Waterloo Arts Collective: alternative for local performers

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“Groups like F’n’M or Musical Theatre Laurier or open mic night, they’re all great organizations ⎯ we’ve both done them, loved them ⎯ but you can’t really do your own thing and really assert your own artistry,” said third-year student Amy Grief about performing arts organizations at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Interested in the arts scene beyond the campus bubble, third-year Wilfrid students Ali Connerty and Amy Grief have founded Waterloo Arts Collective (WAC) to establish a voice for emerging performers within the community.
Although Connerty and Grief have both participated in and enjoyed performing arts outlets at Laurier, the two found that these organizations couldn’t always satisfy individual expression.

“I’m not a music major, but it was something that I did all throughout high school and I kind of just stopped. The musical theatre at Laurier is not really my style. It’s just not for me,” revealed Grief.

“I did F’n’M and I loved it but it’s also not my scene either,” added Connerty.
Sparked from a project that Connerty and Grief worked on together in arts management course BU461T, WAC invites emerging artists from multiple disciplines to perform at different venues throughout Kitchener-Waterloo.

“It’s just giving a space to performing artists to showcase what they’re working on, and what they do and what they’re passionate about,” explained Connerty.

Waterloo Arts Collective’s first event will be this Thursday Mar. 1 in The Jazz Room at the Huether Hotel, showcasing 8 performances between 8:00-11:00p.m. Five dollars will cover access to the performances and appetizers.

According to Grief the performers will be mostly contemporary singer-songwriters, however, one group will perform a dance piece and another will sing musical theatre and jazz.

“The performing arts are what you bring to us. The performing arts can be anything, they really can, so it’s just about being passionate about it and proving why it is a performing art,” said Connerty.

Stephen Preece, the instructor for BU461T and president of the Grand River Jazz Society instigated WAC’s use of The Jazz Room.

“It would just be great to get the student energy into the city,” explained Preece, emphasizing that student integration into the community’s arts scene would be mutually beneficial.

“There’s a great cultural scene, it would be great to get a cross-flow of that going. It would be great for the city and it would be great for the students too.”
Second-year sociology student Patrick Schraeder who will be playing at WAC’s first event, supported the idea of performing an Uptown venue, “We’ll be playing in front of our friends and students and stuff but this allows the public to come in too.”

Waterloo Arts Collective aims to host each event at a different venue for greater exposure within the community.

“It opens this up not just to Laurier performing arts but to all of Waterloo… We can all connect with each other and find each other at different shows or jam out with each other,” Schraeder continued.

Playing in The Jazz Room offers performers a venue equipped with professional sound and lighting and various instruments including a grand piano.

“We have a sound and lighting guy doing all the stuff. People just need to literally bring their instruments and themselves, they have full mics, a full grand piano, a full set of drums, everything is at their disposal,” said Connerty.

Second-year music major Danielle Robert will be utilizing the space on Thursday, expecting to use strings in combination with the grand piano for her performance.

“My favourite thing that I’m going to be playing is my new song… it’s called ‘Until Morning’ and I wrote a cello part for the first time,” commented Robert.
Robert and Schraeder are two of 14 students expected to perform on Thursday. Out of the 14, eight will be paid from a $400 grant for emerging artists donated by The Jazz Room.

Additional event costs have been covered by the Council for the Intellectual and Cultural Development of the Arts, to which Connerty and Grief hope to apply to for future grants.

Preece acknowledged that although Connerty and Grief may have to smooth out ideas as they go along, he hopes to see Waterloo Arts Collective expand, “I think their ideas are still percolating and they’ll learn as they go, that’s the nature of the beast, but I really applaud them for kind of jumping in.”

“The more we can just get live arts out there, I think the better.”

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