The Soley Cove Legacy Project

In the summer of 2020, I started having conversations with my friends Tom Young and Clare Waque about an outdoor, travelling performance that would move through the fields and intertidal spaces of Soley Cove, on the Bay of Fundy, near E’knomi (Economy), in the District of Sipekne’katik, Nova Scotia, in Mi’kma’ki Territory.

We were dreaming big – of transforming an old barn into an underwater heaven, hosting a massive dance party and fire spectacle, gathering a wide community of artists connected to Red Clay Farm and White Rabbit Arts together to create performance and installations inspired by the place, and the community that Tom had woven together over many years.

Tom got sick that fall, and was diagnosed with cancer. We kept on planning the project, spurred on by Tom’s assurances that it was going to be spectacular, whether he was there or not. He said, “This is going to be the biggest show ever! Thousands of people! We’re going to Broadway!”

Tom moved into his next life, travelling into another realm, on February 1st, 2021. A few weeks later, we found out our Canada Council application for the project was successful.

And so, we moved forward with The Legacy Project, planning through the second spring of the covid-19 pandemic. We invited members of the Red Clay/White Rabbit community to come together to honour the work and activities of Red Clay and Tom Young. A core team of instigators/co-leaders was formed: Clare and I, Brian Riley and Thea Fitz-James. Together, we led and produced the project, almost entirely at a distance and over zoom, until summer 2021. Feems (Fahima Gibrel) joined the core team in July.

Two week-long residencies were held at the Soley Cove site and at Red Clay Farm – the first in July, and the second in August. Artists created installations, writing, music, performances, pathways and prompts throughout the landscape. These works reflected on themes of grief, community, legacy, and Tom’s concept of ‘spiritual DNA’ – connections, dreams and knowledge shared between people that are ephemeral and intangible, yet encoded in our being.

The final experience was an outdoor, self-guided walking tour through the fields, forests, cliffs and shoreline of Soley Cove. Audiences moved through the space in small groups on August 21 and 22, experiencing installations, radio transmissions, performances and invitations to join in shared experience, action and reflection.

Legacy Project Program

Soley Cove Legacy Project program side 1
Legacy Project program (side 1) designed by Colleen MacIsaac

Soley Cove Legacy Project program side 2
Legacy Project program (side 2) designed by Colleen MacIsaac

Photos by Chris Franek:

More photos, taken by me and others in the August residency

The Legacy Project gratefully acknowledges funding from the Canada Council for the Arts