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GerryFest raising Funds to foster young artists

GerryFest is an annual event that features emerging visual artists and musicians from underrepresented communities in the arts.

This will be the festival’s second year, with the theme “each one, teach one,” focused on raising voices and telling stories from and to the audience.

“The idea is to have an outdoor festival of the arts dedicated to the life and work of Gerry Atwell,” said Judy Williams, Gerry Atwell’s sister and co-chair of the Gerry Fest

Judy is one of the six siblings who grew up with Gerry in St. Norbert, Winnipeg. She’s been working on the project since her brother passed away in 2019.

“Gerry’s vision was always to have the stories of black Canadians be told to the greater public,” she said. “We’ve recognized some of those stories were definitely missing from the school curriculum.”

Atwell wrote several plays related to those issues, in which some were staged. He was also a singer and songwriter and played the piano and the trumpet as well.

“He was a communicator, an ideas person, an empathetic listener and a great connector,” said Williams.

Atwell came up with the concept for Gerry Fest himself to gather some of the numerous bands he’s been a part of since 1975. Now, the goal for this year’s festival is to raise $100K for the Gerry Atwell Memorial Mentorship Fund to continue supporting new artists.

“As long as we keep remembering what’s still missing, we can work together towards making things a little bit better,” said Williams.

Gerry Fest will take place at St. Norbert Art Centre from August 13th to the 15th. For tickets or more information about the event, you can access snac.mb.ca.

The GerryFest team also includes co-chair Louise May and Artistic Director Brendan Kinley.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural.

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