Weaving Art Forms Together

Writing, by nature, is a solitary activity. Often, the only reading opportunities for writers take place at book launches. The Vertigo Series in Regina weaves together music, literature and visual art to create a relaxed social space for artists to share their work.

Each cabaret-style event features musicians and writers, either performing alone or collaborating. "Professional writers have reported that their reading styles opened up with the addition of music. The melody allowed them to express themselves in new ways," says Tara Dawn Solheim, Vertigo's volunteer director. "It also provides an opportunity for songwriters to showcase their lyrics in an environment where people listen closely to the composition and poetry of the music."

Artists are chosen based on their body of work and combined by instinct. Presenters have included singer/songwriter Jeffery Straker, Saskatchewan Poet Laureate Judith Krause, and Juno Award-winning spoken word artist Lillian Allen. Each event attracts between 50 to 100 audience members.

A grant from the Saskatchewan Arts Board enables Vertigo to pay artists standard professional rates for their readings and performances. Writers and musicians also keep all revenue from book and CD sales. Most events are free to attend, and if there's an entry fee, it's subsidized.

Weaving Art Forms Together

Vertigo also hosts open stages throughout the year, providing performance and mentorship opportunities for emerging and established artists of all ages and backgrounds. "We have a consistent group of people who come out. They know that they'll be able to share in a supportive environment," Solheim says.

The series partners with the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Cathedral Village Arts Festival, Saskatchewan Writers' Guild, Saskatchewan Book Awards, Creative City Centre and Brown Communications on a variety of initiatives. It also coordinates workshops, which have included ekphrastic writing - literary response to visual works of art - about MacKenzie Art Gallery exhibitions.

Performances are held at the gallery as well as at Crave Kitchen + Wine Bar. "Working with a local business has allowed us to interact with a different cross-section of the population. People walk by the door and they may have never seen a literature reading before. They stick their heads in and see what it's about, and some of them stay for the whole event!" Solheim exclaims.

For more, visit vertigoseries.com.

The Vertigo Series a grant from the Creative Partnerships program, a joint initiative of the Saskatchewan Arts Board and SaskCulture Inc., using funding from the Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture and Recreation.

Front page: Lillian Allen

Above left: Cheryl L'Hirondelle

Above right: Jeffery Straker