MONCTON – Nine local and international artists will paint external walls in Greater Moncton for the fourth edition of Festival Inspire July 9-14. This year’s program was launched Thursday.
Conzo & Glöbel from Scotland will paint two walls in Dieppe and Memramcook with pieces that mock advertisements.
“Street art started with writing on walls, and political statements and people who didn’t have a voice getting it through painting on walls,” said festival director Lisa Griffin. “It’s important to stay on that edge. [Conzo & Globel’s pieces] just gets people to open their eyes wider. I think one of our jobs with the festival is to create conversation in public spaces.”
This year, the festival also included more female artists and local artists that are inspired to try muralism, Griffin said. Lysanne Lombard and Chelsea Gauvin of Moncton, and Gabrielle Brown from Saint John will be doing murals for the first time.
“I’ve been going to festivals in Atlantic Canada for the last five years and I just feel like every stage there’s just so many men. Our programming has always been men heavy, so this year we try to make it even,” she said.
The Festival’s team has also added new events this year. Art in The Dark, modeled after the international concept of Nuit Blanche, will include installations, and outdoor dance and theatre performances, among others. Forty-five Maritime artists will showcase their work. The popular Disco Bike Ride will be back as part of this.
Bringing installations and theatre performances outdoors makes them more accessible, the same way murals make paintings more accessible, Griffin said. The event will also use alleyways downtown to make the city feel bigger, she said.
“I’m constantly toying with the idea of what is a festival and then why have a festival. We want to celebrate the increase of colour and culture in the city, so the murals you can see them all year long. But [Art in the Dark] is just one more plus on the festival and next year you won’t want to miss it,” she said. “It’s really important too to get people downtown in creative ways.”
As with past events, a family-friendly celebration with music and an art bazaar will be held at the Riverfront Park from noon to 1 am Saturday, July 14. There will also be a colour party, an artist’s panel with the muralists, a craft beer village, and Inspire Land for children.
A 30-foot Sputnik dome will host workshops, music performances, bilingual karaoke and projection art throughout the week.
The festival will also integrate Plastic Free July into its operations after saving all the empty sprays cans from last year. They will be turned into a bar and lighting for the Sputnik.
To be more eco-friendly, Griffin said people festival attendants are invited to bring their own clothing items to be printed with the Inspire logo instead of buying merch.
“Your hat can be an Inspire hat, or your underwear or your pillowcase, whatever it is,” she said.
Entrances to all the public events are free. Only the VIP mixer is specified for sponsors and artists. But some other things will cost.
“Beer. That’s the only thing that’s not free,” Griffin said with a laugh.
The full program will be released on Festival Inspire’s website. The annual festival has put 32 murals throughout Greater Moncton over the past four years.