Hugo Rampen, the former artistic director of Roots and Blues was hired earlier this year by the Revelstoke Arts Council to create two new festivals for Revelstoke starting next year. The plan is to have one centred around the summer solstice in June and another in late September.
I spoke to Rampen, who spent 7.5 years as the artistic director of Salmon Arm Roots and Blues, to see what vision he has in mind for his two Revelstoke festivals. Work is still in the early stages, but what he is planning will be more than a music festival.
“They’re going to be multi-genre, they’re going to be music and other things,” he told me. “The intent is to create the type of festival that doesn’t really exist in this area at the moment.”
There are music festivals all over B.C. — Squamish and Pemberton both recently hosted ones with big-name headline acts. Salmon Arm Roots and Blues has been around for 22 years and the Kaslo Jazz Festival is 23 years old. Rampen’s aim is to produce a festival that will include more than music and take advantage of Revelstoke’s community assets — the resort, the railway, the river, the downtown architecture and more.
“When you design an event like this, you have to make it a little bit special. Without deep pockets you’re not going to do it musically,” he said. “You have to look at the assets the community gives you — architecture, environment and the quality of people in the town that are going to participate.”
He brought up the example of the Rudolstadt Tans und Folkfest, a world music festival in Germany that includes a children’s festival, lectures, workshops, street musicians and other exhibitions. Each year the festival focuses on a different country, instrument and dance.
“That’s my intent to do that — film, music, a bit of TED talks, looking at mountain culture or interesting past cultures that need to be explored or celebrated,” he said. “I’m looking at combining music and environment and knowledge and curiosity and making a bit of a spectacle.”
The plan is to have events across the city — mostly in the downtown core and at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Instead of building up a festival ground just for the occasion, the festivals will use already existing venues.
“I want to avoid that and I want to drive economy to the local businesses,” Rampen said. “I want to use venues that exist and I want to create partnerships at those venues where they can make money and the festival can cover its costs.”
He said he’s excited to develop something new and unique.
“This one, I can use my imagination, or other people’s imaginations, and craft something that is really unique because it’s not been done before,” he said. “That’s what I find so exciting about this. As well as the community assets in Revelstoke: the architecture, the venues, the environment, the river — all those things are interesting.”