Public Energy’s Emergency festival celebrated its 20th year this year. The annual festival celebrates the creative works of emerging and established artists alike, performing and presenting all forms of art. A hallmark of this festival would seem to be that it brings performance and art out of the gallery and turns the streets of downtown into its stage.

This year Emergency #20 coped with bad and unpredictable weather, having to move its first of two alley Waltz’s indoors. They were offered shelter in the Peterborough square mall and demonstrated heartening adaptive and improvisation skills with the last minute change of plans.

Alley Waltz performances included a dance solo, a spoken word piece which included dancers, a mandolin duet involving dance, and two dance performances that involved fire.

The festival ran from May 8-12, only asking people for a pay-what-you-can donation, with the suggestion that $10 would be fair. It was made very clear that all donations would go back to the artists performing to help them continue their work in the community. Donors at the $10 mark received a gold star sticker of appreciation.

Overall, even when performances touched on serious subject matter, the festival fostered a casual and welcoming atmosphere. The attendees varied from students to older community members, and from groups of friends to young families with small children. Organizers also campaigned effectively to bring unsuspecting passers-by into the fun.

Festivals like this can play a key role in fostering new talent. Finding a publicly visible stage to showcase one’s work could easily be ranked as one of the most challenging hurdles for emerging and growing artists. Emergency’s performers included older community members, experienced performers, and young, experimenting artists.

From persevering through bad weather to showcasing new and familiar talent alike in a creative way, Emergency #20 demonstrated why this annual tradition is celebrating its 20th year in Peterborough. Public Energy will continue to support local talent and bring art to the streets of downtown for many years to come.