It has been ten years since Ravenswing, an annual fair of local artisans, live music and free skill-sharing workshops, first took flight and, in celebration of bringing arts, culture, and community to Centretown for a decade and counting, they are throwing a launch party to mark the occasion. The launch party will be an opportunity for folks to meet the Ravenswing coordinators, as well as the artists who submitted designs for this year’s raven logo contest.
Over the winter, Ravenswing curated submissions from local artists to design this year’s raven. They received 20 submissions from 17 different artists – including Heather Munro, Cam Rollin, Jacquie Trowell, Emil Mateja, and Clara Whittaker. Once all potential entries had been submitted, the Ravenswing coordinators, as well as their admin coordinator and site manager got together to conduct a secret ballot to decide upon a winning design.
All raven design submissions are currently on display at Troubador Books and Records, at 508 Bank, and will remain there for the month of April. The ravens will also be on display at the launch party, where the winner will be announced, as well as in an art gallery at Ravenswing, held in Minto Park on May 29th. The winner of the raven design contest will be awarded a cash prize of 50$ but, more importantly, they will have their design featured on this year’s poster, as well as on promotional material and merchandise. The 2nd and 3rd place entries will receive a cash prize of 25$. Both originals, as well as prints of the 2016 raven contest designs will be available for purchase at the launch party, with all proceeds going to the artist.
The launch party is also an opportunity to check out some of Ravenswing’s past musical performers and spoken word artists. There will be performances by Fire Antlers and spoken word artist Just Jamaal. A compilation of music by those who have performed at Ravenswing from 2009-2016 will also be made available via online download codes.
Ravenswing prides itself on the values of DIY arts, community, and social activism and the talent line up at the event reflects as much – creating an atmosphere that is fun, inclusive, and family friendly. Artists have included Winchester Warm, King Kimbit, Her Harbour, Pony Girl, and The Yips. The artists are curated by Ravenswing music coordinator Jon Schofield, who is very active in Ottawa’s music scene, alongside consultation and input from sound/stage coordinator Nathan Battams and Ravenswing co-directors Sean Zio and Lauren Potosky. Over the years Ravenswing has featured performances by an eclectic mix of emerging and well-established artists, with a wide range of styles: from hip hop, to R&B; from singer/songwriter, to indie, rock, and folk.
Although Ravenswing has curated a diverse group of artists to perform at the fair, they also have some ‘staples’, so to speak. They always invite karaoke super-queen, China Doll, to kick off the event and spoken word artists from the community to perform. They also work with groups like Rock Camp 4 Girls, a women-run organisation who empower teenage girls through music to give emerging collaborations and bands an opportunity to gain experience performing live together.
One of the aims of curating such a diverse group of artists to perform at Ravenswing is to be able to expose people to genres and artists they may not normally listen to. One of Ravenswing co-director Sean Zio’s favourite memories from Ravenswing is an instance of exactly that. A week after Ravenswing 2012, Sean received an email asking whether they had put on a fair in Minto Park the week prior. When Sean replied that they had, the person responded with an inquiry as to who the artist was who had been performing at 2pm that day, as they had heard them playing from their apartment and wanted to hear more. It is interactions like these that make Ravenswing what it is.
Ravenswing is really all about bringing people together through the arts. Both Lauren and Sean highlight the opportunity to do something fun and unique in the community, as well as the friends they’ve made, and those who they’ve watched become friends at Ravenswing as the best take-away from the event.
So, what can one expect from Ravenswing’s tenth year? In celebration of being an urban fair, there will be a graffiti workshop and a popping and locking workshop at this year’s event. The musical lineup features artists like China Doll, Final Fall, Moonfruits, Adam Saikaley, and Apollo the Child. A schedule of events will be released before the fair, so that folks can plan their visit around the performances and workshops that they want to get in on. Or, make a day of it and hang out in the park – this year Ravenswing has played with the fair’s layout, in order to create more space for people to come and lounge. Also, for the tenth year running, Ravenswing will be partnering with the Clothesline Project, who speak out against violence against women by displaying t-shirts painted by women who have experienced violence.
Ravenswing is a grassroots event that thrives on the rich arts community we have in this city. If you are new to Ottawa, or new to Ravenswing, it is certainly an event to mark in your calendar. And if, like myself, you are anxiously awaiting Ravenswing’s tenth anniversary, come out to the launch party and get a taste of what’s to come!
Ravenswing’s 10th anniversary launch party will be held Friday, April 8th, at Pressed (750 Gladstone). For details, see the Facebook event. For more information on Ravenswing, find them on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.