This article has been written with the support of the High Commission of Canada.
#CanadaGoesDigital: A virtual celebration of Canadian talent
- Arusa Qureshi
- 27 May 2020
The High Commission of Canada in the UK presents a programme of digital events to stay connected
As the world collectively responds to the huge negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic, those in the creative industries are doing all they can to adapt to the cancellation of events and the closure of venues, keeping audiences at home connected one way or another. From musicians hosting virtual gigs to theatre companies streaming films for free, the sense of solidarity has kept many in lockdown not only entertained, but in high spirits, providing a slice of escapism amidst the onslaught of bad news and general feelings of anxiety with which we're all struggling.
#CanadaGoesDigital is the latest example of this, as the High Commission of Canada presents a programme of digital events in celebration of Canadian talent in place of the Canada Goes Glasgow programme originally planned to take place throughout 2020. #CanadaGoesGlasgow was designed to shine a light on the incredible Canadian talent that lives within and visits the city each year. Acknowledging the musicians, writers, artists, theatre makers and more who represent creative communities across Canada, the High Commission of Canada's primary goal with this year-long programme was to promote and support Canadian artists in reaching new audiences throughout the UK, while strengthening the already close bonds we share as nations.
As a vibrant and creative hub with a plethora of popular and world-class festivals, including Celtic Connections, Glasgow Film Festival and Glasgow International, the city of Glasgow was ideal for the programme, chosen by the Government of Canada as a location that they could successfully support Canadian artists in realising their creative visions. But with the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in the cancellation or postponement of all events in the city, the High Commission has readjusted its plans, launching #CanadaGoesDigital to reinforce their support of Canadian artists and to spotlight some innovative projects and initiatives that everyone can enjoy at home.
Over the next few months, audiences will be able to enjoy a series of interactive, educational and fun events online as part of the new programme. The first big event will be an online screening of the 2018 documentary Earth: Seen From The Heart (English subtitled version of La Terre vue du coeur), which will mark World Environment Day and will be available from 6pm–10pm on Thu 4 Jun. The film, from Québec director Iolande Cadrin-Rossignol, explores the state of global biodiversity, featuring interviews with many authors, philosophers, artists, activists and scientists.
In more film-related news, Telefilm Canada will be partnering with the High Commission of Canada for this year's annual film showcase Canada Now. The showcase will feature six films on Curzon Home Cinema, opening with Atom Egoyan's 2019 drama Guest of Honour on Fri 5 Jun and alongside the films, audiences can take part in Q&As with talent from the productions.
Then, on Wed 1 Jul, the High Commission of Canada and other Canadian missions in Europe will join together to host a pan-European virtual celebration of Canada Day. So you can still get all dressed up in red and white, don your maple leaf face paint and prepare some of your favourite Canadian snacks at home, while connecting with revellers across Europe. Further information and details on Canada Day plans will be announced at culturecanada.co.uk in due course.
While the Moon Festival, which took place for the first time in Greenwich in July 2019, will not be returning this summer, the festival is proud to partner with the High Commission of Canada to invite you to the first ever iteration of a digital Canadian Moon Festival. Expect a month of digital content celebrating the brightest rock in the sky and its relevance to contemporary and historical Canadian culture, with original content as well as existing work across film, theatre, visual art and much more. Opening the festival is none other than author Margaret Atwood with a number of readings from folklore to an original, unpublished moon themed story. Watch out for #CanadianMoon on social media or subscribe to the newsletter to receive weekly boosts of lunar love kicking off on Sun 5 Jul.
Visual art enthusiasts will be pleased to hear that from May to later in summer, you'll be able to visit a virtual version of Meryl McMaster's exhibition As Immense as the Sky, which includes photographs from her latest series, As Immense as the Sky (2019) and Edge of a Moment (2017). Currently hosted by the Baldwin Gallery in London and curated by Verity Seward and Oceana Masterman-Smith, this is the first solo presentation of McMaster's work in London. Of Plains Cree, British and Dutch ancestry, McMaster's sculptural photography incorporates props, garments and performance, with the artist adopting fluid guises to explore the intersections of her Indigenous and European heritage.
The Polaris Music Prize, Canada's national music award annually given to the best full-length Canadian album, is also due to be announced this summer, with the 40-strong longlist being revealed on Mon 15 Jun and the ceremony itself streamed live around the world on Mon 21 Sep. In celebration of the prize and the announcement of the longlist and shortlist (Wed 15 Jul), four playlists have been commissioned, which draw on Polaris' 14-year history of nominees, based around four overarching themes: Indigeneity in Music; Francophone; Gender and Sexual Identity; and New Frequencies -the coming together of different genres, cultural identities, languages in the various ways that happens in a multicultural society. The playlists will be released throughout June and will be accompanied by useful context and information around the theme.
#CanadaGoesDigital is all about staying connected via the arts, all while commending some of the great Canadian talent currently out there. Though these are just some of the events to be announced, there is much more still to come. So stay tuned, use the #CanadaGoesDigital hashtag on social media and, when the time comes, join in these brilliant virtual celebrations from the comfort of your sofa.