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Contemporary Culture HeaderContemporary Culture HeaderAlthough Prince Edward Island’s cultural heritage is significantly influenced by the cultures of our early pioneer settlers, our contemporary arts and culture scene has evolved to become a unique and innovative expression of who we are in the 1990s. For such a small province, this expression can take a surprising diversity of forms—it is even said that Prince Edward Island has more artists per capita than any other province in Canada.

Islanders enticed by acting can find creative outlets through numerous local and provincial theatre groups, including the Kensington Theatre Company, TheatrePEI, ACT-A Community Theatre, the Murray Harbour Theatre Company, and the UPEI Theatre Society. At any given time during the year, one or more of these troupes can be seen on a Kensington Theater Co.community stage somewhere on the Island. Prince Edward Island’s musical community is humming with independent artists and groups playing virtually all genres in the musical spectrum—jazz and blues, progressive rock, folk-industrial, traditional folk, and Latin beats. Many of these musicians have released albums with local and international record labels. Prince Edward Islanders are also fortunate to enjoy local symphonies, chorales, and classical quartets. Artists of the written word benefit from locally based publishers such as Ragweed Press, Acorn Press, and periodical publications such as blue shift’s poetry series. Atlantic Canada’s only arts periodical is an Island publication edited by Joseph Sherman. ARTSatlantic features and reviews the work of practising painters, printmakers, sculptors, photographers, and craftspeople.

Regional arts councils, such as the Malpak Arts Council and the West Prince, Eastern Kings, and Southern Kings Arts Councils, are active in promoting and encouraging artistic and cultural activity in their areas. They serve as clearinghouses for communication and liaison between groups while offering classes and workshops for their members as well as the general public.

On a province-wide level, the Prince Edward Island Council of the Arts, a non-profit organization established in 1974, serves the Island’s arts community by promoting education and awareness of the arts. The council is governed by a board of directors elected from each of the artistic disciplines practised on Prince Edward Island—crafts, dance, film, music, publishing, theatre, visual arts, writing, and environmental arts. Membership consists of numerous artistic organizations and acclaimed individuals. Examples from this illustrious group include: award-winning writer H. Shirley Horne; landscape painter and world-renown Gail Rutherford; printmaker and author Erica Rutherford; and visual artist Mary Carr-Chaisson, who works with drawing, painting, and photography.

The council functions as a link between artists, organizations, and the government and operates funding programs to assist artistic endeavours—the Adrien Arsenault Senior Arts Award for established artists, the Council of the Arts Grants to Artists and Organizations, the Art Education Bursary Program, and the Island Literary Awards. Of the Literary Awards, there are four: the Carl Sentner Short Story Award, the Milton Acorn Poetry Competition, the Theatre PEI New Voices One-Act Playwriting Award, and the Prince Edward Island Children’s Literary Award. Arts Guild

The Prince Edward Island Council of the Arts operates the Arts Guild at the corner of Queen and Richmond Streets in Charlottetown. The Guild serves as a living arts centre, an “Off-Broadway” to the Confederation Centre’s “Broadway.” The Guild is the site of public exhibitions and performances and provides a permanent base of support, resource-sharing, and community building among Island artists, both emerging and established.