Published on September 14, 2021
Arden Series Helps Brings Community Back Together
Imagine sipping a drink on the plaza in front of St. Albert Place. The air is warm from the setting sun. A great blue heron flies overhead to land in the slow-moving waters of the Sturgeon River. The fountain bubbles and the bronze statues that dot the area look particularly affable, as the cool evening air begins to roll in. And then, one of Alberta’s standout musicians strums their guitar and shares something most of us haven’t experienced in a year and a half: live music.
It’s arguably the perfect way to spend an evening in St. Albert, and it’s no longer a dream, but a reality, thanks to The Arden Theatre’s new Plaza Series. According to The Arden’s Professional Programming Presenter, Caitlin North, the idea has been on the back burner for a while.
“I think it’s always been a goal to do this [Plaza Series] because where The Arden is, is such a beautiful place,” explains North. “Being on the river, the building is a beautiful backdrop, and the architecture of Douglas Cardinal’s building—we’ve just got this really prime location.”
Photo Credit: Marc Chalifoux
As The Arden team looked forward to re-opening, they decided that now was the time to realize the dream of an outdoor concert series.
“The series is really meant as a way for us to celebrate coming back together,” says North. “[We wanted to] make it a really accessible way for the community to celebrate summer and get to see their neighbours again. There’s a social aspect and we’re trying to make it as comfortable, as accessible and as inviting for everybody as possible.”
To do that, North has programmed some great Alberta-based artists, in a diverse array of musical genres (and even a comedy troupe), to appeal to a wide range of audiences. The event on September 23rd will be reserved for re-connecting with the local arts scene, as The Arden Plaza Series presents the first ever Good Neighbour Open Mic Night.
Working alongside Family and Community Support Services to celebrate Good Neighbour Day, residents will discover who among their neighbours are secretly performers, as St. Albert artists of all skill levels are encouraged to take the stage and share their talents. Kicking off the night will be St. Albert raised indie-folk musician, Andrea Shipka, who creates dynamic, pop-infused soundscapes under the pseudonym, mightberea.
Other headlining artists still to come in this Series include John Wort Hannam, and Garrett Gregory and Karac Hendriks.
“We have an amazing well of talent that resides in our province and in this region specifically, so to have the opportunity to spotlight some of them and give them a headlining slot is really exciting,” says North. “It’s part of our mission to nurture artists and introduce them to audiences with the intention of, perhaps, bringing them back and getting them on to The Arden stage at a later date. Some of these artists have already played The Arden Theatre, but for some of these ‘new to our patron artists,’ I think they are going to be building a big local fan base here.”
Tickets for the open mic night performances are available online, and once inside the gates, the ticketed area will be licensed. As for seating, premium tables with space for six will be front and center with theatre seating in rows behind. And if cost is an issue, North has no problem with residents pulling up a lawn chair to enjoy the tunes outside the official confines of the “venue."
“I feel much more optimistic right now,” shares North, when asked about being able to book live music once more. “In April, I didn’t think we would be in this position, so it’s really exciting to be able to support artists again in this way—giving them an opportunity to perform live and giving them the chance to connect with their audiences again.”
Full details and a complete list of performers is available at ardentheatre.com.
Banner Photo Credit: Marc Chalifoux
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Last edited: September 15, 2021