I don’t go out much. But I recently got ‘volun-told’ to help my artists’ group. You can blame Felicity Sidnell Reid. I joke that she twisted my arm — most graciously.
An author and radio interviewer, Felicity is always involved in the arts.
She and her husband John moved from big-city Toronto to Northumberland County 20 years ago.
“I love the country,” she says. “And I love the atmosphere of a small village. I feel more relaxed here.”
Felicity lives in “a small house on a large lot with a stream that runs year-round.”
Her book, Alone: A Winter in the Woods was published in 2015 by Hidden Brook Press. Skilfully written and illustrated, it’s a survival story about a teenager left alone to look after his family’s cabin and livestock in 1797 while his father fetches the other family members from abroad.
Felicity also chairs the 50-member writers’ group within Spirit of the Hills arts association (SOTH). That’s how I met her.
Welcoming and kind, she took my sometimes-strange speech and always-strange walk in stride, and made me feel at home at my first meeting.
The monthly breakfast-meeting is supportive, fun and opinionated. As chair, Felicity sets the tone.
“I love chairing the writers’ group,” Felicity says. “Although one might want to shut oneself up in an attic sometimes — to escape from all the email and phone calls – it’s a great bunch of people. And a lot of fun.”
“Doesn’t it sometimes feel like you’re herding cats?” I ask. “How can you be so unflappable and gracious with us all the time?”
“I taught high school for years,” she says. “You have to be unflappable. I’m not sure how gracious I am, but I’ve noticed that if you are, people tend to be gracious back.”
The writers’ group is productive. It initiated a literary radio show – hosted by Felicity and author Gwynn Scheltema – and a Festival of the Arts, being held November 3 and 4. All of SOTH is involved.
SOTH’s membership includes writers, artisans, musicians, performers and a variety of painters and other visual artists. They come from as far away as Toronto to the west and Kingston to the east.
But most, like Felicity, live in Northumberland County, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
“Driving through the countryside is always exciting because the hills themselves are so lovely,” Felicity notes. “There’s invariably another incredible view, maybe of a small lake or of Lake Ontario, or the next pretty town, or more hills covered with forest or farms, fields and animals.”
The Festival will be held in lakeside Cobourg, one of Canada’s most beautiful towns.
“We wanted to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday but, more importantly, the creativity and diversity of the arts in this region.”
Felicity and SOTH president Susan Statham are co-chairing the Festival. It includes arts competitions, a musical play, a concert and book launch, a book fair and art show, a panel discussion and exciting workshops.
“What do you hope it’ll do for Northumberland?” I ask her.
“Northumberland, like most places in Canada, is always changing,” Felicity replies. “It becomes more diverse and interesting because of change. We all profit from this. And the influx of artists in the last 30 years has led to increased vibrancy and innovation in the artistic community.
“I hope our programme will engage people from our many communities. We want to appeal to young and old, those who have lived all their lives in this area as well as newcomers.”
Although some Northumberland arts organizations recently folded, SOTH remains strong.
“An Ontario Arts Council study (June 2017) encouraged us. It reported that 90% of those surveyed agree that an active local arts scene helps make a community a better place to live and 97% agree that engaging children in the arts is important to their overall development.”
As for my involvement? A year ago, Felicity invited me to join the Festival committee. Committee members feel privileged to help, as does she.
“I love working with others and building a team, so conceiving and planning the festival have been exciting and very fulfilling.”
Special thanks to Patricia Calder for photos 2, 10, 11 and 12.
28 thoughts on “Felicity Sidnell Reid — Arts Multi-tasker”
Everything about this post makes me smile! What a fabulous community you live in Cynthia – filled with wonderful folk!! I hope your festival is a roaring success and you enjoy every moment of your ‘voluntolding’ (that ought to be a word!!) ❤
Sounds like a wonderful community. What fun to be part of the planning etc. Hope it is fun for all who come and participate.
Would love to be there. Such a beautiful setting for a Festival of the Arts.
Thanks for introducing me to Mrs. Reid, she sounds interesting and so does her book. Cynthia, I’ve been meaning to tell you that your book has touched me deeply. Your such a strong and couragous woman and I think a lot of desperate people can and will draw hope out of your writing. I’m an atheist and so couldn’t quite follow your religious path but your positive spirit and soul and your ways with family and other people have reached out to me. Best wishes and keep up the good work, Annette
Hi Annette: Thanks for your generous response to Felicity and to my book, An Honest House. Half my friends are atheists, and they read that book too! Although it appears that Myrtle the Purple Turtle may beat out both my books for adults, as it debuted on Amazon with strong sales.
I think all of us who follow your blog would love to attend the festival, Cynthia. Thanks for introducing us to Felicity.
I wish you could, Jill. Felicity and I will be bringing your good wishes with us.
What a great group to be involved with. Northumberland is beautiful and those horses…..be still my heart!
Lovely woman, the kind that makes her community a better place. And the countryside. Oh, my!
So true, Laurie. The community is better for having Felicity and others like her. The countryside pix are by Pat Calder, a remarkable author-photographer who takes gorgeous photos of the area.
So very beautiful.
Thank you, Cynthia. I agree with all your sentiments!
Lovely intro to Felicity, the Northumberland group and local arts. Sounds like a lot of fun and creativity.
Sounds like a great project to be involved with. And I agree that an active local arts scene is great for a community, for young and old alike.
You will be a great addition to the committee! Lovely country indeed!
You got the best of all worlds–nature’s beauty and fellow writers. Or should I say, cats? 🙂
“Cats”! Haha — you made me grin.
Thanks for your wonderful post Cynthia and to all who wrote such supportive comments in reply to it. I wish all you enthusiastic people could be with us on November 3rd and and 4th!
Reblogged this on Felicity Sidnell Reid: author, editor and broadcaster and commented:
Only three weeks to go before this event which has absorbed so many of us for over a year!
What a great place to live with a thriving arts community to boot! Felicity seems to be a influence for good among you all. Congratulations on the success of ‘Myrtle’!
Cynthia, what a lovely tour and thoughts about art. A community that values its artists adds quality of life to young and old alike. Our valley is blessed with a love of fine arts and music too.
Blessings ~ Wendy
It does make a difference to a community, Wendy, doesn’t it?
Cynthia, you are blessed to have such a wonderful arts community, and colleague like Felicity to help keep it vibrant. Thank you for introducing readers to her book “Alone”. Such beautiful countryside up there!
Thanks, Lavinia. Felicity is terrific and we are all lucky to have her. Northumberland is also one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
Felicity is indeed a multi-tasker, and a very talented one at that! I believe such creativity and involvement is the key to her – and our – staying young. That and unflappability, of course. 🙂
How perfectly delightful!