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Boxcar Cowboy earns $1,500 public art grant

Film producer, director and writer Conrad Beaubien is the 2021 recipient of the Prince Edward County Arts Council’s Public Art grant.

Beaubien is using the $1,500 grant to write and stage a dramatic reading of “The Boxcar Cowboy”, his new one-act play. The piece tells the story of a local Hillier boy who, one morning just before his 16th birthday, and at the time of the Great Depression, hid away in a rail freight car and travelled the country east to west for 30 years afterward, living the life of a drifter. He returned just once. The performance is directed by John Burns and features actors Lisa Messina, David Miller and Micheline Cox, with music by Nicholas Peat and lighting by Phil Dowling.

The Arts Council prize provides artist fees toward the realization of public art projects, and is supported through the Arts Council’s Artist Fund. Beyond supporting and encouraging local artists in their work, the program also aims to bring creativity to public spaces and contribute to the community’s sense of belonging.

“Conrad is the first playwright, and ‘The Boxcar Cowboy’ the first public performance piece, to be awarded a grant through our public art program,” said Janna Smith, Executive Director of the Prince Edward County Arts Council. “We found his unique, place-based approach compelling, and were encouraged by the project’s potential to help connect the audience to an aspect of our region’s history.”

“Storytelling is embedded within humanity,” said Beaubien. “Where opportunities exist to recount real life experiences of people, both local and broader audiences gain an understanding of the stuff that underpins a community’s past. On this occasion, audiences share the ground where the story is rooted.”

The 45-minute performance is to take place Saturday, Nov. 13th at 7 p.m. in the “open air theatre” tradition, outdoors at the Garden Wall Performance Space (24 Station Road in Hillier). Audience members are advised to dress warmly and bring their own chair. A hot beverage will be provided. Admission is free of charge, and advance reservations are not required. COVID-19 public health protocols will be in effect. The rain date is Sunday, Nov. 14th at 7 p.m. Inquiries about the event can be sent to

Past Public Art Grant recipients include the Department of Illumination for ICE BOX interactive art installations (2018) and its virtual Boxtopia activity (2020), Danielle Reddick for the creation of the wire sculpture soldier located in Glenwood Cemetery (2019), and Nella Casson for the “Looking Out, Looking Up” installation in the Books & Company storefront (2020).

The Arts Council’s Artist Fund was established in 2017 and has awarded more than $16,000 in grants to support local artists – including visual artists, dancers, actors, and cinematographers – in their community-based and career development pursuits.

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