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Talent time

Simpson plans festival

Michele LeTourneau
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Jan 15/01) - There's so much talent in Fort Simpson that a group of arts-minded people have decided to launch an arts festival.

This development comes soon after the formation of an arts society called Open Sky.

"About a year ago we started meeting as a group, and we wanted to incorporate as a society to promote and develop artists in the Deh Cho region," says artist and Open Sky member Tonya Makletzoff.

The name Open Sky was chosen to reflect the all-inclusive nature of the group.

"We don't want to turn away anybody who has talent," says Makletzoff.

The group of about 10 artists, encouraged by tourism officer Gerde Fricke, then began working on the idea of a festival.

Planned for July 1, the festival will include all the arts, aural, visual, traditional and non-traditional. It will kick off on the last day of June with a concert on the outdoor stage at the papal site. A recently formed drama group will also perform at the festival.

"It's still in the planning stages," says Makletzoff, who is also a member of the group.

"We have a lot of talent in the Deh Cho," explains Makletzoff. "Nobody's ever gotten everybody together."

Makletzoff says July is an ideal time for the event because it's "the peak of the season for river tours and people who are driving through."

The organizers, who include local businesspeople and other supporters of the arts, hope to launch a logo contest for the festival.

"And I want all the crafts people in the Deh Cho to get going on their stuff and join us."

Artists will not be charged for display tables.

"We want to try this and see if it will work. And if it does, next year we'll really go for it."

Open Sky has another big dream: to operate a community studio space.