Festival Provides Stage for Young Artists

2nd Peterborough Youth Arts Festival May 5

The Nikoteens perform. Left to right: Eamon Brand (Guitar), Aidan Clarke (Drums), Basil Stalteri (Singer) and Nick Shepherd (Bass).

From watercolour to song, the community is invited to explore the creative canvas of aspiring artists May 5.

The Peterborough Youth Arts Festival (PYAF) partners with Art for Awareness to present the second annual festival for young Peterborough residents. The event gives people aged 11-17 a chance to showcase their creativity through visual art, photography, music, video, theatre and dance.

Lakefield College School student artwork.

Lakefield College School student artwork.

Lydia Etherington, producer of PYAF, is passionate about giving youth the spotlight to support their artistic endeavors.

“I always kind of knew this was something that was needed,” Lydia says about the festival.

“There’s so much talent in young people.”

Lydia founded PYAF in 2018, propelled by her own experience with art.

“I’ve had the privilege of being able to do a lot of theatre at a young age and take on a lot of leadership in the arts at a young age. A lot of that was because of my parents and the connections that they have (in the art community) and the projects they take on,” she explains.

“A lot of other kids don’t really have that opportunity because they aren’t born into an artsy family or don’t have the same kind of resources. So with the PYAF, I wanted to give everyone the same opportunity that I had.”

Singer Aimée Gordon takes to the stage.

Singer Aimée Gordon takes to the stage.

Lydia hopes to see that vision come to fruition through the show. Called A Celebration of Young Artists, the event runs from 1-4 p.m. at PACE at Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School, 201 McDonnel St. More than 40 young artists will be displaying and performing original pieces.

The festival provides a rare opportunity for people from grades 7-12 to present their art on their own terms. It also aims to help young artists develop the skills, networks and confidence to continue their development, while providing the community an opportunity to learn about this new generation of artists.

“I wanted a space for young people to be their own advocate and not have to worry about what plays they’re putting on or what shows they’re doing and how young people can fit into their model,” Lydia says.

“I wanted young people to have an open stage to showcase their art without being bound by what adults are trying to do.”

Natasha Babcock took this photograph.

Natasha Babcock took this photograph.

Participating artists are encouraged to work with other young people on their projects for the festival — for example, having a young person write, film, edit, and act in a video — and not to seek the help of many adults.

The inaugural event was a success and this year’s turnout of artists is exciting for Lydia. Down the road, she anticipates the festival being multiple days and encompassing artwork throughout the downtown core and in other areas and venues throughout the city.

“This year it has grown so much more than I could imagine it to have grown in two years. It definitely means in the future, hopefully next year, we will be expanding.”

Lakefield College School student artwork.

Lakefield College School student artwork.

For Lydia, seeing the festival take shape the way she envisioned “is a great feeling.”

“The acts are all incredible. We have some amazing bands. I think we’re really going to impress a lot of people.”

Lydia says people often hear about youth artists and are eager to support them but don’t expect they’ll receive anything in return. “I think that this year everybody who comes out is going to enjoy it and learn something and I’m really excited to see the effect that has on people.”

The doors open at 1 p.m. and the show begins at 2 p.m. The admission fee is $10 or pay what you can.

Lead photo by Clinton Clarke.

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