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TALENT SLAM video posted online!

Click here to see video on FaceBook - Please Share the video and Like the new Youth Arts Festival FaceBook page and stay tuned for the 3rd annual Youth Arts Festival coming February 2017!

Check out this awesome video made by Youth Arts Festival filmmakers Aydin Long, Noah Gaffran and Graham Sherman, to promote the TALENT SLAM auditions! The video features artists; Bronwen Bird, Griffin Nowaczynski, Hannah DeBoer-Smith, Hugo St-Denis, Isabel McKenzie, Jess Treijs, Emma Weiland, Dierdra McCrory, Mia Kraus, Laela Heidt, Jasmine Popoff, Lucas Burrows Noah Waldie, Soren Hvenegaard, Sophie MP, Clayton Mallette, Alex Harper, Clayton Whalen, Kyra Von Matt, Tomas Caldwell, Sensia Perey and Thomas Caldwell and was shot during the 2016 TALENT SLAM auditions.

2017 TALENT SLAM auditions take place Saturday, January 28th in Trail and Sunday, January 29th in Nelson between 1 to 5pm. Register for auditions online at

In the spirit of encouraging young artists in our community, Oxygen Art Centre is thrilled to announce the 3rd annual Youth Arts Festival! If you are between the ages of 15 and 29 and live in the West Kootenays, come try out for the festival’s premiere event and showcase your gifts at the Talent Slam! (Register for auditions online at

music / singing / dancing / acting / comedy / performance art / poetry / spoken word

Talent Slam goes on the road to Trail!

The 3rd annual Youth Arts Festival will see festival programming expand to include events in both Nelson and Trail! Talent Slam auditions will now take place in Nelson and in Trail and selected acts will perform two nights; one at the Capitol Theatre in Nelson and again at The Bailey Theatre in Trail! Also new for this year, the Backstage Lounge at Oxygen Art Centre will be developed into a small stage venue so everyone who auditions will get an opportunity to perform during the festival!

Auditions for the Talent Slam will take place at The Bailey Theatre in Trail on Saturday, January 28th between 1pm and 5pm and at the Capitol Theatre in Nelson on Sunday January 29th between 1pm and 5pm. (Register for auditions online at

Selected acts will receive one-on-one mentorship with either Lucas Myers, Bessie Wapp, Slava Doval or Nadine Tremblay to develop their acts for the big night! The festival will also be a mentored work experience opportunity for the Youth Coordinators involved in producing the festival.

The 3rd annual Youth Arts Festival and Oxygen Art Centre gratefully acknowledges festival sponsors: British Columbia Arts Council, Province of British Columbia, Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, Columbia Basin Trust, Osprey Community Foundation, Can-Filters and Business for the Arts sponsors Hall Printing, Nelson Star,, and 103.5 JUICE FM.

(Register for auditions online at

Trail TALENT SLAM audition:
Nelson TALENT SLAM audition:

320 Vernon St (alley entrance)
250 352 6322
Or find us on FaceBook!

Founders talk - Saturday, January 21st at 4pm

​ The resiliency of West Kootenay artists who, after being fired en masse from Nelson’s Kootenay School of the Arts in 2002 went on to start the city’s only artist-run centre, will be the subject of a talk by five of the founding members of the Oxygen Art Centre on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 4p.m.​

​The founders’ talk is part of Oxygen’s exhibit and other happenings celebrating a decade and half of programming. Admission is free and the event is open to the public. The Oxygen Art Centre is located at 320 Vernon St. (alley entrance).

​Speaking Jan. 21 will be West Kootenay artists Natasha Smith and Boukje Elzinga, and writers Verna Relkoff and Tom Wayman. Moderating will be Nelson artist Deb Thompson. All were part of the mixed media or writing departments at KSA when their departments were abruptly abolished in the spring of 2002.

​In exploring why these and other former KSA faculty chose to create another viable arts institution in the city, rather than simply fade away, the speakers on Jan. 21 will retrace the route from KSA to the current configuration of Oxygen. Topics to be considered include the closure of Nelson’s David Thompson University Centre in 1984, arts education in a rural community, leadership at KSA, starting the Nelson Fine Arts Centre, and Oxygen’s mandate and development over the years. 

​“Oxygen arose from the resolve of local arts instructors to continue to provide the community with arts education opportunities that suddenly had been curtailed,” said Oxygen’s current executive director Miriam Needoba.

​“While Oxygen has evolved since that initial intent of its founders, Oxygen’s story is an inspiring one in an era when every form of public enrichment—from public health care to art and music programs in the schools—is threatened with reduction or abolition. And 2017 represents just the latest chapter in Oxygen’s ongoing and exciting story,” Needoba said.

​The current exhibition at Oxygen, Memory Palaces, is the product of an initiative to process and digitalize the centre’s archives. The exhibition will also be developed into an online archive and all materials will also be stored in accordance with archival standards.​


New exhibition celebrates over a decade of arts programing at Oxygen!


Throughout 2017 Oxygen Art Centre will stage many events that reflect the work of the centre over the past 14 years.  Oxygen Art Centre was founded as the Nelson Fine Arts Centre Society in May 2002.  On January 5th, 2005 the Society opened its doors at its current studio location in downtown Nelson and soon after started doing business as Oxygen Art Centre.   On January 5th, 2017 the Memory Palaces exhibition will open at Oxygen.  This exhibition celebrates the history of this dynamic Artist Run Centre.  We invite you to join us for a walk down memory lane and into the future!
Over the past month Oxygen's staff and community members have embarked on a residency to process, digitize and install all of its archives in an exhibition called Memory Palaces.  The exhibition will also be developed into an online archive and all materials will also be stored in accordance with archival standards.   What is a ‘Memory Palace’?  So the story goes…  In ancient Rome there was an important meeting with many people in attendance, including some of the great minds of the time.  The meeting was held in a Coliseum type building and when an earthquake hit, the building collapsed and many people were killed and many missing!  In an effort to try to figure out who had been there and who was missing, all the survivors came together to try to remember.  One by one, they began to visualize the room; who was standing next to you and who was behind them?  On and on they went until they were able to reconstruct the room entirely and everyone in it!   They were using a mnemonic technique called a Memory Palace.
In the spirit of this process Oxygen Art Centre will be engaging people in the community to help develop a collective memory of the history of the centre, one that will also serve to help define the centre and its place and role in the community.   This exhibition will engage the public by asking those who have been past patrons and participants at Oxygen, to help contribute to a collective memory of Oxygen Art Centre through reflection, and in response to memory triggers in the exhibition.

Oxygen Art Centre is an artist run centre and community arts organization that has now completed 14 years of successful arts education programming and 11 years of full season programming including; 200 courses since 2002, 38 exhibitions since 2005, 27 one-month long artist residencies since 2005 and over 150 events.  The centre also produces independent artist or curator driven ‘Special Projects’ and has produced or co-produced 8 since 2002.  Special Projects include, High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese, Requiem for a Glacier, IMAGINARIUM, BOOM and Flame.  Much of this work has received critical acclaim in the art world both here in the Kootenays and beyond!
Oxygen Art Centre is considered to be an integral hub for arts and culture activities in the West Kootenays.  As an Artist Run Centre most of the centre’s Board members, staff and contractors are also practicing artists.  The centre has played an important role in fostering artists and the arts in the region and has been an important stepping-stone for many emerging Kootenay artists, into their careers as professional artists.  The goals of Oxygen Art Centre are to stimulate the creation, exhibition and discussion of contemporary art in all disciplines, to stimulate rural cultural development and professional practices in rural artists, to engage in community development through art-based projects, to achieve diversity in all programming and to pay nationally recognized fees to all artists.  Oxygen Art Centre is particularly interested in work with regional relevance, cross-discipline work and work that engages audiences in participatory processes.  By looking back and celebrating the accomplishments of the centre we celebrate those of our arts community, and bring into focus the importance of the arts in contributing to the rich social fabric of life here in the Kootenays.
The Memory Palaces exhibition will be up at Oxygen Art Centre from January 6 – 28, 2017.  Gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday from 1-5pm.  The exhibition opening is on Thursday, January 5th from 7-10 pm with special guests in attendance!  There will also be a founding members artist talk on Saturday, January 21 at 4pm.  Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

Oxygen Art Centre gratefully acknowledges support for this programming from the British Columbia Arts Council, Province of British Columbia, Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, Columbia Basin Trust and Business for the Arts sponsors Hall Printing and the Nelson Star.

320 Vernon St (alley entrance)
250 352 6322
Or find us on FaceBook!


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