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Muskoka Chatauqua

Festival presents a much-needed mix of creativity and conversation

In the wake of a global catastrophe, the time is ripe for creativity, curiosity and celebration. And what better place to do it than overlooking the lake in Muskoka?

That was the case in the 1920s and it’s certainly true again today, as Muskoka Chautauqua prepares to present an innovative showcase of art and ideas.

“This is something we all need, and we are so excited to be able to connect artists and art-lovers,” says Gary Froude, who runs Muskoka Chautauqua along with his partner, Gayle Dempsey.

Muskoka Chautauqua was first established in 1921, and for many years writers, performers, and visual artists flocked to Muskoka to create, explore, and exchange ideas.

Gayle, Gary, and their team have built on that legacy. This year’s festival takes place August 6 to 15. “We don’t know what the COVID rules will be by then, but we are prepared for just about anything,” says Gayle.

The 30-plus events on the schedule include an astonishing array of performances, conversations, and opportunities to create, including:

• The Toronto All-Star Big Band performing a boat-in concert on the dock in Windermere

• Yoga and meditation every morning accompanied by live classical music

• A four-night film screening series curated by the Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival

• Themed panel discussions and literary events

• Live performances of classical, blues, opera, folk, and jazz

• Workshops and shows by visual artists in media ranging from print-making to textiles to plein-air painting.

Muskoka Chautauqua has always been about conversation, ideas, and community, and this year will be no exception.

“We’ll have lectures and talks every afternoon,” says Gary. “There’s an author’s panel, a talk about the roaring 20s, and a talk about creating an arts community in a rural area.” That last one will feature Zita Cobb, the entrepreneur who helped transform Fogo Island, Newfoundland, into a cultural hub.

All events will take place in and around historic Windermere village, and tickets (by donation) are available at www.MuskokaChautauqua.com.

“Thanks to the generosity of private donors, sponsors, and government support including FedNor, we’re able to offer everything this year as pay-what-you-can events,” says Gayle. “It’s a way of helping to build the community, supporting the artists, and giving everyone access to something we all desperately need after the past year.”

www.MuskokaChautauqua.com

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