"The goal of this festival is to 'spur' conversation," says Spur fest producer Nick Hutcheson.
Organized by the Literary Review of Canada and Diaspora Dialogues, Spur will bring together creative people to spark dialogue and debate about crucial contemporary issues.
"This is an idea festival," Hutcheson says. Spur doesn't want to present finished products to an audience, it wants to engage audiences in ongoing discussions, especially in the contested terrain where politics and culture overlap.
This is the festival's inaugural year. Spur kicked off in Toronto on April 11th, and now it's Winnipeg's turn. Vancouver will follow later this spring, with plans to add other cities in 2014. (So, yes, we're in ahead of Calgary, Montreal, Halifax. Go, Winnipeg!)
While Spur is a national initiative, it takes different forms in different places. Toronto's edition, "The Bottom Line," explored cash, civics and culture. Winnipeg's theme is "Unnatural Histories," which looks at our past, our possible future, and the ways the natural world is woven into our visions of our city.
Recurring ideas include environmentalism, sustainability and the relationship between culture and nature. Events include building tours, a film screening and live music, but mostly Spur is about talk - lots and lots of talk.
Events run from Friday to Sunday at different venues. Here are three to check out:
The Politics of Food: Locavore vs. Globavore
Author Sarah Elton
(Saturday, April 27th, 5:00 p.m. Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall, $19/$14 students)
We are what we eat in this passionate discussion of the production, distribution and consumption of food. (The 100-Mile Diet or the 10,000-Mile Diet? Local or global? Quinoa - miracle or menace?)
Authors Sarah Elton (Consumed: Food for a Finite Planet
) and Pierre Desrochers (The Locavore's Dilemma
) will be mixing it up, and we strongly suspect that food-loving moderator Bartley Kives is going to dive in, too.
Capturing the Scene: The Creative Landscape
Artist Diana Thorneycroft
(Saturday, April 27th, 7:30 p.m., Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall, $19/$14 students)
This panel discussion examines the intersections of art and nature. Artist Diana Thorneycroft is known for often controversial works about the body, as well as a photographic series examining the Group of Seven, perhaps Canada's best-known landscape interpreters.
David McMillan has been documenting the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster since 1994, photographing abandoned human artifacts as they are slowly overtaken by nature. And, intriguingly, chef Mandel Hitzer of Deer + Almond will be speaking about cooking, perhaps the most fundamental way of transforming nature into art.
Moving Past Walls: WAG
Artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan
(Sunday, April 28th, 11:30 a.m., Winnipeg Art Gallery, $19/$14 students)
The Winnipeg Art Gallery, the oldest civic art gallery in Canada, is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.
Local artists and curators Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan plan an unorthodox gallery tour that will take participants behind the scenes and deep into the politics of institutionalized art. (Who gets in? Who gets overlooked? How can large galleries and museums reflect and connect with their communities?)
Spur Winnipeg runs April 26-28 at various venues.
Related:Documentary a love letter to the Winnipeg music scene