Fort San: Artfully Transformed
During the last few decades of the twentieth century, Fort San reinvented itself as a venue for great artistic education and production.
Two poems by Lia Hiebert: Gabriel and Gaelic
Summer Jazz School at Fort San
“I was a nervous 15 year old from small town Saskatchewan going to spend a week busting my chops learning some cool jazz licks from some big time players.”
Video interviews: Rebecca and Shirley reminisce about painting classes and recount a ghost story from The San.
By the 1950s, Saskatchewan was a rapidly growing province. With post-World War II economic vigour, middle class residents were prosperous and the demand for leisure activities developed.
At this time, the recently established Saskatchewan Arts Board started to arrange workshops during the summer in various rural locations. These adult education initiatives arose out of a desire to provide the people of Saskatchewan with a chance to share in cultural activities. At the same time several band camps were successfully launched, as rural and urban residents rallied support for children’s arts education. The success of these workshops led then Premier Ross Thatcher to question “whether it would be feasible to pursue the development of a Residential Centre for Cultural Development at Fort Qu’Appelle Sanatorium.”
Hence, in 1967, the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts was founded at Fort San, providing workshops in visual arts, crafts, drama, music, and writing. Thousands of students inhabited the old sanatorium every summer, adults and teenagers, all benefiting from the unique experience that quality instruction and a retreat-like setting could provide.
Many well known instructors taught at the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts, and many talented artists continue to emerge from their Fort San experience. Those who did not continue their creative pursuits still remember their time at the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts as a memorable experience full of first kisses, first inspirations, and the occasional first ghost!
In 1991, the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts closed due to lack of funding, leaving a legacy of artistic production that remains part of the creative continuum that resides in and around the Qu’Appelle Valley.
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