If you’re interested in becoming more involved in Regina’s vibrant arts scene – as a participant or an audience member – you’ll want to get acquainted with the Creative City Centre. Located in a restored heritage building in the heart of downtown Regina (at 1843 Hamilton Street, above The Capitol), the centre provides a place to experience creativity in all kinds of forms – visual arts, music, theatre, film and literary arts. It offers a performance venue, visual art gallery, meeting and workshop spaces and affordable artist studios. There really is something for everyone.
The centre puts on more than 100 events per year. Its small performance venue fits about 50 people and offers an intimate experience for audiences and performers. I spoke with Marian Donnelly, chair of the Creative City Centre, who says, “When people come to a show here, the focus is on the artist on stage. You won’t hear people talking over the music. You can hear every word the artist says; you can see the sweat on their face. It’s a nice, acoustical, special kind of space.”
Music performances focus on the best Saskatchewan has to offer. I really enjoy the Behind the Songs Concert Series
, which has featured established musicians like Jason Plumb and Jack Semple, and emerging ones like Danny Olliver.
What makes the Creative City Centre really unique though, is its regular poetry slams. What is a poetry slam? It’s a competitive event where spoken word artists share their work in a fast-paced environment. And if you’re going to be in the crowd, prepare to snap, clap and cheer – the audience is as much a part of the performance as the poets are. Regina’s slam poetry scene has grown out of the centre, which presented its first slam in 2011, with monthly ones since. Last year that grew to two slams a month, and this season every Friday night will feature spoken word or storytelling.
You’ll find a lot of events at the centre are low-cost or even free. For example, the Word Up Poetry Slam is $10 or pay what you can. And if you get up on stage to perform, you don’t have to pay at all. Marian says, “We want this to be an inclusive and welcoming space regardless of financial status. We try to make it so it’s not a luxury ticket item.”
Empty Room Series
The centre’s performance venue is also used in an unusual way – for musicians to play to an empty room. Beginning earlier this year, Saskatchewan talent such as Belle Plaine, Megan Nash and Alexis Normand have been recorded playing in the space. YouTube videos are released weekly and then the audio track is broadcast on CBC Radio One on Monday mornings.
Workshops offered at the centre run the gamut from gardening to festival and event production to song writing. There is even a weekly life-drawing workshop on Thursday nights, featuring a live model.
In the next couple of months, you will find classes on sewing, creative writing, personal development and digital storytelling. I can recommend the How to Run a Non-Profit class
, which I took this summer, and is offered again this fall. “Pretty much everyone who comes to us with an idea for a workshop, we try to make it happen,” Marian says. Workshop prices are affordably priced and the centre accepts payment plans for anyone who can’t afford a lump sum.
The Hague Gallery features emerging and established Saskatchewan artists, with exhibits changing every six to eight weeks. The gallery is located in the same venue as the performance space, which means you can go to a concert and a gallery at the same time! The gallery has satellite art exhibits, called Pop Up Downtown
, which use vacant storefronts and independent business locations to display local artists’ work.
The centre is also home to a variety of artist studios, including Crushed Rockets Motion Pictures, Two Hearts Media, and visual artist Brendan Schick, among others. The largest tenant is Articulate Ink, a printmaking collective, which also does workshops, designs the centre’s monthly posters and creates T-shirts (I have more than a few of these!)
Contributing to Downtown
Marian says that downtown Regina has changed a lot since the Creative City Centre opened its doors in 2011. “There are so many restaurants and pubs, and things to do and see now. We provide one more reason to come downtown. You can have a fantastic meal at The Capitol and come upstairs and see a concert. Our programming usually ends by 10:30 p.m., so you have time to go for dessert and a drink somewhere after.”
(And you really do need to have a meal at The Capitol if you haven’t already. I can vouch for the paella and the chimichurri ribs, and Marian highly recommends the salted caramel chocolate mousse.)
To learn more about the Creative City Centre, visit www.creativecitycentre.ca.