It was a full house at the 15th annual Artists Among us Gala by the Hope Bridges Society at Hope's Covenant Church yesterday; every seat was filled to celebrate the fine arts and the power music has in connecting the community!

Musicians from all across the community and surrounding areas shared their talents in what was a wildly entertaining and wonderful show. Sheila Konschuh is a chairperson and a founder of Hope Bridges Society, and she explained the organization is all about using the arts to promote inclusivity.

"Our organization is driven by the power of belonging, and we use music and arts activities as a catalyst for connection," she explained.

eThe Cool Cats were a fan favourite, they know how to put on a show!

The Artists Among Us Gala is the perfect encapsulation of what the organization is all about, as the performers can all celebrate their talents and music, while the audience is right alongside them in the celebration. Konschuh added the arts especially is a great way to be connected, which is very important.

"There is something quite magical about music or arts activities, opening a pathway to a meaningful connection with another person. And I think there's been lots of really good evidence in the past several years around how loneliness can affect one's health. When you have some meaningful relationships in your life, you are much more likely to be safer and happier than if you're missing those connections."


While the Hope Bridges Society does work all year round, the Artists Among Us Gala is a special way to celebrate the friendships and community built by engaging in the arts together.

"It's a symbol of how community is strengthened when everyone is included. Everyone's voice and everyone's presence is beautiful and valuable."

As for what the organization does the rest of the year, weekly music sessions alternating between singing and drumming gets everyone involved in music, while pre-packaged art projects are designed and delivered to anybody who asks for them.

The art projects are a great way to stay connected even without being in a group, as Konschuh explained working on art gets you involved, and meeting the person who delivers the art is also a great way to make connections and friends. You can do these art kits on your own or in a group, which is also a way to get involved in the community through art.

"It really is a reminder that when you're together with people, you connect with people because of an activity. It opens up the opportunity for friendship and it makes a big difference to the quality of your life."


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