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Each of these arts festivals features exhibits of student work, performing arts and workshops over a two-day time frame. The festivals provide students with specific benefits. They have the opportunity to display their own work and to learn from established artists. The showcases also serve to promote self-esteem and the pursuit of careers in Fine Arts.
Each of the venues involves students from schools within the tribal council district. The number of students that are attracted is rising every year. Students are very enthusiastic about the entire concept. Many state that they like the chance to show their artwork or their performance skills. Many more say that they like the chance to see what their friends are doing.
The Fine Arts festival concept originated in Prince Albert about seven years ago. Organizers saw that although there was considerable talent in the schools no one was getting the opportunity to appreciate it. They saw the festival as a chance to showcase the talents of the students who often got overlooked.
The festivals showcase all divisions of students. And, the artwork and literature are judged by local people who have interests in these developing talents. "A lot of the [judges] we do have, have been coming for years," says Shona Stapleton, PAGC Fine Arts Festival Coordinator. She says that the judges tend to become involved and stay involved in promoting the artistic talents of young First Nation students.
In addition to providing a forum for showcasing their talents, the festivals offer workshops to allow students to develop new talents. In all cases, the scope of the workshops vary. Themes have included beading, leather-working and carving with alabaster. "We just try to get things that we think the kids will enjoy," says Stapleton.
The Fine Arts Festivals of BTC, PAGC and STC are all important to the students who attend. Through forums such as these, students are becoming aware of themselves, their talents and the opportunities that may await them.