Madness, We Have. But Method?

A behind-the-scenes-look at the craziness and joy of planning an arts festival


The Festival of the Arts is 6 months away.

Blog Photo - FOTA Poster

Which means there’s still a ton of work to prepare for it all. 

The most challenging parts of the entire Festival this year — other than getting enough grant and sponsorship money — will be the live shows.  We’re going out on a limb with these productions, taking big risks and hoping our audiences will love the results.

We’re mixing short drama with music one night, holding a book launch with readings, music and belly-dancing the next. We’ll blend poetry with video and music one afternoon, and the visual artists will be doing an unusual live painting event.  There are workshops, literary and visual art fairs, a panel. Etc.

It’s our second Festival, and the stakes are high. Two reasons:

  1. The first was a great success.
  2. This year is our organization’s 20th anniversary. Yes, Spirit of the Hills Arts Association (SOTH) turns 20 this year. It’s a big milestone for a small-ish group of 160 artists from various disciplines spread out over the hills, valleys, lakes and small towns an hour east of Toronto.

SOTH Photo - Street Piano, Cobourg

So the pressure is on. This year’s Festival must be even more exciting. That means testing the limits and trying some radical ideas.


Once in a while we have to stop and remind ourselves how far we’ve come. 

As our committee chairperson Felicity says: “Some days it feels like we’re doing a lot but have little to show as yet. But our work is all cumulative; the programme is being put in place.”

We’re not running around like headless chickens — at least not yet!  Felicity keeps us all on track; how she does that is a bit beyond me, to tell the truth. But she does.


Susan, a writer-painter, is president of SOTH. 

Blog Photo - SOTH Artist Painting

She’s also in charge of the Writing Competition. Anyone may enter a short story, poem or non-fiction piece.  Winning entries will be published along with those of professional writers in our Hill Spirits anthology, and winners will be publicised.

We have a well-established process for this competition, and launched it several weeks ago. But will enough people enter this year?

Many writers are deadline-driven. And since the competition deadline isn’t till May, well… we won’t know for a while.  (To Submit, see:


You could say we have a method, and now we’re in the madness. And yes, I know — the very act of choosing to create art these days must mean we’re a little bit mad. As an artist friend jokes: “I’m a painter. I’m working my way into poverty.”

But time flies when you’re having fun.  Even before one competition closes, another begins. The photography competition launched this month (April). 

photo contest poster for web


Now we’re into the madness of contacting schools, colleges, and photography clubs, promoting the competition like crazy, and waiting for submissions. (See for info on how to submit.)


As we go along, we will share our plans, challenges and successes with you.  You can help by sending us good vibes and leaving a comment. It’ll help keep us energized.

Thank you for visiting our blog and see you next time!


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