not only showcased artistic talent within Weyburn but has also fostered a strong sense of connection.

Regan Lanning of the Weyburn Arts Council said when the doors to the gallery and programming spaces shut in 2020, they immediately started to look for other methods and manners of delivering programming.

Before the Arts Council started expanding its programming scope to include venues outside of the gallery, its reach was limited to people already aware of its programming. By taking art outside, they've connected with individuals who may not have identified as avid art enthusiasts. The decision to take art to the streets and parks of Weyburn has unveiled avenues of partnership, collaboration, and enjoyment that were previously untapped.

“We have continued putting an emphasis on public, free programming, and art outside of the gallery walls as a way of getting the community involved. For us, that has been using our community as a gallery and programming area,” said Lanning.

The Weyburn Arts Council has been actively incorporating the outdoors in its programming through initiatives such as the Jubilee Park Murals, transforming baseball dugouts into vibrant works of art. Their annual Gifted Summer Art Market in Jubilee Park has become a community highlight, offering a blend of art, entertainment, kids' activities, food, and more. During Pride month, the Council adds a colorful touch to the city by painting the crosswalks outside City Hall in a vibrant rainbow. As part of Culture Days, the Weyburn Arts Council hosted the 2nd annual Treaty 4 Timeline Walk for Reconciliation in Jubilee Park, the walk takes readers through life on Treaty 4 land from pre-contact to the current day.

“The outdoor experience is much more relaxed and extremely accessible. People can enjoy at their leisure, without having the goal of their outdoor activity be art appreciation. It sneaks up on them. While enjoying our gallery is always free, it does require going to the actual gallery. Taking in the public art just requires leaving the house,” Lanning explained.

Inspired by a workshop hosted by South East District on "winter town" concepts, the Weyburn Arts Council brought a unique programming idea to life in the community - "Rollin with the Gnomies."

“As most of our outside programming happens in the summer, we attended the presentation hoping to be inspired, and we certainly were! From the idea of holding a winter scavenger hunt, we developed our Rolling with the Gnomies program.

Members of the Arts Council got together in January to create several hand-built pottery gnomes. Those gnomes are fired in the kiln and then given names and personalities. We created a Facebook group called ‘Rollin with the Gnomies’ where we introduce the gnomes, and then hide them in our community one by one over a series of weeks. A picture of the gnome is taken in its hiding spot and a clue to where it is located is posted to the Facebook group. Participants then go find the gnome, hide the gnome in a new location, and then post a picture and clue to its new location.

When rolling out this program, we assumed that the program would mostly be enjoyed by young families. Young families certainly did enjoy looking for the gnomes, but so did people of all ages! It has proven a wonderful way of getting people outside, fostering friendships, and fighting the mid-winter blues.”

The feedback regarding their outdoor programming is overwhelmingly positive. Not only do community members express their enjoyment and engagement with the programs, but they also actively request additional offerings.

Photo Credit: Regan Lanning, Weyburn Arts Council