New arts festival set to debut in Regina with theme of Truth and Reconciliation

The Regina Symphony Orchestra is debuting their first annual Forward Currents Festival. This year's festival is titled Listen and Hear: Toward Prairie Reconciliation.

Forward Currents Festival runs March 2-4 at MacKenzie Art Gallery

RSO music director Gordon Gerrard announced in Novemeber the first Forward Currents Festival will focus on truth and reconciliation. (CBC News)

A new arts festival is set to launch in Regina, with this year's theme being Truth and Reconciliation.

The Forward Currents Festival is hosted by the Regina Symphony Orchestra (RSO) and is billed as an annual event focusing on a social justice issue. 

The festival's inaugural event, which includes music and visual art, has been titled Listen and Hear: Toward Prairie Reconciliation, and it involves a collaboration of Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists.

The goal is to ignite conversations around Truth and Reconciliation in the community.

Gordon Gerrard, music director for the RSO, says it's common for orchestras to have genre-themed festivals, but RSO wanted to do something different. 

"I've always felt that there's more to what an orchestra can offer than some people realize," said Gerrard. 

"So, we thought we would start a festival every year taking its theme from a different issue of social relevance in our community."

According to Garrard, this year's theme was not hard to decide on. 

"The obvious choice for all of us was to talk about Truth and Reconciliation," he said. 

Gerrard says the event is a way to contribute to Truth and Reconciliation and broaden people's perspectives.

"When you read the calls to action from the TRC report, it says all of us have to figure out our own way of practicing reconciliation in our everyday lives."

"As a musician, this is a personal foray into that," he said.

"The hope is that this will spark conversations and make [people] think about different perspectives on what reconciliation means to them."

Diverse music

The festival includes a variety of performers from across Canada, including Saskatchewan hip-hop artist Eekwol from Muskoday First Nation and Métis jazz singer Andrea Menard, as well as artists Edward and Robin Poitras from Regina-based New Dance Horizons.

"The RSO has a built-in platform and I'm happy to, sort of, lend it to some pretty formidable Indigenous artists," said Gerrard.

"I hope that people in the audience, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, see those people up there and see them as a source of inspiration, maybe peaks their curiosity to learn about their story," said Gerrard.

"That for me is what success looks like for this festival," he added. 

The festival is set to take place March 2-4 at the MacKenzie Art Gallery. 

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend