Art Beat: Folk Music Ontario Outreach

Connecting artists, students, and community during the annual Folk Music Ontario conference

Definition of Outreach

The act of reaching out; the extending of services or assistance beyond current or usual limits. (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, 2012)

Definition of Art Beat

An opportunity for performers who are registered delegates at the annual Folk Music Ontario conference to ‘extend’ and ‘reach out’ to the host community. Performers act as volunteers by donating intimate, acoustic one-hour performances in local schools, seniors’ residences and long term health-care facilities.

Old Man Luedecke with banjo in classroom

Why Art Beat?
Folk music is ultimately about expression, reflection, creativity and community. What better way to embrace the roots of folk music during the Folk Music Ontario conference than to volunteer an hour of time with students and local residents who might not otherwise have an opportunity to hear, learn, discover, and connect with our musical community?

What kind of performances does Art Beat offer?
The primary focus of the program is to offer performances which are enjoyable and engage the audience in a live, acoustic music experience. Some Art Beat performances feature content ranging from the art of songwriting to ethnic folk dancing; from traditional story-telling to guitar techniques. The common connection is folk music in its many forms. This program is a voluntary service and no fee is charged to any of the schools or organizations that are chosen to host a concert. The concerts are primarily acoustic, except in rare circumstances where the artist and venue arrange for amplification. FMO does not provide sound equipment.

Other information
This opportunity is open to all registered delegates of the 2018 Folk Music Ontario conference. FMO will match Art Beat participants with a small audience at a shelter, hospice, school or community organization, where they will perform a 45-minute set in an intimate, acoustic setting during the day on Thursday, September 27th or Friday, September 28th. No extra gear required!

As a token of gratitude, FMO provides a $100 credit toward future FMO purchases. There will also be an Art Beat reception and debrief on Friday, September 28th at the conference hotel, with food and drinks provided.

Applying to Art Beat
Applications will be available until August 30, 2019 at 11:55 PM.

What have people said about Art Beat?
Students, teachers, administrators, health care workers, and musicians alike have been delighted with the programs offered during conferences in Sudbury, Guelph, Kingston, London, Ottawa, Niagara Falls, Mississauga, and Toronto. Following are some reflections from recent Art Beat venues and artists:

In 2013, Art Beat saw its first performance in a correctional facility with Jay Aymar playing at the Ontario Correctional Institute (OCI) in Brampton. At the conference, Jay spoke about the profound impact of this experience. The staff of the Brampton OCI were equally impressed:

“[I want] to say a BIG THANK YOU for organizing and participating in the performance at the Ontario Correctional Institute on October 17, 2013.

Jay, the residents on Unit 6 were very appreciative of the time that you spent with them. They thoroughly enjoyed your performance and were still talking about it the next day.  Taking the time out of your busy schedule to perform for some of the men at OCI is not something that everyone is willing to do; for this I thank you tremendously.  It meant a lot to both the residents and myself that you were willing to dedicate some of your time to volunteer at OCI.”

Andrea Monteiro, Deputy Superintendent of Treatment and Programs, OCI

This relationship has been nurtured over the years. OCI was again treated to an Art Beat performance by Benjamin Dakota Rogers in 2018:

“On behalf of the men of OCI, I would like to thank Benjamin and Peter for a wonderful musical performance. The men were blown away at the level and versatility of talent  and the pipes on Benjamin and the seamless harmony between Peter and himself.  Anytime Benjamin would like to come back to OCI he’s always welcomed.”

Elaine Barnes, Ontario Correctional Institute

“My students really enjoyed the visit! Several met Jorge Miguel last year and were eager to hear him play his music and ask questions again. There was a good balance of learning about Flamenco, hearing some songs, students asking questions and getting an appropriate response, and having an opportunity to learn about flamenco rhythm and testing out percussive instruments. All age appropriate. We’re really grateful for the experience!”

Anna Viegandt/Michelle, Princess Margaret Junior School

“Art Beat is a great way to remind myself why I make music. Being a singer-songwriter can be overwhelming trying to stay relevant, wearing many hats. When I am given the opportunity to share my gifts, empower and sometimes heal others I feel redirected back on track. Starting the conference with Art Beat kept my mind grounded during. It’s a gift to be able to share. When my mum was in the hospital she would ask me to sing, saying it heals her. For Art Beat this year, Carson and I felt supported and as a result had an impact on people that day and walked away feeling rejuvenated. This is what the “real work” is; taking time to dedicate energy towards others and allowing ourselves to be changed. ”

Piper Hayes, Folk Music Ontario member and Art Beat performer

“The kids were awesome!  We had a lot of fun together.  The teachers were really pleasant and helpful as well.   I posted a couple of photos on my Instagram wall! Thanks for setting this up for me! It worked out beautifully!”

Andy Griffiths, Folk Music Ontario member and Art Beat performer