The second of a two-part series exploring the current and future direction of the arts in Revelstoke.
Arts Council focuses on consolidation
Revelstoke Arts Council chairperson Carol Palladino says the umbrella arts organization is in a consolidation phase as they work to establish the new Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre.
Following a “reasonably successful” first season, the council is still working on grants and funding streams to make the theatre manager’s position permanent.
“Our focus is to build that and create a separate brand or identity for [the RPAC.]” Palladino said. “It needs to be seen as something that is separate from us.”
She is content with the Arts Council’s position.
“Where we are right now is not in a bad place,” Palladino said. She explained part of the council’s mandate is to make Revelstoke an arts destination, but it’s important to approach that goal with the right nuance.
“Our mission is to really have Revelstoke be perceived as a cultural destination, but more from the point of view that it’s what we do here and that’s why people want to come – as opposed to doing things for [tourists],” she said.
In the past, “cultural tourism” was the catch-phrase, but it’s fallen out of favour. It meant creating events destinations thought tourists would appreciate. Increasingly sophisticated visitors can sense a tourist trap.
Now it’s about “placed-based” tourism; creating local attractions that are an authentic reflection of cultural life here.
“What people who come to visit look for is something authentic,” Palladino explained. The other benefit is you can cater to local tastes at the same time. Success means creating something the community embraces.
Palladino said communication – or “getting the word out” – remains a big hurdle for all kinds of events. In the context of increasingly fragmented information consumption, Palladino said people often tell her they had no idea certain events were happening.
Palladino emphasizes consolidating their organization is the focus now.
“I think what’s important is not just the cultural product you put out there, but in the background – things are done properly. The bills get paid,” she said.“I think we’ve got a good reputation on both sides of it. I think we do good programming and I think we take care of business too.”
How to gain community support for arts
Parks, Recreation and Culture director Laurie Donato said getting democratic support for the arts in the community is a challenge. Sure, there’s a committed and supportive arts community here. But Revelstoke is also sporty, outdoorsy and engaged in more than just the arts.
“In the last community survey, arts was not highly supported by the community,” Donato said.
In the coming weeks, Donato will table the city’s new culture strategy, a guiding document that will spell out city priorities in the arts. It’s a roadmap for future city and community involvement in the arts scene. “There’s a lot of partnerships involved; it’s not strictly the city involved in this. It really has to be a partnership with the arts community, businesses and other agencies,” she said.
There’s a strong arts scene in Revelstoke and the city is involved. She gave public art projects, heritage efforts and youth arts programming as a few of many examples. “We are already doing a lot. We have a really active cultural group that does a lot for the resources they have,” she said.
The new strategy will explore ways to get more residents engaged in the arts, and will explore opportunities for tourism components in arts and culture somewhat.
One new direction will be to seek to better coordinate cultural activities – including outdoor culture – with Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
Donato said awareness and affordibility were identified as issues holding back the cultural scene here.
The city’s culture strategy is expected in the coming weeks and will then proceed to council for comment and adoption.
Revelstoke Tourism hires events coordinator
Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce executive director Judy Goodman said the newly-minted events co-ordinator Amy Flexman will do much to co-ordinate and create new cultural events for the city.
Flexman will work on all kinds of events, including arts and culture.
Goodman explained the position will help organizers of new and existing events better access many resources, such as funding opportunities, partnerships with the private sector, databases, web marketing and social media marketing.
Goodman encouraged those with existing and new events to get in touch with their plans.
From a business perspective, Goodman said the challenge is always creating events that will attract people to town during non-peak weekends. We’re full in the summer and winter, but we need to generate activity during the shoulder seasons. She said the community would welcome new arts events that could achieve this.
This effort to create events during quiet times was stated in a different way by many interviewed. There are only so many patrons to go around. Coordinating is key; two big shows on the same Saturday night means splitting a finite audience in two and jeopardizing the viability of both.