What did we think of last year’s Fest?
The 2016 Festival was a success on several fronts.
As Artistic Director, I was really happy with the quality of the acts. Several even exceeded my expectations, even though I have seen them before. What struck me was the way our performers connected with the crowd, either through chat and banter, or in other ways. Who can forget The Young’uns, who had the audience in stitches with their northeast English wit? Or the sly and disarming humour of Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole, who would elicit hearty chuckles before launching into a beautiful, spiritual Hawaiian song.
Quebecois performer, Melisande, demonstrated impeccable stagecraft and copious charm with her poised presence and good-natured exchange of barbs with her husband, flute player Alex Grosbois-Garand. Senegalese-Canadian, Elage Diouf, really had the crowd going, even on the rainy final Sunday out on the beach stage. Great Festival moments! There was even a mystery man in a mutant zombie outfit dancing along. Who was that anyway? It takes all kinds…And that’s what we love – the diversity and wild creativity of our audience members! That’s what the Fest is all about: bringing people together.
Another special moment for me, and those who were lucky enough to witness it, was the performance at the Literary Café of Indian group, Rajasthan Josh. The power of their voices was something to behold, as was their love of music.
We were happy with the turnout for the evening hall shows- attendance was up from 2015 by around 14 percent! Again, the artists outdid themselves and all gave strong performances. I think a big part of this is the hall itself, and also the warm reception the musicians received from our crowd. The place and the people always inspire that magical exchange between performer and audience.
Another festival highlight was the strong reception for Children’s Day. We even had to add a third show for Charlotte Diamond, our featured hall performer! Another new and special thing about that day was the inclusion of storytelling, featuring local storyteller Shayna Northey. Congrats to Children’s Day Coordinator, Janet Hutchinson. It was a great success and we hope to see an even larger turnout at this year’s Fest.
The art market, once again under the coordination of Alyx Roche, had a good year. The weather was amenable to strolling along and checking out the items. We even added some buskers in the market to add some cheer and liveliness.
Workshops continued to be an integral part of our Festival. We had some great lecture demos. One of the most popular was the Aboriginal drum making workshop with Sts’ailes artist Darren Charlie. Also, the singing and dancing workshops led by some of our performers. Our own Liz Mueller and Cheryl Redfern led their popular sound healing workshop once again. Always a pleasure. And we thank all our performers, artists, artisans, coordinators and army of volunteers, for making the 2016 Festival season a big hit! We hope to see you all again this year, plus some new additions that will get you up and clapping!
Our sincere thanks,
The Harrison Festival of the Arts Team