This past weekend, I had the privilege and pleasure to emcee this year’s Quesnel Festival of the Performing Arts (QFPA) Celebration of Stars Gala Performance. This event highlights and celebrates selected performances from each of the performing arts disciplines that make up the festival: speech, vocal and choral, piano, and dance.
This year marked the 36th anniversary of the Festival of Performing Arts in Quesnel, a large event that uses multiple venues and requires a significant number of volunteers to organize and host. QFPA has its own Board of Directors and is associated with and supported by the Quesnel and District Community Arts Council. Rotary also supports the festival participants by awarding scholarships to selected artists (six performers received bursaries this year). Various community sponsors contribute to the Festival as well and help underwrite the costs.
The performers at the Gala were selected by the Festival’s adjudicators in each discipline. Over the course of the afternoon event’s 46 performances the incredible depth of talent we have in our community in each of the performing arts disciplines was clearly demonstrated and celebrated. In total, the event adjudicators selected 21 performers to compete at this year’s Provincial Championships in Chilliwack May 26 to 30; 17 performers were selected to attend this year’s Provincials as “Non-Competitive Merited Participants” enabling them to gain experience for future competitions.
The quality of the performances at the Gala was second to none. Regardless of the age of the competitor or their discipline it was clear that each and every one of them had put in the time and exercised the discipline necessary to excel and to warrant the recognition they were given by the adjudicators. Some brought the audience to tears, others to laughter, all enthralled and all received much deserved and energetic applause.
But, as I noted at the event, the talent demonstrated on the stage was made possible by a wide range of dedicated and talented teachers, vocal coaches and directors, piano teachers, and dance instructors. All of the vocalists were also accompanied by a number of very talented pianists. It’s this instructional talent (many of whom are also performers as well) that makes it possible for youth and adults in our community to enjoy learning all manner of performing arts disciplines. Whether just for personal growth or for performance purposes, Quesnel offers an incredible array of accessible and affordable opportunities for people to grow their talent or learn a new skill.
As a Council and in partnership with the Northern Directors of the Cariboo Regional District, we are fully aware that we need to support our arts community writ large with improvements to our hosting venues. Even if we do achieve a new community theatre in the proposed Lhtako Dene Cultural Centre (which would be available for bookings for community events like the Festival of the Performing Arts), we know we need to work with all of our private and public partners to improve all the other venues we have in the City and in the fringe areas and, if at all possible, create a new larger venue that would allow us to host larger performing arts events and specialty concerts.
The depth of artistic talent we have in our community deserves our attention and the right kind of investments in appropriate venues that will showcase this talent. Like the artists, Council and our CRD partners will have to be creative and disciplined in order for us to achieve this desired outcome.
I want to offer a huge thank you to the QFPA Board and the many volunteers who made this year’s event possible. If you are at all interested in assisting with the QFPA and ensuring the Festival continues in our community, you are invited to attend their Annual General Meeting on Tuesday June 11 at the Quesnel and District Arts and Recreation Centre.