It’s hard to stay motivated during winter in Montreal, especially when mountains of snow make leaving your house feel like climbing a mountain. Fun-A-Day Montreal aims to present a solution to these winter blues. Participants in the month-long event choose an engaging project to work on every day for the month, culminating in a February showcase of the work.
Fun-A-Day was founded in 2004 by the Artclash Collective in Philadelphia, a group that seeks to inspire creativity and promote art as an accessible form of expression. According to Artclash’s website, the project is designed “to be fun, inclusive, and participatory,” and the annual showcases are free and accessible to all ages. Since 2004, the event has gained popularity and spread across North America, evolving into an annual celebration of art.
The organizers of the Montreal event encourage participants to document their daily efforts for presentation at the February event. They also offer some project ideas on their website for those who are interested, such as reading a zine, writing a letter, or learning something new about your neighbourhood.
“Both projects were about working through various anxieties and learning to gain self-confidence. So they were something like DIY mental health care for me.”
Despite its title, Fun-A-Day is about more than just having a good time. Engaging in a creative experience for just a few minutes each day can also serve as a way to counter stress or depression, as Amber Dearest, one of the organizers, explained to The Daily. “For a lot of people, winter sucks. Especially so in Montreal, where we’ve had record-breaking snowfalls over the last few years, and this current cold snap. Then there are the early sunsets and the rising cost of public transportation, to say nothing of seasonal depression,” Dearest said. “Sometimes you just need something to look forward to, or something to pass the time. This is one way of turning the month into something fun and exciting, to try to forget about the grey days and frigid weather.”
Fun-A-Day also gives participants the chance to share their work and their fun with each other along the way. The event is open to anyone who is interested. According to Dearest, “the majority of participants are queer artists, writers and musicians, punks, and some really lovely weirdos.” These participants are encouraged to share their projects and their progress on the Fun-A-Day Facebook page. Some have commented that they are having a good time; others post clips of music they have danced to for the day, or zine ideas to be put into print. In bringing people together through fun self-care, the event ultimately cultivates an inclusive community where creativity can flourish in Montreal.
Dearest’s personal experience with Fun-A-Day speaks to the variety of ways in which it can be helpful to participants. “Last year, I drew a picture everyday, and the year before that, I experimented in my kitchen and wrote about my relationship to food as a person who was raised in a single-parent working-class home,” she told The Daily. “Both projects were about working through various anxieties and learning to gain self-confidence. So they were something like DIY mental health care for me.”
Self-care, just like creating art, is a process. While winter can be lonely, Fun-A-Day proves that you don’t have to go through it alone. As Dearest told The Daily, “I feel like I’m constantly learning how to work through depression and I have a lot to share – I’m getting really good at this winter survival thing!”