The Unity Art Festival to be a one-night event aimed to raise awareness for the local arts

Festival season is starting early this year with the debut of the first annual Unity Art Festival in February.

The festival, doubling as a charity fundraiser, will feature over 17 local talents including dancers, musicians, artists, photographers and hair designers.

Event founder, Leah Pacaoan, says she created the festival to celebrate the arts and bring attention to the lack of presence in Calgary’s arts scene. Pacaoan, who moved from Edmonton a year and a half ago, says she found that Calgary’s art scene wasn’t united.

“There’s no big push for the arts scene and if there is, it’s very underground. Nobody really knows about it,” she says.

As a musician and hairstylist herself, Pacaoan says she hopes to bring Calgarians together and propel the arts scene forward because it keeps communities alive and helps put our city on the map.

“This is Calgary. We are a city in Canada that has these local talents and I think we should be supporting them,” she says.

Cristalyn Sugano, owner of Gloss Salon and Spa, agrees with Pacaoan.

Sugano says, “I don’t think Calgary has enough arts. Calgary is very corporate and it would be nice if the public would come to support [the arts] so that we can keep expanding it. Art needs to come out in Calgary.”

Sugano will be styling hair and etching hair tattoos for the show. She says this festival is different because it will showcase various types of art.

The mixed-art festival will include live music, dance pieces and a silent auction. The hair show will also feature 40 local models showcasing hair designs.

“To put all that in one event is what’s unique about it,” Sugano says. “There’s not a lot of events like this in Calgary so it’s something different for people to come see.”

Sugano adds that the festival is even more special because it will give back to the community.

In addition to being an exhibition for local artists, the festival will be a fundraiser. Proceeds after costs, made through ticket sales and the silent auction, will go towards two causes: the National Music Centre and Cornerstone Foundation.Pacaoan says there needs to be more celebration of the arts in the city because it helps liven up communities and help put Calgary on the map.
Photo by: Pauline Zulueta

The National Music Centre is an upcoming high-tech music facility soon to be built in the East Village. This multi-functional music centre will have interactive exhibits, a performance hall, public music programs and practice studios.

Pacaoan says, “I think the building itself is going to be iconic and will be a staple for performers in Calgary. The National Music Centre will make a big difference for the arts scene in Calgary, so why not push that?”

Part of the proceeds from the festival will also go to the Cornerstone Foundation, a local charity organization dedicated to caring for orphans in Thailand.

Paul G. J. David, founder of Cornerstone Foundation, says he wants to use this opportunity to connect with the youth in Calgary, spreading his organization’s message.

“You can party, but you’re partying for a cause,” he says.

The festival will take place Feb. 4 starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Alexandra Centre in Inglewood in southeast Calgary. For more information, visit Unity Art Festival’s Facebook page.

pzulueta@cjournal.ca