Experiencing fields of fire, dressing up like a crow, being mesmerized by artistry in the park – you never know what you’ll discover at Art in the Open. Celebrating its 10th anniversary on August 29th, this year’s Covid-friendly event will transform downtown Charlottetown into a magical, contemporary arts festival.
Free to the public and family-friendly, this unique event turns the historic core into an open-air art gallery that celebrates the heritage and green spaces of the city with ephemeral works of visual art, including installations, screenings, projections, performance art, dance, and more.
Here’s our guide on how to have a magical time at this year’s Art in the Open, taking place Saturday, August 29th from 4pm to midnight.
1. Leave Your Expectations at Home
Park any expectations you might have about what you’ll experience at Art in the Open before you head out for a journey through imagination land! Like the best things in life, Art in the Open is meant to be an experience you can’t necessarily plan too intensely for or anticipate in advance. It must experienced to be truly appreciated.
2. Do it by Day, Then Do it By Night
Art in the Open runs from 4pm to midnight, giving you the opportunity to experience it by day and night. Make the most of the daylight hours by exploring the spaces in downtown Charlottetown including Confederation Centre of the Arts, Beaconsfield, Rochford Square, The Guild, Victoria Park, and the Charlottetown Waterfront.
As day turns to night, make your way to Victoria Park for evening programming:
Field of Fire – an installation by Scott Saunders transforms the front field of Victoria Park with an arrangement of small fires.
Black Cultural Society’s pop-up film festival titled “Our Lives, Our Stories,” curated by Black Nova Scotia filmmaker Sylvia D. Hamilton, which will occur drive-in style at the Jones Building Parking lot (near Victoria Park).
Suburban Inflatables, a self-contained video installation exploring the colourful, surrealist world of marketing soft sculptures.
The Heartbeat of Epekwitk (PEI) – Join women’s hand drum group The Heartbeat of Epekwitk for a traditional Mi’kmaq performance in Victoria Park at dusk.
Do be sure you check the Art in the Open’s program brochure to ensure you catch the performances you’re most keen to experience!
3. Get in on the Action!
Although Art in the Open is a non-contact festival this year, it’s still a very fully immersive experience that will engage all your senses AND your imagination… if you let it. It is not designed with the passive observer in mind. Instead, Art in the Open extends an invitation to rediscover your playful side and fully embrace your creative nature.
4. Explore the Nooks and Crannies
Charlottetown is full of hidden and not-so-hidden spaces that come alive during Art in the Open. It’s the perfect opportunity to explore the historic downtown’s many nooks and crannies.
Discover green spaces such as Rochford Square and Victoria Park, waterfront locations along the Charlottetown Harbour, historic buildings including Beaconsfield and All Souls’ Chapel, and plenty of stunning streetscapes that will woo you along your adventures.
5. Let the Fires Inspire
There’s nothing quite like seeing a field of fire greet you as nighttime falls over Charlottetown. Make your way to Victoria Park’s front field and let yourself be inspired by Vancouver-based installation artist Scott Saunders’ arrangement of small fires.
Sit down and soak up the wondrous warmth of a fire, take a break and meet new friends around a fire or simply admire the fires from afar.
6. Embrace the mystic of the Crows
Crows have become synonymous with Art in the Open thanks to the March of the Crows, but unfortunately due to Covid-19, the parade is not going ahead this year as usual. Instead, organizers and artists are encouraging attendees to honour the tradition by dressing up as crows anyway and enjoy the festival in full costume. Some are even getting creative and making masks out of beaks made from various paper materials.
So mark August 29th, 2020 in your calendar and make time for magic and imagination in downtown Charlottetown!