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Hull your ass across the River! Arboretum will make it worth your while

By Ryan Saxby Hill on August 19, 2014

Arboretum is taking the party to Hull with a full night of programming across the river, including shows at Le Troquet and Le Petit Chicago. This will be a great opportunity to increase our cultural dialogue  across the river and help extend the festival audience.

Nicolas Sylvestre, of the Fau Mardi collective, (a group that links DJs, VJs, producers and other technology-engaged artists together for events and shows) believes that people who cross the river to work should really think more about getting to know the community after hours. “Reality is that there is a divide between the two cities, be it linguistic or cultural. A good example is that you’ve got people crossing the river each day for work without ever really knowing, or wanting to know the city they set foot in.”

He continues, “In that regard, bringing the different music communities of the area has always been one of our goals, though it’s not always easy to have people crossing over the bridge, especially on a Tuesday night [when the Fau Mardi event takes place weekly in Hull at Le Petit Chicago]. It has led to great networking, for us, the artists we showcase, and the people who come out to our nights (regardless where they’re coming from)… I think there is great value in these interactions, as I see it as one ecosystem that depends on the good health of each of its parts.”

With two artistic communities both in need of audiences, building relationships across the river makes complete sense.

I spoke with JF at Le Troquet who pointed to this year’s Hull-based Bluesfest programming. With ample parking and a short walk to the venue at Lebreton Flats, Hull is a convenient place to leave your car for the night. JF and others worked to create programming that would start when this audience came back to pick up their cars at 11pm. The intention: Getting people into Hull venues and introducing them to the fun that this vibrant area of Gatineau has to offer is a side effect.

If the idea of crossing the bride to intimidates you, Arboretum has come up with a fun way to travel to Hull.  Ottawa bike fashion blog, Ottawa Velo Vogue has organized a group ride leaving from Raw Sugar at 8p.m., which will travel across the bridge to the shows. According to Zara at Velo Vogue, biking is a natural fit for the Arboretum program. “A big part of Arboretum’s mission is to connect festival goers with our city’s natural spaces, public spaces and architectural heritage. And of course there’s no better way to connect with all of that than by bicycle.”

She’s excited to help people learn a bit more about a great bike destination and what she calls a “hidden gem” in the city.

“Hull has so much to offer and people in Ottawa are missing out if they aren’t taking that in. It’s a great city with a lot of history and interesting architecture. And there are incredible people doing incredibly creative work in Hull. Every Tuesday night Fau Mardi at Petit Chicago showcases electronic culture with local and emerging talent from Ottawa and Gatineau – amazing artists who work with technology.”

It’s all good new for Hull, but there’s a ways to go.

“If ‘Vieux Hull’ is to really take its place as the (natural) downtown of Gatineau, it needs more than condo towers and the soon-to-be-built multifunctional centre,” says Sylvestre. “Different art initiatives can go a long way into keeping development at a human level, and the art community has been active in engaging in this idea of ‘humanizing’ Hull Island. Moreover, you’ll see them in cafés, restaurants, bars, concerts, events, etc. which is central to creating a living space where people can relate to one another and their environment, with a sense of community.”

With two cities where burgeoning arts scenes need to find willing audiences, projects that help people remember to cross the river every now and then can only help. JK at Le Troquet was pretty confident that Arboretum was doing it right, finding partners and building an audience in Hull.

It should all make for a fun Tuesday night. The bike convoy meets at Raw Sugar Café at 7pm. They’ll have some treats on hand and head for the ride around 8pm. There are two shows Tuesday, with Her Harbour and Jesse MacCormack playing La Troquet at 8pm (doors at 7pm, $5 or free with a festival pass) and Fau Mardi continuing the party at Le Petit Chicago at 10pm (free event). Make sure you bring your bike lights!