Umbrella Alley during Luna Arts Festival on Sept. 30, 2017 in Revelstoke, B.C. (Marissa Tiel/ Revelstoke Review)

Looking back on 2017 with the Revelstoke Arts Council

We talked to Miriam Manley at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Center (RPAC) for her take on 2017 and to find out what’s in store for 2018.

RR: Can you tell us about some of the behind the scenes changes that the RPAC underwent this past year?

MM: Of course! Gary Pendergast retiring as the executive director is probably the biggest change. I’m the new executive director, and my old position of RPAC manager was dissolved and replaced with a program assistant who works across all programs. We hired Brianne Sadler for the position. Really, we did a lot of internal restructuring. We also moved our office to the Mountain Co-lab, giving us a more focused, central location.

RR: Any other new faces at the RPAC?

MM: Anna Fin has become our new lighting tech, and Josiah Olson our new sound tech.

RR: There were changes to StreetFest in 2017. What were they?

MM: We did a bit of a rebrand for 2017. Previously, bands played for two nights consecutively, and in 2017 we changed it to one night only. This opened up 20 nights for new bands. Organization is a juggling act and involves a lot of back and forth to line up availability between artist and location.

RR: What was your personal favourite event of 2017, and why?

MM: There were so many great events! If I had to pick a performance I would say the Canadian Guitar Quartet early in the year, the artistry was awesome and people loved it. My favourite Movies in the Mountains film was probably Maudie. Maudie is a film about Maud Lewis, a Nova Scotian artist who overcame great adversity. People stopped me on the streets afterwards to tell me they loved it. That is always a great feeling.

Another highlight was during StreetFest, when, on a damp drizzly Monday, a group called Entangados from Argentina played. By the time they were done an upbeat, Latin infused ska performance, the audience was dancing and a conga line was winding around the gazebo. It was a brilliant feeling to see everyone smiling.

RR: What was the biggest surprise of 2017?

MM: The Luna Festival. Every aspect of it was just so much fun, from conception to execution, and I think that was reflected during the event. The Luna Festival was a collaboration between the Revelstoke Visual Arts Center’s (RVAC) Victoria Strange, Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s representative Nico Leenders, Jana Thompson at the Chamber of Commerce and Rob Buchanan as the lead artist and designer. We only anticipated a couple hundred people coming out, and the number of attendees was in the thousands.

RR: If you could do one thing different in 2017, what would it have been?

MM: I would have kicked off the 2017 season with more upbeat events. The first two were wonderful but a bit heavy.

RR: Any 2017 stories that might surprise people?

MM: I think it’s common knowledge that we had a massive flood in the RPAC in February. What people might not know is we had to do patch jobs before we had finished repairs for a couple of bigger, sold out shows that required large investments that couldn’t be cancelled. For the Johnny Cash show, the dressing rooms and backstage had no drywall or flooring. In fact, the space around the stage was unfinished. I had to buy black construction paper to put around the stage, covering holes in the walls.

RR: Was there anything in 2017 you wanted to accomplish but didn’t have a chance?

MM: Well, Victoria Strange from RVAC and I are working together on a website. We had hoped to be done, but it is still in the works. It will be called Arts Revelstoke, and is a place people can go to get art related information in Revelstoke, from courses and classes to shows, regardless of whether it takes place or is sponsored by the RPC, RVAC, or Art First. You’ll be able to access any art info that you need.

RR: What are you most excited for in the upcoming 2018 season?

MM: I’m super excited for the upcoming flamenco show and workshop, which I don’t believe is something Revelstoke has ever seen before. I’m also thrilled to be saying the group Black Umfolosi, a South African version of the Stomp, will be performing. It’s definitely our most international season yet. I’m also looking forward to collaborating with community groups and going to industry conferences, I’m already thinking of 2018/2019 projects!

Thank you Miriam for taking the time to answer our questions! We look forward to the upcoming RPAC season.

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Miriam Manley, Revelstoke Arts Council executive director.

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