The Nextfest Arts Company is made up of hundreds of young and emerging artists from a wide variety of disciplines, banding together to present Edmonton’s most unique annual multi-disciplinary arts festival: Nextfest. Founded in 1996 by Bradley Moss, Nextfest is a common ground for the next generation of creators and producers. The future is theirs!
Nextfest shepherds the development of emerging artists. It is curated on the basis of providing development opportunities for emerging professional artists to hone their craft, gain experience, make contacts, and step forward as the future of professional arts. In doing so, we instil in the emerging generation an appreciation for the importance of mentorship. There are many ways in which artistic entities, products, and relationship have grown out of Nextfest, and there are numerous examples of new works of theatre and dance, that may have never made it to the stage, and ongoing artist collaborations that may have never come to be, without the existence of Nextfest.
Nextfest marks the beginning of a long creative journey for a huge array of artists. For more than twenty years, we have fostered the growth and learning of thousands of artists who continue to practice and create on Treaty 6 land. We embody the spirit of newness and growth while respecting the deep roots planted by those who came before us. We are a platform for emerging artists, a meeting ground for community, a springboard for creative invention. Mentorship, inclusion, learning, creative risk, and vulnerability are at the core of everything we stand for.
HISTORY OF NEXTFEST
Nextfest was created out of the need to support the voice of the emerging professional artist, a place where the young artist was nurtured. Like any occupation, you cannot get opportunities until you get the experience, a twenty-something loop that is hard to break. Nextfest is a multidisciplinary festival where artists from different fields develop relationships, a meeting place to exchange ideas and grow. What we did not realize is that what Nextfest is truly doing is building our artistic community.
In 1996, Bradley Moss created the festival and it was launched with over 100 artists and six days of events, and we knew immediately we had something special. Bradley Moss was the festival director from 1996 thru 1998, with Glenda Sterling becoming the new festival director in 1999 and 2000. During Glenda’s time, Nextfest published its first anthology of plays. In 2001, Steve Pirot became the Festival Director and he expanded the festival from 6 days to 11 days. Festival Director from 2001 thru 2016, Steve published a second anthology of new plays and brought many new initiatives to Nextfest. Our garden grew under Steve Pirot so much that we created a new Festival Manager position and brought Murray Utas aboard in 2008. Together they pushed the festival to serve over 500 emerging artists on a yearly basis that we maintain today. In 2014 Maggie Barton Baird became the new Festival Manager and with Steve, they helped Nextfest evolve and grow, and they had the difficult task of creating a festival without its home venue, as the Roxy Theatre was lost to a fire in 2015. In 2016, Steve Pirot stepped aside and Ellen Chorley became the Festival Director.
In 2020, after Nextfest’s first online version of the festival, Maggie Barton Baird announced that she was to transition out of this role to create room for new energy and perspective while staying on to offer mentorship to the next Festival Producer. Simone A. Medina Polo became our new Festival Producer in late 2020.
Today, Ellen, Maggie, and Simone are working together as leaders of Edmonton’s “Art of a Generation,” where new stories, new music, and new emerging voices are celebrated.
Maggie Baird, Outgoing Festival Producer
Simone A. Medina Polo, Incoming Festival Producer
Ellen Chorley, Festival Director
Scott Peters, Production Manager
Reanna Pilkington, Marketing & Communications Manager & Artist Liaison
Steven Teeuwsen, Graphic Designer & Ad Sales Agent
Becky Sadowski (Good Women Dance Collective), Dance Curator
Katie Cutting, Film Curator
Olivia Street, Music Curator
Jennifer Peebles, Highschool Curator
NEXTFEST BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Bradley Moss, President
Andy Laskiwsky, Treasurer
Kevin Hendricks, Director
Murray Utas, Director
Michael Kennard, Director