Art show aims to inspire confidence, passion for those with Down syndrome

Program displays the diverse and inclusive culture of the community.

3 min read
Painting with Post-It saying 'Sold'
caption Proceeds raised by the festival total _____
Jacqueline Newsome

Haligonian artists with Down syndrome displayed their work at the Super Nova Art Festival to raise money for the Down Syndrome Society on Saturday.

Hundreds filed in and out of St. Mary’s Boat Club to explore the art exhibition put on by Team Possibles, a program for local artists run through Halifax NS Down Syndrome Society (HNSDSS).

Team Possibles’ mission is to display the culture of the Down syndrome community, along with increasing diversity, inclusion and understanding. 

Event host makes announcement to art exhibition crowd.
caption Will Brewer thanks guests for attending and announces the evening’s drag event to come.

The host was Will Brewer a local artist, drag queen, town crier and event’s coordinator. He started his event planning business, Planet*21, in February 2023. Brewer has been in the art world more than 17 years, and became Canada’s first-ever town crier with Down syndrome. He is also the advocacy president/chair for HNSDSS.

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Brewer’s business focuses on hiring entertainment for events, such as the DJ at Saturday’s event.

“I aim to advance people’s careers and give them opportunities to work towards starting their own businesses eventually,” he said.

Planet*21 places Down syndrome at the heart of its business and aims to give those with Down syndrome both volunteer experience for their resumes and an avenue to practice what they are passionate about.

Art is displayed in front of a stage

“I would say the nature of things is something that inspires my art,” said Brewer, while showing his pieces on sale. “I moved here in 2008 and then I was a part of a group called Friday Night Socials — another group that the Down Syndrome Society has. One of the parents there suggested that I join Team Possibles in 2009 and I’ve been doing art with them ever since.”

Another artist in attendance was Julie Arseneau. “This is my first time selling my art,”  she said. 

“I get inspiration from watching movies along with many other things,” she said while showcasing her blue wave photo inspired by the film Titanic. “You can find inspiration anywhere!” 

Arseneau has lived in Nova Scotia most of her life. Her father’s side of the family is French, and this shows in her work. 

“The Rocket of Love is my favourite piece I have here today. In French, it’s La fusée de l’amour,” she said. 

Team Possibles has been led by Renee Forrestall since 2007. Forrestall is an artist herself and uses her art to develop community awareness for down syndrome. 

The event closed with a drag show and performance by DJ Ed, who was hired by Will Brewer’s company. In total, the artists raised more than $5,000 for HNSDSS. 

Brewer concluded by encouraging young artists with Down syndrome. “Build your confidence in your career and your passion for the arts. Education is important as well.”

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