With major art events like Open Space’s Pub(lic) Crawl, the Moss Street Paint-In, and Artlandia, local art enthusiasts have a busy schedule in the summer. But one can’t-miss event is the Integrate Arts Festival, a free art crawl happening August 15 and 16. In its eighth year, this festival highlights over 29 local art galleries, artist-run centres, and pop-up galleries. As Integrate Art Society Director Zahra Stark explains, “The idea behind it is the plurality of spaces, and our emphasis is on the transportation of people from place to place.”
This year, the festival begins with an opening reception at 6 p.m. at the event’s headquarters, located on 1501 Douglas St. The party is planned to be a boisterous and lively affair, supported with local artwork, musicians, and, especially, beer by donation. This year, both kids and adults will even be encouraged to make their own artwork with chalk.
After the reception, the art crawl will begin at 7:30 p.m. The festival suggests that participants walk, bike, or take the free Hop-On, Hop-Off bus to the various locations around the city.
“I think we have a tendency to stay in one place because of your friends or there is great art at that location that you love,” says Stark, “but there is something really unique about comparing all the spaces and finding that busker or art installation in between — that is all a part of the festival too.”
To encourage the movement of festival attendants this year, Integrate is using a passport system, where people can stamp their map at each destination and turn it in for a prize.
The festival continues on the Saturday morning with a bike tour, which begins at Integrate’s headquarters (1501 Douglas St.) at 10 a.m. and finishes at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) at 3 p.m. This tour will provide a family-friendly day, with a free admission to the AGGV, snacks, and a magic show, as well as a chance to broaden one’s perspective to more than just art from the downtown core. The day will end with an afterparty hosted by the Fifty Fifty Arts Collective at the Copper Owl at 9 p.m. For $10, attendees can enjoy four bands, ranging from the local space pop ensemble, Ghosts, to the Italian psychedelic electronic group, Japanese Gum.
For those interested in more than just attending, helping hands are still needed for the festival.
“We are very dependent on volunteers,” Stark affirms, “Our committee is made up with about 10 volunteers, and it wouldn’t happen without them, as well as the others who give up their time and effort.”
All in all, the Integrate Arts Festival offers a chance to not only visit the city’s art galleries, but also to be a part of Victoria’s culture. Filled with art, music, food, and dancing, Integrate provides a sense of adventure as you move around the galleries, discovering new and unfamiliar works of art. As Stark expresses, “I love how, after the excitement of the opening party, everyone gets to have their own experience of the arts in Victoria.”
Keen art-lovers, students, or community supporters can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further opportunities.