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COLUMN: Check out what's happening in city's arts community

Despite the lockdown, there is much happening at Orillia galleries, cultural institutions and organizations, says arts and entertainment columnist
Whoville Trees credit Deb Halbot
The Whoville Trees in downtown Orillia are coming down, but are being put up for sale. If you are interested they will be available, starting Saturday at Jack and Maddy's, for $50.

Well folks, we are almost at February, and not a minute too soon! Between the extreme cold, crazy snowstorms and the lockdown, a lot of us are feeling not-so-great. Here’s to the shortest month of the year and the gateway to spring coming up fast!

Lots of tidbits today from many sources, so here we go.

The Orillia District Arts Council (ODAC) has named Zain Campbell as their newest board member. Campbell, a local musician and HipHop artist, as well as the marketing rep for HXMESWEETHXME, will bring youth and music into the ODAC picture, as well as working on his own projects.

Campbell recently rebranded himself as Oz Series, and you can find his videos and music through that name, through all the major platforms. Oz Series just re-released the incredible song Fences, with HXMESWEETHXME, through Oz Series. You can listen to Fences here.

Another local musician who recently rebranded himself is Danny Webster. Webster, son of a local sound engineer, has been working as a musician for a few years now and will henceforth be known as Livers. Livers has a new single, just out, called Mother’s Watch, and you can listen to this fun, poppy musical offering here.

In other ODAC news, ODAC has just started a new Facebook private group, called the ODAC-Resource Art Group. If you are an area artist or involved in the arts in Orillia, ask to join this resource group and learn and share! Recently in the group Dennis Rizzo shared several videos pairing Black History month with art, and there is a lot of beautiful art and great information there. Thanks, ODAC, for this informative group.

Speaking of February, Black History Month, the Orillia Museum of Art and History’s (OMAH) Virtual History Speaker Series will focus on that, with the topic by speaker Fred Blair being Black Veterans of the War of 1812. Blair is a local expert on the War of 1812, and you can be sure this talk will be full of interesting information. Mark your calendars for February 16 at 7 p.m., and you can sign up for the Zoom link by emailing visitors@orilliamuseum.org.

Don’t forget, your local small art galleries are still open, including Hibernation Arts in the Peter Street Arts District, with new displays and guest artists. Hibernation Arts is featuring guest artist David Crighton as well as a new wall of art by Orillia Fine Arts Association members. Hibernation Arts is also looking for guest artists over the next few months, so check it out and apply!

The Cellar Singers just received a large $44,000 Trillium grant to help them out of the pandemic. The grant will be used for operating expenses, including retaining staff. All of our performing arts groups have had such a horrible time over the past two years, thank goodness there are grants like these to keep them going. Congratulations to The Cellar Singers!

Congratulations also to local thespian Kevin Scharf, who has just landed a role in the South Simcoe Theatre’s production of Disaster! A hilarious musical comedy coming our way in May 2022. After Scharf’s wonderful music and comedy in Mariposa Arts Theatre’s Twelfth Night, I am sure he will be awesome in this show as well. More information as it becomes available.

Finally, the Whoville Trees in downtown Orillia are coming down, and are being put up for sale. If you are interested in purchasing a Whoville Tree, they are $50 each, a fundraiser for Streets Alive Productions, and you can go to Jack and Maddy’s on the main street to buy your tree, first come, first served. This is starting this Saturday, Jan. 29.

That’s all for this week, folks, tune in next week for hopefully some reopening good news and the start of a new month!

If you have arts news, send it to annaproctor111@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon to be included.