The 5th Annual Elevate Arts Festival is just around the corner and community members of all ages are jumping on board to be part of this FREE celebration of art, culture, ideas and community June 1-4 in the heart of Courtenay. This fringe style multi-venue event is jam packed with emerging talent, innovation, exploration and hands-on fun!
 
“This year we’ve been amazed by the number of people who have reached out to us from all over the island. The focus on audience engagement and the idea of tearing down barriers between the people who produce culture and the people who consume it is really important for people involved with Elevate.” says co-producer Bobby Herron. “We’re creating a critical counter point to the consumer festival model and instead building a space where creativity is freely experimented with, responded to, experienced and expressed.”
 
The Elevate Arts Festival features diverse evening programming June 1-3 leading to an all day and night street festival on Saturday June 4th. Wednesday night the festival launches with an exciting event called CV:Community Voices presented by the CV Collective and weareyqq.ca at the Courtenay Museum at 7 pm followed by a mixer a Gladstone Brewery. This event is a celebration of local culture, ideas, creativity, passion and opinions. 
 
On Thursday things really start to heat up with 3 fun filled events covering 3 disciplines. The Comox Valley Art Gallery plaza hosts Women and Words, a poetry and prose event featuring writers who identify as female. Union Street Grill will host an Elevate Youth Music showcase featuring emerging youth artists and the Lower Elks Hall will host the Underground Dance Showcase, an exciting and eclectic showcase of dance disciplines!
 
Friday you might as well head downtown and right after work or school and plan to stay LATE! The festival really starts to go off on Friday night. Imperial Square (home of Gladstone Brewing, Guerrilla Pizzeria and Mudsharks) is host to the Elevate “Bacon SLAM” poetry event, the Comox Valley Art Gallery hosts their big exhibit opening entitled “Sooner or Later”, a show that examines diverse representations of self portraiture across media. Over at the Lower Elks, take in an “adult only” staged theatrical reading of Mamahood: Turn and Face the Strange. Add to that a 5th Street exhibit “The 80’s Called and they Want their Art Back”, pop up events, single malt scotch tastings, live music at Billy D’s, late night films, and other surprises throughout Downtown Courtenay.
 
Then on Saturday the festival explodes into a carnival of music, poetry, circus, photography, community engagement, urban reclamation and more. Check out the annual Photopia exhibition at the Courtenay Library, “Stuff the Bus”, Make Art Saturday on the CVAG Plaza, and the “23 minutes after” poetry readings. Join the Elevating Fools Parade, make a collage, send the kids to activist camp, dance in the streets, hang out in a Pop Up Park, print a shirt or poster,  learn a Maypole Dance, write a poem, post your photos and tag #elevatethearts2016, imagine a future Comox Valley, take in the fire spinning and aerials and immerse yourself deeply into a celebration of culture and community. 
 
“The best way to wrap your head around the multitude of programming at Elevate is to go to the website at elevatethearts.com. There are detailed write ups on all the performers, artists, workshops, events and ongoing exhibitions. There will also be a downloadable schedule available so you can map out your week. With over 14 venues running on Saturday it’s really helpful to plan ahead so you don’t miss out on some really unique programming moments!” say Elevate Co-Producer Anna Rambow. 
 
Want to get involved? The volunteer engine that powers the Elevate machine is warming up! Organizers are still welcoming volunteers for myriad tasks at the festival including hospitality, site set up and decor, tech, signage and tear down. Go to elevatethearts.com to sign up OR email volunteers@elevatethearts.com.

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