There are not a lot of purely visual art based festivals in North America.
It’s a sad reality, and one that I’ve never had the problem of in my entire life. Seriously, I’ve always had a festival for visual art and design in my city. There has been a group of artists dedicated to providing programming for artists since 1985.
They build a festival called The Works and are now celebrating the 31st year of their labour.
The Works International Visual Arts Society has a long-standing tradition of delivering a combination of excellent food and even more excellent art over a period of 2 weeks. They do this through The Works Art & Design festival, which is the largest FREE outdoor art and design festival in North America.
The event averages 60 exhibits via 29 venues throughout the downtown core and surrounding areas of the City, while the food and art vendors occupy 1 square kilometer of space in Churchill square. I’ve stolen The Works map for quick reference.
This is seriously one of my favourite events in the Festival City because it features street performers, 90+ musical performances, tours, demonstrations and all sorts of performance art.
More impressive is the giant list of volunteers and education programs that allow emerging artists the opportunity to explore the art community and truly see what is involved with a career in the arts. Whether it’s an internship in exhibition production, curation, design, administration or marketing, there are a number of opportunities available and a consistently surprising amount of information to unpack.
Let me put it this way, the interns begin their work placement at the start of May and carry through all the way to the end of the summer.
And there are TONS of opportunities if you want to volunteer too. Working on the street as a greeter, in grounds maintenance, and working on the patio are just some examples. But if you want to get involved with the exhibitions there are a number of places that need help with the programs, administration, and installation. I know this from personal experience and because I had friends and a former girlfriend spend their time helping out with the festival over their summers in previous years.
That being said, I don’t think it matters if you are a visual artist, an art enthusiast or simply a spectator, The Works International Visual Arts Society is delivering again this year. And you’ll literally (read:literally) have a full plate when you arrive and you’ll literally (read:metaphorically) have a full plate when you leave.
The Works is located at 10635 95th street Edmonton, Alberta, between June 23 and July 5. Check out their website for more information! I’m out of theories for this week friends, so check back on Sunday for something stimulating!