Posted February 6, 2009
Culture & Art

by Victoria Lord

Biennial arts festivals poised to attract record numbers in 2009!

Waterloo Region – As the world braces for a year fraught with economic uncertainty and an inevitable shift in how we live our lives, one Ontario community is taking bold steps to protect its cultural heartbeat. The Waterloo Region is widely regarded as the Silicon Valley of the North, and a closer look at this vibrant community reveals that the entrepreneurial spirit that is its cornerstone also fuels one of the most unique cultural collectives in the country where internationally recognized, contemporary art flourishes. Through a joint initiative supported by a motivated group of business and arts leaders, the region which encompasses Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge, will host a number of innovative arts events that are expected to draw more than 40,000 arts enthusiasts to the tri-city area over the coming year.

“There is tremendous artistic growth in the region,” explains Martin de Groot, Executive Director of the Waterloo Regional Arts Council. “We are not unlike other communities across the country who are adjusting to the changing economic climate, but we as a community are united in our commitment to foster growth and establish Waterloo Region’s reputation as a leading centre where innovative, thought-provoking and significant cultural events take place.”

From April 24th through May 3rd, OPEN EARS FESTIVAL OF MUSIC AND SOUND, a cutting edge biennial music festival, takes to the streets of Waterloo Region with one of its most daring programs to date. A project of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, OPEN EARS is one of Canada’s most important new music festivals. Audiences from across North America flock to the region to partake in what has come to be known as an eclectic celebration of listening; with interactive programming such as guided soundwalks, electroacousitc performance art, sound poetry, as well as musical performances staged in concert halls and alternative venues alike. Previous guest composers and performers have included international artists like Brian Eno, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and Canadian R. Murray Schafer. This year’s program will continue to push the boundaries of the art of sound with festival highlights that include rare musical pairings such as Eve Egoyan a and David Rokeby’s debut of a newly commissioned work for Disklavier and interactive audio and video, as well as Lou Harrison world premiere of A Word for Music. Early-Bird passes for the Open Ears Festival are now on sale, for more information please visit

In its 10-year history CAFKA (Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener & Area) has grown from a grassroots festival to a multidisciplinary, tech savvy event featuring groundbreaking visual art offerings from both local and internationally renowned contemporary artists. Solidly supported by local galleries, studios and artist run centres, these dynamic installations are peppered throughout Waterloo Region’s public spaces in effort to engage and challenge the arts community and public alike. This year CAFKA calls on the world’s best installation artists to reflect on Veracity, an evocative theme which will feature an epic work by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer housed in the new Waterloo Town Square. CAFKA 2009: Veracity is sponsored by Waterloo-based Christie Digital, a world-leader in digital projection technology whose innovations include the world's brightest true HD video projectors, and who were largely responsible for the breath-taking multi-media presentations at the recent Beijing Olympics’ opening ceremony. All 2009 CAFKA programs are offered free to the public from September through October 2009. To learn more about CAFKA please visit

“One of the most exciting elements of each biennial CAFKA presentation is its ability to reach across socio-economic barriers and draw audiences from every spectrum of the community” says Artistic Director Rob Ring. “Waterloo Region’s urban landscape is an ideal setting for a multimedia arts festival of this kind, but it is the overwhelming willingness of our local audiences to embrace new ideas which challenge contemporary ways of thinking and interacting, that gives this homegrown event its unique flavour.”

IMPACT, a biennial international theatre festival organized by The MT Space is already making waves in this, its first time launching a full-fledged festival. Built on The MT Space’s notoriety for progressive productions, IMPACT will showcase national and international cultural works that offer less verbal forms of theatrical performance in the form of physical and dance theatre or multimedia spectacles. Artistic Director Majdi Bou-Matar’s vision is to create a festival that will effectively overcome language barriers and facilitate the communication of cultural, social, philosophical and artistic concepts. IMPACT 09 takes place from September 24th through October 3rd, 2009 and offers a unique opportunity for cultural exchange with a wide network of like-minded events across the globe. Further details can be found by visiting

Renowned for its educational institutions, and widely regarded as Canada’s technology capital, Waterloo Region offers learning opportunities beyond the walls of its institutions, through attendance, engagement and participation in a wide variety of arts and culture events hosted throughout the region. The growth of art and culture within the Waterloo Region continues to be a source of pride and inspiration for many of its citizens. The many cultural events of 2009 mark a new departure to re-imagine the region as an emerging cultural contender whose ambition is matched by its phenomenal success in the technology sector. Through its art, Waterloo Region celebrates the new, the unexpected, the diverse and the subversive – and is undoubtedly a forward thinking community poised for transformation.

© Copyright 2009/Exchange Morning Post/Exchange Business Communications Inc.
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