Lunch, with a side of performing arts

Shenkman Arts Centre to offer free outdoor shows this summer

Summer campers, area workers and residents will enjoy a lunchtime treat again at the Shenkman Arts Centre this year. Starting on July 5 and running every Thursday until August 23, there will be live performances at the Agora Minto-Orléans Outdoor Plaza, an approximately 10,000 sq. ft. concrete landscaped area located in front of the centre.

“The program started last year,” says Jolynn Sommervill, an arts programmer at the Shenkman Arts Centre, “and it was hugely successful. Not only is it a great opportunity for performers to showcase their talent, it brings the centre’s campers together at lunch.” All the performances will take place in front of the building, weather permitting, or move into one of the building’s many lobbies. “This year we even have a sponsor,” says Sommervill. “The Heart of Orléans BIA is on board, so that means the performing artists will be paid – which is great for them.”

All the performances are free and open to the community. “We knew we had a built-in audience with the Shenkman Arts Centre campers, but we really wanted the community and other camps to get involved,” says Sommervill. “Our goal was to expose everyone to new and different types of acts and performances.” She says the performances were a big hit with everyone.
“Both the kids and the adults had a great time, and we encouraged everyone to interact with the artists.”

Last summer’s performers included Puja Uppal and Bollywood Dancing, the Ota-Wa-Taiko Japanese Drummers, Junkyard Symphony, Spoken Word Poet Jamaal Jackson Rogers and West African Drummer Fana Soro. “The Japanese drummers provided instruments, so the kids could play along,” says Sommervill, “and the Bollywood movements and music were infectious – you just had to move.” Sommervill says there is often an educational component that goes along with the performance, but it’s all so much fun that you don’t even realize you’re learning something. She says that for many campers, this is the first time they may have experienced a live performance.

This year’s lineup will feature eight live performances on Thursdays starting at 12:30 p.m. The lunchtime performances won’t interfere with any grand finales that the camps hold on their final Fridays. “If you’re out in the area, why not drop by and catch a Thursday performance,” says Sommervill. “You might see something different and you’ll get to see some of the tremendous talent these performers have to offer.” For more information on Shenkman Arts Centre summer camps, visit