The Ortona feels like home! The building is a little ramshackle, a little maze-like, but there are interesting objects and stories to discover in every corner. I've procured many fun and completely unnecessary items from their free store, including history books, original artworks, camera cases and French esoteric magazines. Events at FAVA tend to be potluck-style, not just in the food, but also the art-making... I've played collaborative sets as part of Weird Canada's Drone Day here, and screened my (sadly unsuccessful) Super8 as part of the FAVA Super8 Challenge along with many other aspiring Super8 filmmakers. I love to see so many kids (and dogs) out at art events. The people are unpretentious, they're interested in what you're up to, and are usually up to some interesting and bizarre projects themselves.
The Ortona Armoury Art Building in Rossdale is filled with memories; its more than 100 year history intermixed with its present life as an arts building. Artists of every discipline have filled the building for close to 30 years with art and creativity, and the greater arts community and public have come here to experience that arts energy. Virtually every space in the building has been the location of the creation of art, visual art exhibits, music performances, filming locations and film projections, dance, poetry readings, history and arts open houses, arts workshops, and celebrations.
The present studios and the building’s public arts areas inhabit the same spaces that the Royal Canadian Navy occupied in WWII as the HMCS Nonsuch training facility; the rooms and floor plan essentially unchanged since 1939. The present Ortona Room (multi-purpose arts room) on the main floor was the Navy’s Chief and Petty Officer’s Mess; the artist-run Ortona Gallery on the second floor served as the Navy’ Clothing Stores; the spaces where both and the Film and Visual Arts Society the Trincan Steel Orchestra now are, had been used by the Navy for classrooms, communications, and the Navy’s “Warrior” music band. Artists’ studios were the Navy’s WRENS’ Mess (Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service), the offices of the HMCS Nonsuch Officers, storage for sails, ropes & rigging, and much more.
As expressed by arts writer Agnieszka Matejko in her review of a group arts exhibit in the Ortona Gallery, “…the strongest impression I am left with is the building’s palpable sense of rich community life among artists of all backgrounds.” Vue Weekly 21 January 2003, “Ortonary People”.