Partnering for safe and inclusive festival space

On June 8, the co-founder and creative director of Arboretum Arts Festival stepped down from his position. Since that time, we’ve sought advice and support from community organizations and individual experts to help us assess, investigate, take appropriate measures and move forward with a safe and inclusive festival space for 2018, and beyond.

That outreach has led us to partnering with the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW), the Sexual Assault Network (SAN) and Project SoundCheckTM to define our accountability processes, not just for the festival, but for our organization.

As a first step, we want to invite you to speak of your experience and give us feedback using a newly launched Project SoundCheckTM anonymous reporting tool. This is a way for survivors to safely voice their experiences or for anyone to provide advice, constructive criticism or other feedback to our organization. SAN will be providing a report to us with the feedback from the tool, and we will be establishing next steps with them which we will communicate with you. We believe that this, combined with our research on best practices, will continue to help us learn from the past and understand how to best move forward. The form is available HERE

With BON-FIRE 2018 quickly approaching, we are also working with Project SoundCheckTM to increase our safety and inclusivity measures. Having engaged with them through training and resources since 2015, we are also working with Project SoundCheckTM this year to undertake a festival specific safety audit and ensure that we have a safe space tent for the duration of the festival. We will also be providing sexual assault prevention training to our staff, volunteers and security in advance of this year’s festival.

One thing that has made an impression on us over the past month is that this process is not easy, and it’s not something that will be done neatly and quickly. It will take time and work. It is something we will be doing in tandem with our festival planning this year and beyond. Although we realize this isn’t going to please everyone, we are sincere in our efforts and are dedicated to being transparent about the changes that will result from public feedback and work with our community partners.

Finally, we’d like to stress that we are a small, volunteer-driven, organization. Although we are working with knowledgeable individuals and organizations, we are very open to hearing from you. If you think we need to improve, we want to know how. Please get in touch with us directly at or through the Project SoundCheckTM anonymous reporting tool HERE.  

Thank you for your patience, support, and willingness to work with us to ensure a positive and safe festival experience.

You can't have a BON-FIRE downtown

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On August 17 - 18, Arboretum Festival re-casts the 7th edition of its flagship summer event as BON-FIRE. Located 25 minutes from downtown Ottawa at Rideau Pines Farm, BON-FIRE is an end-of-summer weekend party featuring groundbreaking independent music and dance parties, fuelled by feasts of regional food and drink.

This first announce reveals concerts by Montreal’s legendary electro-punks WOLF PARADE, exploding Kaytranada collaborator SHAY LIA, Calgary’s psych-hero CHAD VANGAALEN, Polaris-shortlisted indie-dance goddess JESSY LANZA, art-folkist JENNIFER CASTLE, and many more. 

A weekend corn roast, s’mores, and more: Attendees will feast all weekend long at the festival’s expanded food court. Supplied by Rideau Pines Farm produce, Ottawa’s most trusted cooks and restaurants will showcase a mouth-watering array of food, and attendees will also be able to pick their own fresh produce from the farm fields.


Presented by Arboretum Festival
August 17-18, 2018
Rideau Pines Farm, Ottawa/North Gower, Ontario
#bonfire613 @arboretumfest #arb2018


$50 early bird festival passes include return shuttle bus transportation from the downtown core and are on sale online at

Day passes, schedule, and food program will be released in June

Succulence Now - a Q&A with Bernice


Routine tends to blind us to the miraculous: choosing the same path to work, scheduling social time around self-care rituals, settling for the same algorithmically targeted personal playlists. With the world seemingly surfing its way down the evolutionary toilet, it’s not surprising that so many of us want to pacify our senses by sailing familiar waters. Popular music, and the industries that serve/prey on it, aren’t immune to those forces either. We hear it in the ubiquity of anthemic hey-ho choruses, fashion-heavy artist press photos, and the eerie, homogenous lilting vocal style that seems requisite for the top 40 of all genres now.

That’s where Bernice come in. A few years in the works now, the project blossomed in early 2017 with the release of the Puff EP, a 6-song collection of skewed and sinewy electro-pop. Lead by vocalist/songwriter Robin Dann, Bernice offer a distinct and welcome contrast to the routine: serpentine melodies that arch towards the unknown, rhythmic breaths that enrich the lungs, and lyrical imagery that never leans on vapid tropes, but rather urges us bask in the succulence of the unexpected.

ROLF KLAUSENER: When I say "Ottawa", what mental image immediately conjures in your noggin?
ROBIN DANN: Skating in my auntie Sharon’s back yard as a kid!

RK: Why "Bernice"?
Bernice was my grandmother’s name.

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RK: Dream act to open up for, alive or dead.
RD: Micachu, or maybe like early 70s Miles Davis (Dan), or the Cocteau Twins (Phil) or Jim O’Rourke (Thom)

RK: What's your current favourite food, and where can we eat one?
RD: Festival! I tried it in Jamaica but I’m sure you can get it in Toronto! Delicious fried dumpling made of heavenly stuff.

RK: If you could have an all night, campfire chat with any living musician or songwriter, who would it be, and why?
RD: Maya Rudolph being Beyoncé, because, well, just imagine that chat! (also maybe she’d slip out of character and then I’d be hanging with Maya Rudolph)

RK: Vocally, your melodic choices are damn playful, mellifluous, but also furtively unusual. What forces do you reckon influenced the directions you explore via melody?
RD: Thank you! I try to not develop habits... I guess that plays into it. And to write melodies that I’ll enjoy singing for a while.  

RK: What inspired the song "Don't Want to be European"? Lyrically, it vacillates between the impressionistic and a loose narrative, dark and light, being hunted by metaphorical dogs, and being kids making out under the moon. What's going on here?
RD: That one is about a bear! we did a residency at the Banff centre and on day 1 a bear cub was shot down from a tree on campus - the idea was to stun him and move him away from the centre, but sadly he died because he fell from too great a height. I wrote the song the next day. It’s from the bear’s perspective, looking down from his branch, not wanting to leave his peaceful spot.

RK: Would you rather wind down with a single movie, any movie, at the cinema, or binge-watch a series? If so, what would you recommend?
RD: I’d rather be at home watching something on our projector. I recommend Discovering Bigfoot, which Thom recommended to me - it’s on Netflix - - lots of laughs, spooks, camping, everything you want. The main guy is truly one of the greats.

RK: 3 Toronto artists currently napalming your cerebellum. 
RD: Luge (band), Aisha Sasha John (performer),  Andrew Zukerman/Julia Male as their duo(music/dance), Bridget Moser (performer). That’s 4!  They are all beyond definition and beyond belief.


RK: Your one wish for tomorrow's show?
RD: Peaceful and happy vibes! no tears. Good omens from the stars. For someone to bring a dog! and birthday cake for Rolf!

RK: Aw frig. Thanks, Robin!
RD: no, thank YOU!

— BERNICE play tonight at Black Squirrel Books along with NYC's Erica Eso, OTT/NYC's Adam Saikaley, and features interactive installations from OTT's Conor Byron. $7-10 suggested donation at the door. All Ages / 19+ .

by Rolf Klausener