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  • Writer's pictureStuart Benson

‘Our Hidden Hills’

100 Mile Arts Network showcases regions in online performances

The 100 Mile Arts Network released the first episode of a three-part video showcase exploring the artists and cultural spaces that make up the Gatineau Hills and the surrounding area. The Network’s aim is to offer a glimpse into their members’ lives, inspirations and creative processes.

Matt Joyce, Matt Selic, Owen Avon (L-R) filmed and recorded the performances and interviews for “Our Hidden Hills,” keeping the team small in order to respect all of the COVID-19 restrictions. Photo courtesy Matt Selic
Matt Joyce, Matt Selic, Owen Avon (L-R) filmed and recorded the performances and interviews for “Our Hidden Hills,” keeping the team small in order to respect all of the COVID-19 restrictions. Photo courtesy Matt Selic

Premiered Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. on the 100 Mile Arts Network’s YouTube channel, the first episode will explore the Pontiac, offering much more than just a series of pre-recorded performances, according to Matt Selic, the Network’s artistic director.

“It's less performance-based and more of an exposé — a glimpse into the artists’ lives, what makes them tick, what inspires them and what their creative process is like,” explained Selic.

While each episode will still feature artistic performances, Selic said that the intention of the showcase is to introduce the artists to a wider audience, showcasing not just the artist and their personality, but the personality of the region that inspires their art as well.

“One of the nice things about doing it in this format is that we are going to these regions,” Selic said. “We get to actually go to these places, go to their homes and see what it is that inspires them, which is something you might not be able to see with everyone travelling to the same venue for a live showcase.”

Each episode of the three-part series will examine one of the three regions that the Network covers: first to the Pontiac MRC on Feb. 24; then north to La-Vallee-de-la-Gatineau on Mar. 3; and finally south to the MRC des Collines on Mar. 10.

Selic recommends viewers try and watch the episodes that feature regions they don’t live in. Even though they are keeping tight-lipped about the line-ups for each episode, he explained that the goal is to try and “surprise” viewers with art and venues they don’t already know about.

“Most people know what's going on in their own backyard, but a lot of people are less aware of their neighbouring regions, so we want to try and share these artists with a wider audience,” Selic explained. “We want people in Pontiac to learn more about what's happening in Maniwaki and vice versa.”

Paul Brown, the Network’s general manager, explained that the original plan had been for the showcase to be a live event in a physical building, with the goal of bringing audiences and artists from across the region together to discover new artists, book acts or even plan an entire tour around the Network’s directory of venues.

“We can't do exactly what we normally would in a physical venue, but that would be kind of boring anyway,” Brown added, regarding the closure of live music venues since March 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “This is kind of a blended idea.”

Brown explained that the network had received funding from the Canadian Heritage at the beginning of 2020 in order to organize a live showcase, but once COVID-19 restrictions took effect, they, like everyone else, had to figure a way to pivot.

“We want to do an annual conference/showcase over a weekend where people could come together for performances and really connect with each other,” Brown said, adding that, while ideally they will be doing live events in the future, in some way they will continue to make recorded series like this one. “What the next thing will be depends a lot on funding and the post-shutdown aspect of the community whenever we can do things live.”

The 100 Mile Arts Network is a free resource for the region's artists, acting as a hub for artists and venues to connect to strengthen the rural, artistic communities in the Outaouais. All of the artists featured in the series are members of the Network, and if viewers enjoy any or all of them, they are encouraged to visit to find how to support their art or follow them on social media.

The first episode of the 100 Mile Art Network’s “Our Hidden Hills” premiered Feb. 24, at 7 p.m., and is available on their YouTube channel.


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