Grassroots festival enters second year

Flourish Festival will mark its second year in Fredericton with four days of musical and artistic collaboration on April 21.

Through music, film, theatre, spoken word and visual arts, the festival will serve as a platform for artists of all kinds to share and network their work creatively. A hearty handful of local acts take up the bill including Sentimentals, Motherhood, Kill Chicago and Sam Salmon, to name a few. Flourish will also feature and showcase Fredericton artwork at different venues – one Saturday night slot includes live-painting during the show – with several all-ages shows.

(Emily McPhee/The Aquinian)

For director Jane Blanchard, Flourish is an interdisciplinary approach to festivals. Flourish is a reflection of the collaboration and connectedness Blanchard has seen over the years in Fredericton both as a musician and a student. What started out as a semester project in her second year of marketing at Renaissance College is now a living, breathing music and arts festival.

“We thought we were only going to do it one year,” said Blanchard. “We have so many people here who are not only making art and performing, but they’re doing such a good job at it. It’s a great way to showcase what’s going on and what’s happening and make connections with other artists and other bands.”

Putting visual and audio artists together was suggested after last year’s festival, which included venues like Connexion ARC gallery and the Backstreet Records store. The scene was already set with most of the collaborators in question already helping with the festival. Through artist-run collectives like Shiftwork and the Shifty Bits Cult, bringing Flourish to the next level was a better way to get more people involved and offer more to the public. A Fredericton community centre has already opened its doors to incoming bands needing a place to stay.

“Music is what the festival revolves around. Music gets people out to things, but it’s cool because they’re exposed to other things they may not have known existed,” said Blanchard.

Ashley Sheard is an artist in Fredericton who’s been a part of the Shiftwork team since 2013. She studied graphic arts in New Brunswick but found a special place in the Shiftwork team a few years after graduating. It’s Sheard’s first time being involved in the festival and she’s excited to see Fredericton’s burgeoning creative community get some light.

“Sometimes people will know each other’s work but not know each other – you see what somebody else does at Flourish and it builds a conversation and sometimes new relationships. Collaborations form out of that,” she said.

Sheard’s work will be on display at Shiftwork studios, which hosts two shows on Saturday – one at 2 p.m. and another at 7 p.m. – both with triple-band lineups.

Hailing originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Sheard said it took some time to find her spot in Fredericton. Being a part of Shiftwork and the arts community had an impact on Sheard’s work, making being a part of Flourish a joy.

“The people here are amazing. Seeing all the people involved and the cool stuff everyone is doing – with Shiftwork we’re always challenging each other and trying to find new stuff to do. It’s exciting and we never know what we’re going to do next.”

Blanchard is excited to see bonds made and remembered at the festival. It’s only two years old but Flourish is already blossoming.

“It makes the East Coast more interconnected. By having support systems and the support of the city going to shows like this, it allows people to live here and work here and do what they love – and make a living of it.”

With the exception of this year’s shows at the Capital Complex Bar, everything else is all-ages. Connexion and Backstreet will once again serve up shows along with Yogagrow studio, Reneu clothing boutique, Cafe Loka and the Mazzerole Gallery.

Tickets are $40 and available at Read’s coffee shop, Backstreet Records or at Reneu boutique downtown. You can check out more on the festival website at