Nanaimo musician Nico Rhodes is presenting a free event series at the Port Theatre in which local artists from different fields come together to create and converse.
Chapter 1: Exploring Nanaimo’s Artistic Landscape, the first in Rhodes’s four-part series, will be held at the Port Theatre on Sept. 23. The next three shows are scheduled for November, January and March.
“We’re trying to encourage [artists] to collaborate,” Rhodes said. “We’re creating new works together and then we’re presenting those works at the Port Theatre and then also having conversations with the artists where we discuss their personal relationship to the community, first of all, at large and also specifically to the space, to the Port Theatre.”
Rhodes describes the first installment as a “prologue” to the series and an introduction to the concept behind it. The artists for that event include a “house band” featuring Rhodes as keyboardist and arranger, Al Murray on drums, Erin Burton on bass, Helena Jung on cello and Brad Shipley on guitar and mandolin.
“We’re going to be having our house band presenting some of their favourite music that we’ve arranged and collaborated on,” Rhodes said. “And we’ll be having some engaging conversation about Nanaimo and culture and identity and sharing a nice cup of tea.”
Rhodes said he has a “particular attachment” to the Port Theatre, as he’s performed there since it first opened. He calls it Nanaimo’s artistic “crowning jewel.”
“The mandate here, the intention, is to really enshrine the Port Theatre … as a community gathering place,” he said. “As a place where these artists can and should and are invited to come and participate and create and engage in a meaningful way.”
Rhodes said the series is also a response to the sense of isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said has impacted the artistic community.
“If I could create a really collaborative, open space that allowed people from all shapes and all sizes and all races and creeds and religions and everything in and to celebrate together, that’s the opposite of what we’ve been experiencing as people and as artists where we’ve lost a lot of our work and we’ve lost our sense of community,” he said. “And so this is a bit of medicine for that.”
Artists interested in participating in the series can reach Rhodes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT’S ON … Chapter 1: Exploring Nanaimo’s Artistic Landscape takes place at the Port Theatre, 125 Front St., on Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m. Free event, to register, click here.