Powell River Performing Arts Festival revisits the format

Registrations have closed and plans are moving forward for an in-person 78th Powell River Performing Arts Festival. Since 2003, the oldest festival in the qathet region has been organized by members of the Rotary Club of Powell River.

The numbers are up from last year when the festival was held under heavy COVID-19 restrictions and all entries were filmed for submission to the Performing Arts BC provincial festival.

“We’re thrilled to have entries in all of our categories,” coordinator Val Thompson said during a report at an organizing committee meeting Jan. 31. “The deadline was extended because the school holidays were longer than expected and our music teachers needed more time to make decisions on the registration of their students.

Vocal and choral sessions will take place on Wednesday, February 23, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.; speaking arts at 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25; piano on Saturday February 26 at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.; strings on Sunday, February 27 at 1 p.m.; all at James Hall. The dance will take place at the Evergreen Theater on Wednesday, March 2 at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Thursday, March 3 at 9 a.m.

A disappointment will be the absence of the Focus on Youth concerts which were so popular in 2019. The impact of COVID-19 on schools means the concerts will miss 2022 and hopefully be back in 2021.

Cathy Bartfai, referee coordinator, said she had people in place for all disciplines.

“It’s my first time doing this and I’ve learned a lot so far,” she added. “I am impressed with the flexibility and patience they have shown as we work out how the festival will unfold.”

She mentioned that a referee is glad there are choirs participating as she has missed hearing them for the past two years.

Karyn O’Keefe, who is in charge of finding volunteers for each of the sessions, said she has a list of community members willing to help.

“We have fewer sessions than usual, so they’ll all be easily covered,” O’Keefe said. “More volunteers will be needed for the Grand Concert because at this stage we need to check vaccination cards and IDs.”

The Grand Concert will take place on Saturday, March 5 at the Evergreen Theater starting at 7 p.m. Tickets will be available in advance at the Powell River Academy of Music or at the door.

“Under current COVID-19 restrictions, we’re limited to a 50-cent capacity,” Thompson said, “but hopefully that will change by then. I’m just thrilled that we can have a Grand Concert.

The organizers were lucky enough to organize a Grand Concert in March 2019, just before the shutdown of events and activities due to the spread of COVID-19. Many other communities in the province with later dates had to cancel their festivals, as did the provincial festival.

When people attend the Grand Concert, they can check out the trophy showcase with trophies that feature the names of past presenters and winners, a historical legacy of the festival.

“The matter has been moved to make way for the second athlete induction into the Powell River Sports Hall of Fame,” festival chair Joyce Carlson said. “We worked with resort staff to find a more suitable location and they were very accommodating with the planning and move.”