There is always something to do in Wood Buffalo, with an array of arts activities and events people can enjoy, whether this is home or just a visit. This overview will provide a starting point for exploring the many arts and culture experiences available, but isn’t a comprehensive list – the opportunities are seemingly endless while our pages here are limited! Read on, and be prepared to be inspired to engage with, practice, and purchase the arts!
Engage with the Arts
Fort McMurray is home to a vibrant theatre scene, boasting three state-of-the-art stages: Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts (SECPA) Black Box Theatre, and Keyano Theatre & Arts Centre (KTC) Main Stage and Recital Theatre. KTC’s Recital Theatre was built with special acoustics to optimize live music performances in particular.
KTC features a number of different types of performances, from headliners such as Colin James Blues Trio to Toronto International Film Festival offerings to the upcoming stage play production of Mama Mia. The 4-Play Drama Series and Syncrude Arts Alive programs consistently offer visitors and residents quality live performance experiences.
Visual art classes for adults and youth, community bands, dance classes, and a Youth Play Production program can all be accessed at SECPA. This community cultural hub also hosts a number of community events in their facility including the annual Waypoints Dinner Theatre fundraiser. Theatre; Just Because, Fort McMurray’s independent theatre company, which runs a number of youth-oriented activities as well, creates this amazing dinner theatre in partnership with Waypoints. The multi-talented team behind T;JB can also be found gracing the stages at KTC, with music, dance, acting, comedy, and more!
To see visual art in our region, it’s best to get outdoors! There are a number of murals, decorative traffic-wraps, and even the street banners lining Franklin Avenue and Confederation Way. The TOTAL Aboriginal Interpretive Trail, located at the opening to MacDonald Island Park, features seven large-scale sculptures inspired by the Indigenous 7-Teachings, created by Western Canadian artists, two from Wood Buffalo. Peeking out from the trees lining this beautiful, riverside trail are 28 slightly larger-than-life fox sculptures, each uniquely painted by local artists and school groups.
When the weather takes a turn, head indoors to the Suncor Community Leisure Centre Kirschner Family Community Art Gallery, featuring a variety of artwork installations from local and travelling exhibits. Keyano Theatre & Art Centre also has a gallery which showcases artwork created from SECPA’s community youth programs, as well as that of independent local artists.
Want to ‘get your band on’ and listen to some local music? Check out: Tavern On Main, East Village Pub, Live Bar & Grill, Boomtown Casino, Blackhorse Pub, Sociables, Wood Buffalo Brewing Company, and more.
Fort McMurray Heritage Village and the Marine Park Museum each provide a glimpse into the history of our region in these family friendly, newly renovated and constructed heritage sites. The Bicentennial Museum located in Fort Chipewyan is a replica of the Hudson’s Bay Store. Opened by the Fort Chipewyan Historical Society in 1990, it was built to commemorate Fort Chipewyan’s 200th birthday in 1988 and features displays and exhibits depicting Fort Chipewyan’s past. Along with a growing collection of artifacts, the museum houses an archive for papers, photos and slides, and a small reference library. The museum operates cultural classes and participates in community events in the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the Province of Alberta.
Practice the Arts
Getting creative doing hands-on activities can be a rewarding and educational experience. In addition to the Adult and Youth learning available at Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts (SECPA), the Suncor Community Leisure Centre at MacDonald Island Park runs dance and visual art classes for all ages.
The Fort McMurray Potters’ Guild, housed in the Casman Centre, takes members through all the stages of learning how to create beautiful pottery from pinch pots to wheel throwing to glazing and firing. Not ready to get your hands muddy? Try Colour Me Mine – readymade ceramics you can paint to suit.
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has updated their Artist In Residency program to be able to engage more participants, and has expanded it to offer immersive Master Class learning. This program runs through the summer months starting in June and ending early September.
McMurray Metis invites residents in to learn about beading and Cree language. For something more private, there are a number of Independent artists that teach out of their homes and studios: music, singing, drawing, and more. Many of these artists can be found through Arts Council Wood Buffalo’s online artist directory or Facebook.
Unsure of your artistic abilities but still want to be involved with the arts? Think about volunteering. Keyano Theatre Company exists for, and because of, their volunteers. Learn all aspects of theatre production from back of house to centre stage to customer engagement in their beautiful theatres.
Stay connected to the art community by becoming an Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) member. For $20 a year, members receive discounts to events, value added shopping experiences through our Local Business Discount program, a monthly e-newsletter highlighting events and opportunities, one-on-one arts consultation services, and more! ACWB also has volunteer opportunities throughout the year, including our Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards & Showcase event, held annually in October.
Purchase the Arts
Purchase visual art, or literary works, or book local performers, as a treat for yourself or as an opportunity to wow the recipient of these thoughtful gifts.
There are a variety of stores in town that showcase local visual artists including: Heritage Village Gift Shop, Oil Sands Discovery Centre Gift Shop, Points North Gallery, The Art Foundry at River Station, Chocolates & Candlelight, and Coles the Book People.
Perhaps you have an artist on your shopping list and don’t know what to get them. Visual art supplies can be purchased locally at Wee Bounce Art Supplies; check out Spotlight Performance Wear for the dancer in your life; Kathy’s Fiber Arts & Crafts for the quilters and crafters; Campbell’s Music for your musician friends and family; tickets from Keyano Theatre & Arts Centre for those who enjoy a variety of theatrical, dance, comedy, and musical performances.
Why not surprise your loved ones with the gift of a photography session, music lessons, art workshops, or theatre training? Are your friends and co-workers tired of the same entertainment at your parties and work events? Our community boasts puppet artists, balloon artists, improv artists, a myriad of cultural dancers and singers – almost any type of arts and culture activity you can imagine can be sourced locally. Think creatively and instead of movie tickets, purchase theatre tickets!
To quote from an unknown author: “When you buy something from an artist, you’re buying more than an object (or a video, or a book, or a story). You’re buying hundreds of hours of errors and experimentation. You’re buying years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You’re not buying just one thing, you are buying a piece of a heart, a piece of a soul. A small piece of someone else’s life.”
Arts Council Wood Buffalo is your connection to artists and arts businesses in our region: through our online Artist Directory; via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 587.674.1625.
If you would like to connect with our local arts community, or learn more about Arts Council Wood Buffalo programs and services, visit: artscouncilwb.ca.