Art, music, culture, social media intersect at the Hintonburg Happening

By Ted Simpson –

Spring has sprung. The warmth of the sun has finally returned to us and it’s time to emerge from winter hibernation and rediscover the local scenery. Luckily for local residents, the second annual Hintonburg Happening arts festival, which will be taking place May 1 to 9, is the perfect outlet to do just that.

After a successful inaugural run, organizers Summer Baird, owner of the Hintonburg Public House, and Alisa Viner, Broadview Public School teacher, are excited for another go. The biggest change this year is the date. According to the organizers, moving from June to May creates more separation between the Happening and some of the city’s other summer festivals. Baird, however, says the goal for the festival remains the same.

Hintonburg Happening organizers Summer Baird and Alisa Viner. This year’s Happening is taking place May 1 to 9, in “real life” and online. Photo by Ted Simpson.
Hintonburg Happening organizers Summer Baird and Alisa Viner. This year’s Happening is taking place May 1 to 9, in “real life” and online. Photo by Ted Simpson.

“The whole point of the festival is to raise money for art initiatives in the neighbourhood,” says Baird. And for a brand new festival the financial support has been strong so far, coming from an impressive list of sponsors, fundraising and an Indiegogo campaign.

“By the end of the year we had money in the bank and paid off everyone who needed to be paid, it was very successful,” says Viner of last year’s event.

A new tactic the organizers are taking with this year’s Happening is with increased crowd interaction and participation, both in person and through social media. One of the great examples of this will be May 7 at the Hintonburg Public House, where artists Dan Martelock and Omar Hopkinson, photographer Petr Maur, and musician Tariq Anwar will be crowdsourcing inspiration from Twitter that will be turned into a real-time project on the spot.

“The public can tweet their idea, and then each of them are going to pick their favourite tweet and create a piece around it,” says Baird. “It’s like a live action reality show at the HPH,” adds Viner.

“Using social media to foster the community development that’s happening at that moment, it has a very instantaneous feel to it,” says Baird. They are even giving away prizes for selfies. Tag an Instagram pic taken at a Hintonburg Happening event with #Instaburg and participants could win some free stuff.

For a chance to participate in person, keep an eye out for Shawn MacDonnell’s Air Your Dirty Laundry exhibit. MacDonell was the recipient of last year’s Hintonburg Happening art grant and is currently collecting dirty little secrets. His piece will feature a different brand of audience participation: people in the neighbourhood write their secrets, struggles and fears on supplied t-shirts and underwear (bought new and clean). Once the secrets are collected they will be displayed at a number of businesses along Wellington West, then photographed and turned into a book and blog that MacDonell hopes to grow from Hintonburg to the whole city.

The closing party will return to Somerset Square with an afternoon of family friendly activities and entertainment. Later in the afternoon, the HH Art Grant Showdown will challenge nine local artists to create new work on the spot, with the audience deciding the winner of this year’s grant. The final will cap off with musical performances headlined by Hintonburg resident and Juno Award nominee Amanda Rheaume.

The festival happens nightly, mostly inside local businesses that create their own special events, and includes many locations in the Wellington West area, not just Hintonburg. The entire list of events and venues is available online at 
hintonburghappening.ca.

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