Saskatchewan Arts Alliance buzzing about buttons

By: Diane Ell April, 2012

It’s all about bringing several existing parts together and adding in your own dash, statement and individuality.

According to David Sereda, of the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance (SAA), “We thought button-making could be a Culture Days activity for all ages. It was hands-on, and the activity would draw people in because of the fun factor.” The SAA used the opportunity to engage people in a conversation about the arts during Culture Days in 2011. “Some of the ideas that came up in conversations ended up on the one-of-a-kind buttons that would hopefully travel the city, the province and beyond,” he adds.

Every day is “culture day” at the SAA. The organization is always looking for ways to increase the visibility of arts and cultural activity and spur conversations about the importance of the arts to a truly healthy society. “Culture Days, which celebrates artistic and cultural activity, seemed the perfect platform to inaugurate our buttonmaker,” he adds.

The SAA held two Button Bees in downtown Regina; one outdoors on the Scarth Street Mall and one inside the Dunlop Art Gallery. “We teamed up with The Globe Theatre and the Dunlop Art Gallery, two of our member organizations, who provided set up space and tables,” he says. This was the first year SAA participated in Culture Days and the organization decided that partnering would not only increase its potential audiences, but it would reflect the organization’s work: representing artists and cultural industries across the province.

“We brought materials for people to collage with, a variety of coloured pens and pencils and also some ready-made designs with slogans about the power of artistic activity,” Sereda says. These slogans, which included “The Arts Live Here”, “Powered by the Arts” and “Art Works”, were the result of an online slogan brainstorm held earlier in the summer on SAA’s Facebook page.

According to Sereda the idea was a success. “The Button Bees were buzzing,” he says. “We had line-ups even as we were setting up on the Scarth Street Mall. There were lots of smiles, intense concentration and pride in the finished pieces.”

At the Dunlop, there were duelling machines in the foyer of the Film Theatre, accompanied by a Sound Jam, led by composer Jeff Morton. “The arts engage us,” says Sereda, “for even in a simple activity, [such as a button bee] we use so much of ourselves: our aesthetic sense, emotions, and ideas.” He goes on to share how the Culture Days Button Bee enabled people to share the results with friends and strangers, admire each other’s work and think about the possibilities of what a small circle can hold.