Six Questions for Lory MacDonald

Lory MacDonald, Artfest KingstonLory MacDonald is an Artist, Designer and Artfest Ontario show producer. Her art career is diverse, creating beautiful things, inspiring and promoting artists of all ages, teaching art and selling her art pieces across Canada the USA.

Working in acrylic & mixed media Lory explores imagery, textures and design on a variety of surfaces. Her style is colourful, playful and rich in texture. Lory’s current work is derived from her drawings depicting imaginary worlds, trees, landscapes, flora and fauna, combining her life’s work as an artist and craft artist.

Lory also founded The Magic of Children in the Arts Show.

1. Tell us about yourself, your background with respect to visual and the performing arts and how you came to be involved in Artfest Kingston?

My career in the arts has been diverse and exciting. Primarily I am an artist and currently focus on acrylic mixed media painting. However, I also spent many years working as an artisan and selling my work at art and craft shows, galleries and gift shops throughout North America as Harriet Spot Designs.

Seven years ago I began organizing/producing outdoor art and craft shows, initially working for Donald Nausbaum as his assistant. When he passed away in 2010, I bought the rights from his wife and began producing the three art shows held at the Historic Distillery District.

Last year Joan MacGrath retired from producing Fanfayr in Kingston. She gave me the opportunity to take over so I jumped at the chance to produce a show in Kingston.

2. As the Producer of Artfest Kingston, what does your job entail? Since assuming the position, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced and successes you’ve helped realize?

The work I do for Artfest Kingston draws on many different skills. Some of them more challenging for me than others! My primary focus is searching out and booking talented artists and artisans from across Ontario & Quebec, and specifically the Kingston area. This includes attending many festivals year round, talking to artists, collecting their contact information and promoting the show. This is the fun part of my job. Handling tons of information from about 500 artists including their show applications, communications, the jurying process and payments is a big part of my job, and at times the not-so-fun part!

The job also includes organizing show set-up plans, the equipment. Hiring, training and scheduling staff and volunteers is another component. Working with the City of Kingston and meeting all the by-law requirements is also one of the challenges. But I have to say, that the city has been amazingly helpful and supportive through every step. Especially Lynn Grivitch, the event booking facilitator and Kevin Pickell from the licensing and bylaw office.

The graphic design and branding for all Artfest advertising and promotion is another one of my jobs. I love doing this part. I also do all of the work and updating on the website, Artfest Blog, and the social marketing i.e., Facebook and Twitter.

Believe it or not, this is just a partial list, but I don’t want to bore you reading it all! Let’s just say that there is a lot to do.

My biggest success is that the show even happened at all last year. I only had 6 months to create the entire event in a new city and that was a huge challenge! Luckily I have a great relationship with many of the artists and artisans who believed in me and wanted to see Fanfayr continue. They were skeptical, understandingly, about moving the show to City Park and renaming it. However, the risk was worth it. Hundreds of people, mostly from Kingston, dropped by the information tent to express their thanks and support for moving it to this beautiful venue.

3. Aside from the name change, what makes Artfest Kingston different from Fanfayr? What big changes can people expect this year, and what direction do you see the festival heading in the next few years?

The main difference between the two events is the ability to have enhanced arts programming at the show. At the new location we have space for exciting activities for attendees to participate in. My background and experience running Artventure, a children’s art program and the non-profit organization the Magic of Children in the Arts has shown me the importance of building cultural awareness and exposure at the grass roots level. Many of the young adults who participated in my events as kids, are still actively involved and attend festivals etc. and that’s why the programming will include engaging activities for all ages.

As Artfest moves into the future, there are plans to expand the partnerships and collaborations we have already created within the city and to add more arts programming. We are planning on adding a theatrical component, installation art, more music and expand the young adult Art Stars program.

4. You’ve stated that your goal for the festival is “to to create interesting art experiences for all ages”. How have you attempted to program a festival that appeals to such a diverse audience? What can first time attendees expect?

The 2013 Artfest event features include 140 Artists & Artisans from across Ontario and Quebec exhibiting their beautiful pottery, glass, wood, jewellery, clothing, paintings, photography, sculptures and more at the 3-day show.

Artfest Kids Activity Centre: free scheduled art workshops, a drop-in art & craft area and a toddler’s creativity pod (registration recommended).  Additionally on Saturday morning at 10:30 am The Kingston Library Storytime team is presenting a special bilingual Stories in the Park with stories, songs and rhymes programming for families.  A quiet area for parents and kids is also on-site to relax, read books, nurse and rest. Available from Saturday afternoon onwards.

International Foodfest area: Artfest Kingston is excited to announce an international food area that will offer a varied selection of cuisine to tempt our hungry patrons. Every successful and thriving festival has an amazing food area. The Artfest team has worked hard to attract 12 of the best local restaurants to the show in 2013. We have also added a shaded rest and sitting area in which you may take a break and enjoy your meal. Bon appetite!

Celebrate Canada Mural Project: Artfest Kingston has added a program feature that will invite ALL Kingstonians and visitors to Kingston to roll up their sleeves and contribute. An 80’ mural with a Canada Day theme will be created in City Park by any and all who wish to participate. This example of inclusive art creation will be a unique experience for all ages. Guest mural artist Arthur 11 will be in town to lead the project. He will establish a number of central imagery areas and guide the public to add their artistic skills to the projects completion. No previous art experience necessary! Sponsored by Tr-Art.

Live Music: Rob Carnegie Band (Saturday), Enriquez Lopez (all weekend), The Gertrudes (Monday Canada Day).  We are still looking for a few fill in music acts.

Twisted Circus Performing Artists: Circus Arts performer Erin Ball will dazzle us with her acrobatic skills using silks, hoops and more. Try it out yourself in one of her mini-workshops taking place all weekend long.

5. With over 140 artists and artisans participating in Artfest Kingston, can you comment on the challenges involved in the selection process? What factored into solidifying a lineup that showcases potters, glass blowers, painters, photographers, chefs and an 80 foot community mural creation?

Yes. There are many challenges encountered in the selection process for the festival. The festival has a very inclusive approach to the event, however we need to keep the quality at an excellent level. To accomplish this, for example, we created a partnership with the Kingston Arts Council for the Art Stars program. This enables two young artists embarking on their careers and recognizing their talent to participate in the show. Additionally we partnered with Karen Pepercorn’s group Kingston Centre for Art & Design who have a large tent highlighting her alumni art students.

6. How helpful has the local community been in supporting this years festival? How many local artists and talents are you showcasing this year? Who are you most excited to see and why?

The Kingston community has embraced Artfest and supported us in many ways. Last year we produced the show on a very small budget. This motivated us to create many necessary partnerships in order for the event to succeed.

In 2013 with the assistance of Al Hearn, my program manager who grew up in Kingston, we have made many new alliances in the city. Additionally, we were successful with our grant application and received a Celebrate Ontario Grant this year, which has enabled us to present free fantastic family programming at Artfest.

We have many local artists, artisans, musicians, volunteers, staff and suppliers from the Kingston area. About 50% of the exhibitors are from the Kingston and surrounding area.  The Kingston area has a very strong arts and culture scene. There are many top-notch artists exhibiting at Artfest this year, including:

  • Robert Aucoin from Iron Art: gorgeous metal belt buckles with dazzling patinas.
  • Brian Mantrop: a visionary leader of photographic hands-on experimental art techniques -before photoshop.
  • Steve Lawrence: a pioneer in the area of working with fractals (mathematical patterns) and transforming them into art.
  • Jef Brown: a local favorite potter with a huge following. The number of coordinated practical pieces in his repertoire keeps collectors returning again and again.
  • Devine Jewellery: From the Ottawa area is an Artfest favorite who does all of our shows. Their stunning jewellery designs using gold, silver and gems are not to be missed. Lovely people too!
  • Leonard Skinner: an experienced painter with a never-ending curiosity for artistic explorations. Capturing the spirit in landscapes, still life, and abstracts. He does it all well!
  • Ken Waller Woodcrafts and Wood Eternal, both from the area turn wood into magical practical items. I love touching the smooth finished wood.

I am very excited about the festival and I invite everyone to come down and enjoy all Artfest Kingston has to offer!

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