-- Photo by Liz Lott

— Photo by Liz Lott

By Kelly Anne Smith with Caroline Parnell

NORTH BAY — Four days of non-stop arts activities in the 2015 Dream Big Conference has concluded with creative satisfaction for the North Bay and area arts community.  The artist-run White Water Gallery presented a whirlwind of a schedule to encourage and engage artists to dream big.

The last performance on the last day of the Dream Big Conference came together in a community engaged fusion of theatre, improvisation and dance in Aanmitaagzi’s performance called Beneath Us! It was scripted by Sid Bobb, the Co-artistic Director at Aanmitaagzi (He speaks, She speaks) and community member Cecile Hookimaw. “It is about a story from my area in Vancouver. It was partly improvised and partly scripted. People from the Train of Thought, and local artists and audience jumped in to be part of the show.” Said Bobb, adding “It’s almost like what was happening in the ‘60’s and called open theatre.”

The Train of Thought is a community based arts project enroute to PEI from Vancouver with twenty stops along the way, one of which is North Bay.

Artistic direction for Aanmitaagzi’s production was collaboration between Sid Bobb and his wife Penny Couchie, each bringing impressive performance creds to the job. Bobb is one of the hosts of CBC’s Kids Canada, an instructor at The Centre for Indigenous Theatre, and a founding member of Aanmitaagzi who has worked to carry forward the traditional and life stories of Nipissing. Couchie is a theatre artist and choreographer from Nipissing First Nation.  Sid Bobb, who is the great grandson of Chief Dan George, resides with his wife Penny and their children in North Bay.

The main coordinator of the Dream Big Conference, Clayton Wyndatt was the executive director of the White Water Gallery for seven years. The position is now held by Serena Kataoka.  Kataoka is a local dance performer and Nipissing University professor.

Wyndatt, a Metis artist, lives the gallery’s motto, Get Involved, Make Things Happen.

He encourages beauty in the world. “We as artists have to keep focused on having a beautiful place. To walk the path towards a beautiful place, we have to keep envisioning it.”

The Ontario Arts Council announced changes during its presentation to the conference. Wyndatt explains there will now be three streams to apply to, making the process more defined.

“There was a successful unique pilot project with the Near North District School Board highlighting aboriginal art. It was funded by The Ontario Arts Council, which is inviting more community engaged work.”

Wyndatt says there’s room for funding growth from local municipalities. He cites the example of Toronto which gives millions of dollars to the local arts.

While smiling with the success of the 2015 Dream Big Conference, Wyndatt has turned his focus to his work on upcoming installations.