Workshop Series

A person holds a book while in a workshop reading.

Build Skills. Spark Discussion. Refine Practices. Get Involved. All online. The Nextfest Arts Company presents the Nextfest Workshop Series.

The platform has changed but the connections have not. We’re bridging the gap between artistic training and the real world of being an artist through the internet.

Workshops will invite dedicated professional mentors and experts from the professional arts communities to teach, lead, and facilitate workshops directed at artistic skill growth, the business of being an artist, and the sustainability of artistic careers.

Participants will be given a common ground for discussion and the unique opportunity to learn from like-minded individuals.

Workshops are free for all emerging artists. Workshops slots can be claimed by signing up below. Sign up soon – all slots are on a first-come, first-served basis, and space is limited.

For all workshops, registrants will receive a link to the Zoom event via e-mail closer to the date of their session.

Our 2021 Workshop Lineup: 

Here are the workshops that have already happened:

  1. Decolonizing The Arts; Treaty Relations, Inclusivity, and Guidance
  2. Like and Subscribe: Making and Sharing Art With A Digital Audience
  3. NONDancing
  4. Frazzled Can’t Produce: Practical Tips for Managing Stress and Avoiding Burnout
  5. Anatomy of a Short Film
  6. Audio Engineering Fundamentals
  7. On Songwriting (From a Sad Indie Them)
  8. The Artist’s Journey
  9. Distributing and Promoting Music
  10. The Camera Loves You: Self Tapes 
  11. Language & Art: an exploration of how we make art in more than one language
  12. Intro to Voice Acting (Animation and Commercial)
  13. Playwrighting Basics

Scroll down for more information on each workshop.


These workshops have passed.

Decolonizing The Arts; Treaty Relations, Inclusivity, and Guidance

With Mackenzie Brown! 

WHEN: Thursday, June 3rd, 10:30 AM-12 PM MST

WHAT: Join Mackenzie, Indigenous Artist, Drummer, and Development Manager for Indigenous Tourism Alberta for a discussion on what decolonization in the arts can mean, and the steps to get there. We will cover: 

  • Indigenous guidance for live performances (Land Acknowledgments, opening ceremonies, etc.) – BIPOC mentorship/inclusivity
  • Indigenous practice in Canadian theatre such as smudging, and ways that Indigenous artists use their backgrounds to influence their professional theatre practice, and how Canadian theatre can evolve past a colonial lense

CONTENT WARNING: There will be talks of colonization 

WHO: Mackenzie Brown is a First Nations Cree woman from the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, currently residing in Amiskwaciwaskahikan, Edmonton. She is a performer, drummer, tourism entrepreneur, philanthropist, and advocate for at-risk youth in the Edmonton area. Mackenzie and her mom perform as “Warrior Women”. They drum and teach around Alberta for the Northern Alberta Teachers Conference, the annual Jasper Dark Skies Festival, Youth Dream Catchers Conference, Canada Day, Aboriginal Day festivities, and more. Along with drumming, Mackenzie is also an avid acrylic artist and traditional First Nations crafts artisan. Her art has been featured in the Pump House Gallery, the Edson Gallery Museum, the Gray Gallery Grant MacEwan, recognized for the Alberta Indian Arts and Crafts Award of 2017, featured for the Alberta Business Competition 2017, and sold to people travelling worldwide at Jasper Park Lodge. She is the recent recipient of the 2019 Esquao Award for Children’s Future, 2019 Indigenous Woman of the year from the Alberta Assembly of First Nations, and Top 30 under 30 From Alberta Corporation for Global Cooperation 2020. Mackenzie was also recently highlighted as the only Indigenous and Albertan artist on the reality TV show Landscape Artist of the Year Canada where she placed in the top 3 finalists. 

WHERE: Registrants will receive a link to the Zoom event via e-mail 24hrs before the workshop start time. 

**Please bring an open mind and good intentions! 

This workshop has passed.


Like and Subscribe: Making and Sharing Art With A Digital Audience

With Gender? I Hardly Know Them’s Elena Belyea and Syd Campbell! 

WHEN: Friday, June 4th, 2-3:30 PM MST 

WHAT: Learn how to make + share art online, and (maybe most importantly!) help your audience find it with “Gender? I Hardly Know Them” funny guys, Elena Eli Belyea, and Syd Campbell. @genderihardlyknowthem 

WHO: “Gender? I Hardly Know Them” is a queer sketch duo, making yuks about growing up gay, short, and hot in the gun-toting, beef-loving Alberta prairies. 

WHERE: Registrants will receive a link to the Zoom event via e-mail 24hrs before the workshop start time. 

This workshop has passed.



With Rock Bottom Movement’s Alyssa Martin! 

WHEN: Saturday, June 5th, 12 PM-2 PM MST 

WHAT: In NONDancing we radically set the bar so low we have no choice but to soar! Using absurd imagery we will gather and learn a piece of unison choreography to a ridiculously obvious pop song. We will repeat this choreography, laughing at ourselves and trying to conjure the feeling of superstardom. In the second part of our workshop, we’ll try a self-directed creative process, spurred by a surreal set of task-based activities. This is a no-pressure, all play, sweaty-in-a-fun-way collective dance party; guided by Alyssa for clarity, ease (and so you feel taken care of at the wonky dance spa!) 

WHO: Alyssa Martin (Rock Bottom Movement) is a choreographer, director & performance maker. She uses radical, diligent play to create dance theatre work alongside friends and sparkling collaborators. Her feminist-focused works use mischievous energy to explore the human psyche with a playful, tongue-in-cheek approach. She’s created and shared 25 new dance theatre works and often collaborates in the theatre, film, and musical theatre realms. She tries to approach creation, education, and performance with a pressure-free, toss the noodles on the wall energy! 

WHERE: Registrants will receive a link to the Zoom event via e-mail 24hrs before the workshop start time. 

*Please have on hand comfortable clothes you can move in; runners may be helpful if you’re participating on concrete, hard flooring, or outdoors; water nearby; something to write with/on.

This workshop has passed.


Frazzled Can’t Produce: Practical Tips for Managing Stress and Avoiding Burnout 

With therapist Deepika Mittra! 

WHEN: Sunday, June 6th, 12 PM-2 PM MST 

WHAT: When we are so passionate about creating, it can be hard to draw the line between work and play, or what feeds or depletes you. This is always true, and especially so post Covid with having to re-jig work into new virtual formats, working from home, constant uncertainty… As creative individuals, when work can be so intricately tied to our passions, it can be hard to find the right balance. We can get so busy with our to-do’s that we don’t make time to rejuvenate ourselves. This can lead to high stress levels and burnout. Take time for prioritizing wellness in this workshop full of self-reflection, experiential exercises, and practical tips. 

CONTENT WARNING: Given the topic, strong emotions or memories may be provoked. 

WHO: Deepika Mittra is a therapist, stress expert, and self-care advocate. With a background in dance, science, and social work, Deepika emphasizes the link between mind and body to manage life experiences and increase wellness. She is an in-demand speaker, whose talks inspire attendees to become active agents in their own well-being. She has authored Social Media & Technology: How to Use It Without Being Consumed By It and created a game, Move Your Memory, helping families practice yoga in a playful and accessible way. Her most recent creative endeavour, art cards, are still in boxes waiting to be sent into the world… 

WHERE: Registrants will receive a link to the Zoom event via e-mail 24hrs before the workshop start time. 

**Please bring paper, pen, coloured pencils/markers, water bottle, comfy spot, pillow, blankey… what makes you feel good! 

This workshop has passed.


Anatomy of a Short Film 

With GIFT’s (Girls in Film and Television) Elise Graham! 

WHEN: Monday, June 7th, 12 PM-3 PM MST 

WHAT: We will walk through every step of the short film The Collectibles with  Producer/Director Elise Graham. From script to production to post, you will get to look at audition tapes, early concepts, props in the works, shot lists, sound effects, sparing no detail – it’s a how-to guide! 

CONTENT WARNING: There is implied drug use in the film, some strong language.

WHO: Elise Graham has been working in film and television for more than 15 years, her career spanning across some of the most prolific production companies in Alberta. She has worked as a production coordinator, script supervisor, 1st AD, digital media project manager, supervising producer, and production supervisor. Elise now works as an independent producer and is currently serving as Director of Operations for GIFT (Girls in Film and Television), a nonprofit that provides mentorship and training to teen girls looking toward film as a career.

WHERE: Participants will receive a link to the Zoom event via e-mail 24hrs before the workshop start time. 

**Please bring something to write with if you wish! 

This workshop has passed.

Girls in Film and Television logo


Audio Engineering Fundamentals 

With Helm Studio’s Josh Eastman! 

WHEN: Monday, June 7th, 4 PM-6 PM MST 

WHAT: In this workshop, we will discuss the fundamentals of audio engineering, and how to create high-quality audio for music, film, podcasting, and more! We will discuss the process of creating an album/EP and the various stages of engineering involved. We will also have a Q&A component to discuss any relevant topics for creatives in any discipline! 

WHO: Josh Eastman is a Vancouver-based music producer, composer, educator, engineer, multi-instrumentalist, and executive director of western Canada’s only not-for-profit music studio Helm Studios. Their work has been featured on CBC radio, DC Comics “Legends of Tomorrow”, and in Exclaim! magazine. Josh has worked alongside Juno, Tony, and Polaris nominated artists and become a sought-after collaborator by many up-and-coming artists. 

WHERE: Participants will receive a link to the Zoom event via e-mail 24hrs before the workshop start time. 

**Please bring something to write with if you wish. 

This workshop has passed.


On Songwriting (From a Sad Indie Them) 

With Paxsi! 

WHEN: Tuesday, June 8th from 1 PM-3:30 PM MST 

PLEASE NOTE: This workshop is open to QTBIPOC community members only, and will include a writing exercise that centers around memories and experiences. Alongside Nextfest, Paxsi will work to ensure this workshop is a safer, more accessible space for QTBIPOC community members to be creative and to handle each other’s memories and experiences with tenderness and care. 

WHAT: On Songwriting (From a Sad Indie Them) is a songwriting writing workshop for QTBIPOC musicians, writers, and creatives of all types. In this workshop, Paxsi will guide participants through their songwriting process and approach, as well as a lyric-writing exercise. Together, participants will analyze examples of lyrics, chord progressions, and songwriting to better understand the songwriting process. On Songwriting (From a Sad Indie Them) will leave participants with the necessary skills to write tender, honest, and heartfelt songs, poetry, and more. No experience is required to participate in this workshop. 

CONTENT WARNING: There will be one song example that deals with feels surrounding pandemic isolation, including suicidal thoughts and addictions 

WHO: Paxsi (they/them/jupa) is a two-spirit Aymara and Welsh-Irish songwriter, educator, and self-taught multidisciplinary artist based in amiskwaciywâskahikan. Through their practice, Paxsi tenderly unpacks the complexities of navigating intergenerational trauma as they come into their identity as a queer, trans, and neurodivergent person. With a passion for 2SLGBTQ+ liberation and racial justice, Paxsi’s art, poetry, and music offer moments of honesty and truthfulness. They hope to nurture queer, trans, disabled, and BIPOC community through a practice that is raw, vulnerable, and charged. 

WHERE: Participants will receive a Zoom link to the workshop 24hrs in advance of the start time. 

**Participants will need to bring paper and writing implements, chords and lyrics for two of their favourite songs (printed copies recommended), and a photograph or object from their home that brings them comfort and safety. Instruments are optional.

This workshop has passed.


The Artist’s Journey 

With Elsa Robinson! 

WHEN: Wednesday, June 9th, 12 PM-2 PM MST 

WHAT: As an artist, there are so many different things we experience and consider. Elsa will share her journey in her art career covering a wide range of topics including selection of medium; developing style; developing voice; writing grant applications; writing show applications; teaching workshops; pricing art and workshops. Participants will also do an intuitive drawing activity. 

WHO: Elsa Robinson is an Edmonton-based mixed media artist, sculptor, and painter whose decades-long devotion to artistic practice has imbued her work with vibrancy, versatility, and an intuitive spiritual poignancy. She began her art career as a self-taught artist. She now holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Alberta’s Art and Design program and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Vermont College of Fine Art. Through her years of study, Elsa has honed the ability to transmit her deep love and care for humanity using a range of visual modes. 

With careful attention to colour, shape, texture, intuition, and the power of cultural symbols, Elsa is able to express thee notions of love, friendship, inner strength, equality, and ancestral connection that must powerfully guide her own life. For her ability to distill, in the space of a single image, the wisdoms and experiences that are most important to the human condition, Elsa Robinson has become a celebrated and award-winning artist. Most notably, she was the recipient of the 2012 Fill Fraser Award of Outstanding Working in visual Arts, as awarded by the National Black Coalition of Canada as well as a recipient of the Cultural Diversity in the Arts Grant from the Edmonton Arts Council in 2008, 2016, 2018 and the Individual Artist Grant in 2020. 

Elsa Robinson is also a passionate and experienced art educator who facilitates workshops for artists of all ages and experience levels. Her devotion, skill, craft, and spiritual fortitude have allowed her to forge a much-respected and versatile place within the artistic communities of Edmonton. She is a community builder who uses her remarkable artistry to create conversation, reflection, and moments of undeniable emotional connection, wherein the humanity of the viewer, and the artist herself, are held in mutual integrity and esteem. 

WHERE: Participants will receive a Zoom link to the workshop 24hrs in advance of the start time **Please bring drawing paper and a pencil! 

This workshop has passed.


Distributing and Promoting Music 

With Festival Producer Simone A. Medina Polo AKA pseudo-antigone! 

PLEASE NOTE: The workshop will centre the musical endeavours of BIPoC, Queer and Trans folks, and the intersections in between these communities 

WHEN: Thursday, June 10th, 1 PM-3 PM MST 

WHAT: Simone A. Medina Polo, aka. pseudo-antigone will break down how the promotion and distribution of her debut full-length album worked out. On the promotion side, she will discuss drafting emails, media releases, and media kits for sending your musical releases to media publications and radio stations. And on the distribution side, she will discuss distributing music through various tools for releasing music in various streaming services and services for promotional distribution. 

WHO: pseudo-antigone is the hyperpop production moniker for Simone A. Medina Polo, a mestizo trans-woman interdisciplinary artist based out of Edmonton, Alberta. Over the course of 2020, pseudo-antigone picked up the reins of her music through audio engineering and attentiveness to technical production inspired by a love of midi, PC music, and electronic experiments – covering a wide-ranging sound, pseudo-antigone’s production is an exploration of various pop sounds as she learns to up her production game, always upping the bar with curious and experimental intent. 

WHERE: Participants will receive a Zoom link to the workshop 24hrs in advance of the start time.

**Please bring something to write with to make a checklist! 

This workshop has passed.


The Camera Loves You: Self Tapes 

Back by popular demand with Chantal Perron! 

WHEN: Friday, June 11th, 12:30 PM-3:30 PM MST 

WHAT: Self Tapes are EASY! As long as you: know all the rules, know everything that makes Casting Directors and Producers turned off, know the difference between audition and on-set, know about sound and light, know stillness and specificity in performance, understand eyelines and what they do for your tape…All those answers and more! Like I said, Self Tapes are EASY! (and totally fun once you know what you’re doing) This is a skill with which we must become proficient as actors. It will be a more used way of Casting for both film and Theatre from now on. 

CONTENT WARNING: Perhaps a casual swear here and there.

WHO: Chantal Perron offers 20 years of experience in the Alberta film industry. Easily one of the province’s top bookers, she also has worked as a stand-in on set, and works for casting directors as an experienced, trusted reader in the audition room. 

As an educator in her field since 2005, Chantal has lectured at Red Deer College, SAIT, various regional high schools, and has been a facilitator and teacher for the Ultimate Audition Workshop out of Vancouver. Chantal taught public speaking to elite young athletes at the National Sports School and taught Film Studies at Playhouse North for 3 years. Her small company, The Camera Loves You, has developed film audition and scene study workshops for all age groups. It has grown into a very popular set of classes and when one is offered, it fills within hours. She is the recipient of the 2005 AMPIA Award for Best Actress for Chicks with Sticks. Chantal is also an accomplished theatre actor working on professional Alberta stages since 2000. She has been nominated for three Betty Mitchell Awards for her work in The Dazzle (2005) Scorched (2007), and Aviatrix (2012). 

WHERE: Participants will receive a Zoom link to the workshop 24hrs in advance of the start time. This workshop has limited spots so sign up early to guarantee a place! 

**Please bring something to write with if you wish! Students of this class will have 2 weeks after the class to complete a homework assignment and receive feedback on it if they choose.

This workshop has passed.


Language & Art: an exploration of how we make art in more than one language 

With Sophie Gareau-Brennan, Chris Dodd, Joëlle Préfontaine, and Makram Ayache!

WHEN: Saturday, June 12th, 11 AM-1 PM MST 

WHAT: Do you speak more than one language? Are you interested in learning how to incorporate your plurilingual identity into your art-making? In this session, artists will share how language connects with their art-making practice. There will also be an interactive section where each artist shares a creation activity with participants of the workshop. We will close the session with a moderated Q&A.

CONTENT WARNING: This workshop could lead to discussions of marginalization and discrimination. 

WHERE: Participants will receive a Zoom link to the workshop 24hrs in advance of the start of the workshop time. 

*Please bring something to create with! (i.e journal, laptop, tablet, etc.) 

This workshop has passed.


Intro to Voice Acting (Animation and Commercial) 

With Sunny Chen! 

WHEN: Saturday, June 12th, 1:30 PM-3:30 PM MST 

WHAT: Sunny will teach physical and vocal warm-up techniques, (free) equipment and software voice actors (including me) use for self-record requests/auditions, the difference between animation and commercial voice-over, and the Canadian industry in general. Ideally, 8-10 active participants/volunteers will try out 2 animation copies and 2 commercial copies each (which I’ll provide), and I’d give them tips/redirection. Then a Q&A to finish off! 

WHO: Sunny Chen (they+she) was born in Nanjing, China, with ancestors from Sichuan and Hubei. They moved to Canada at the age of six and completed school on stolen lands belonging to the Matsqui, Kwantlen, Katzie, and Semiahmoo Nations, colonially known as “Langley, British Columbia.” Sunny obtained a student loan and moved to Musqueam, Squamish, and Tseil Waututh lands, or “Vancouver”, at 17, and earned their BA in psychology, with a minor in English literature. She’s a survivor of sexual violence and the creator and showrunner of the Open Ethnicity series. Sunny creates, nurtures community, and heals. They’re grateful to be able to provide high-quality narration voice-over for visually impaired and blind audiences to enjoy moving media. 

WHERE: Participants will receive a Zoom link to the workshop 24hrs in advance of the start of the workshop time. 

**Please bring something to write with if you wish! There will be a portion of the workshop where Sunny will ask for volunteers to try out a voice audition.

This workshop has passed.


Playwrighting Basics 

With Festival Director Ellen Chorley! 

WHEN: Sunday, June 13th, 12 PM-2 PM MST 

WHAT: Got an idea for a play, but not sure where to start? Ellen will take you through the building blocks of creating a play and discuss how to use storytelling structure to bring out your authentic voice. This class is for beginner playwrights, if you have done some playwriting before and you are looking for specific feedback, dramaturgy or advice from Ellen, it may be better to book a one-on-one mentorship session with her. (Or you can do both! Or none! I’m not the boss of you!) 

CONTENT WARNING: Ellen may swear.

WHO: Ellen Chorley is the Festival Director of the Nextfest Arts Company and oversees the artistic direction of the Curator team, Showcases, and Nite Clubs teams and curates the Theatre section of Nextfest. As a playwright, Ellen has been writing for 20 years (!) with performances of her plays all over Canada. Ellen also teaches playwrighting at the Citadel Theatre and guest teaches at many schools around Edmonton. Most recently her play “Everybody Loves Robbie” was nominated for multiple Sterling awards and shortlisted for the Alberta Literary Awards Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama. For more information on Ellen, check out her website 

WHERE: Participants will receive a Zoom link to the workshop 24hrs in advance of the start of the workshop time. 

**Please bring something to write with! 

This workshop has passed.


Workshop Partners: