Friday, 19 February 2016

Prepare To Be Amazed With Some WinterPLAY Magic!

Prepare To Be Amazed With Some WinterPLAY Magic!

Come one, come all to see the street performer and busker extraordinaire, Nikolai Smith! This familiar WinterPLAY personality – who you may remember from last year’s Festival as the renaissance jester – is back to wow you once again in 2016 with his juggling, sleight of hand and roving entertainment. Nikolai’s comedic, interactive and energetic performance makes him one of Alberta’s most sought-after festival entertainers and a Fort McMurray fan-favourite.

With a full weekend line-up, you can be sure to see Nikolai’s act on the following dates and times:
·         Friday, February 19 @ 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
·         Saturday, February 20 @ 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
·         Sunday, February 21 @ 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

One aspect of Nikolai’s performance that makes his show so fun to attend is that he often needs members from the audience to be his assistant to help complete his tricks. For kids who want to be selected, (and for parents who want to avoid the limelight), Nikolai offered up one secret to improve your chances at getting picked, (or for parents, getting looked over): SIT UP FRONT! That’s right adult viewers, if you think hanging out in the back row will keep you out of the performance, Nikolai said that’s his favourite area to pull parents from to engage in the show. So don’t be shy when attending a Nikolai show: get up close, prepare to be amazed and get ready to shout ABRACADABRA!

For more information on Nikolai Smith, check out his website at:  

Dan Gillies Performs at the 2016 WinterPLAY Festival

Dan Gillies is no stranger to the Wood Buffalo community – especially if you attended last year’s – 2015 Western Canada Summer Games Opening Ceremony- having performed at countless festivals, private events and bars since 2008. He’s known for his jazzy instrumental performances, but at this year’s WinterPLAY Festival you’re in store for a very different Dan Gillies than you’ve seen in the past.

On Friday, February 19, 2016 from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. you can expect to hear the likes of the Goo Goo Dolls, Foo Fighters and a plethora of Big Shiny Tunes 2 artists thanks to Dan’s 90s rock-inspired set-list! With his hair down and a more rock-inspired look, you might be caught doing a double take, half thinking you’re seeing Dave Grohl himself on the stage.

Being collaborative and sampling from different genres is what’s kept Dan’s career thriving. He says that being versatile and willing to try new things is what has allows him to capitalize on so many different performance opportunities. While he considers himself primarily a strings man, he does own a set of bagpipes (though rumour has it they won’t be making an appearance anytime soon in one of his performances). Dan’s new “rock show” set is the culmination of a pet project idea that started about a year ago and one that he’s been testing out at a variety of events since then. It’s very exciting to have Dan perform at WinterPLAY again and he couldn’t be more excited to continue to share this new vibe of his with the RMWB community.

So whether you’re a long-time fan of 90s era music or just looking to have a music-filled Friday night out, but sure to check out Dan’s set at 7 p.m.!

For more information on Dan Gillies music, please check out his website:

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

WinterPLAY Snow Art Challenge - Come Play in the Snow!

Whether you consider yourself an artist or not, this year’s WinterPLAY Snow Art Challenge is sure to get your creative juices flowing. Taking place on Saturday, February 20 and Sunday, February 21 – on the hill beside the Snye – WinterPLAYers are invited to contribute to this year’s first ever community art mural!

Local artist Sonia Burke-Smith, who runs the Boreal Artist Institute, is the Wood Buffalo resident responsible for bringing the Snow Art activity to WinterPLAY 2016. She and other artists from the Boreal Art Institute will be on site from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. each day to help, encourage, guide and inspire all participants to make the mural.

Brushes and spray bottles will be given to participants to create their masterpieces. Whether you use stencils or let your own artistic creativity guide you, the goal of this WinterPLAY activity is to create a free-flowing art piece with no parameters. The end result will be a physical representation of our community’s diverse culture, our Northern Spirit and our residents’ collective voice. The added bonus of this activity is that it will live on long past the festival. Community members can re-visit the piece and see its many changing phases until spring rolls into Wood Buffalo and the last colourful drop of snow melts away.

For those who may be worried about the Snow Art Activity’s environmental impact, do not fear! Food colouring will be used so as not to harm or disrupt the area.

Lastly, the whole event is sponsored by KAOS! All participants are eligible to enter into the draw, where at the end of the weekend three lucky winners will be selected at random to win an amazing Art themed gift basket.

Be sure to check out this colourful event and make your artistic contribution to our community art project!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The First Kiss and Other Rites of Passage

February 11, 2016. Reel Girls Media’s new documentary series, The First Kiss And Other Rites Of Passage launches this February 11, 2016. All ten episodes were filmed in Edmonton, Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie and will be offered for free on demand on TELUS Optik ™ TV On Demand.

Do you remember buying your first car, moving out of home for the first time, losing your virginity, your first heartbreak, maybe even that first drink? These rites of passage help shape who we are and mark important transitions in our journey through life.  These memories are universally experienced and at the same time deeply personal.  Firsts are crucial moments that mark milestones in life.  Firsts cover a huge range of human experiences, comic to tragic, from the shameful to the sublime.  The First Kiss and other Rites of Passage is a ten-part short documentary series that explores these shared human narratives through intimate interviews.  

The idea for the series dates back to a casual conversation where over a glass or two of wine, a few friends shared stories about first kisses and losing our virginity,” recalls series creator/producer/director, Ava Karvonen.  “I remember the pressures I felt as a teenager and wanted to know about the experiences other people had and to see if they were that different from my own.”

To personalize the process even more, Ava included interviews with the crew in the series. After all, she says, “If we were going to ask strangers about their personal first experiences, then it was only fair to turn the camera on ourselves.”

As filming progressed an underlying theme emerged about the universality of the human experience. No matter where we come from or what our background is, we all go through some of the same rites of passage.

The production interviewed more than fifty people between the ages of sixteen and eighty. The stories told were just as diverse as the people who told them including Fort McMurray Councilor Tyran Ault. When asked about his First Job, Tyran Ault said,My first job was at McDonald’s… McDonald’s is probably one of the best jobs anyone can have at an entry level. It’s super stressful, and you learn a lot about the way business works very, very fast.” Richard Lukacs tells the story about losing his virginity as a young man. “I was like, ‘Wow, that’s it?’ It just feels weird. Like that’s exactly the same as beer and cigarettes. I just don’t know what people like about them. But I learned what’s good about all these things ever since, so yeah, I learned to like it.”
The First Kiss and other Rites of Passage was produced by Ava Karvonen and Reel Girls Media, with the support of a community programming grant from TELUS Optik Local and the assistance of the Government of Alberta, Alberta Media Fund.

REEL GIRLS MEDIA is known for creating smart, original and innovative entertainment designed for flexible multi-platform delivery to the global market. Reel Girls Media projects have had more than 80 worldwide screenings and been recognized with more than 40 international awards including Best Original Cross-Platform Content at the Alliance for Children and TV Awards, Best Convergent New Media at the CFTPA Indie Awards, and the Japan Prize. For more information go to

About TELUS Optik Local
Telus Optik Local Community Programming seeks to support programming and projects that reflect the local community, a diversity of voices, innovative ideas and alternative views on existing or emerging issues of importance in the communities it serves, featuring local places and events in arts, culture, education and sports.

Media Kit  and trailer available from the website at:

Facebook Page:
Twitter: @FirstKissTV

For more information, interview requests or artwork contact:
Ava Karvonen, Reel Girls Media Inc.

Phone: (780) 964-1899                      

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Art Volunteer Positions

Beat those winter blues with art & volunteering opportunities! See below for submission deadlines & volunteering information.

FuseSocial’s 5th Annual Wood Buffalo Timeraiser Open Call
The 2016 Wood Buffalo Timeraiser’s digital submission deadline is February 22nd! Don’t miss out on a chance to sell your artwork at full price, showcase your artwork in the gallery space and take part in the Silent Auction during the opening reception!
For more information. You can also contact Katie Loutitt at


Volunteers for School Visits Program
Spring School Visit Program runs from Monday to Friday by appointments between 9:30AM and 2:30PM during March and April. This art program is for school kids Kindergarten to Grade 6. If you are interested in helping out, please contact

Artist Interested in Instructing Art Workshops

Do you want to share your passion for art with others? Do you have an idea for a visual art project that can be completed in a 4 hour workshop that you would like to teach and share with other adults interested in art? If so, please contact