Kamloops This Week - Insulting parent political folly

Friday, September 18, 2009

Kamloops This Week - Insulting parent political folly

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Welcome to the Tournament (and Cultural) Capital of Canada

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Well, I’m back.

Been missing from this page for a few weeks, thanks to various vacations (mine and co-workers’), but I’ve been storing up a bunch of random observations about life in Kamloops.

First, yes, I know we’re the Tournament Capital of Canada.

Heck, one of our previous managing editors — the ever-joking Gord Kurenoff — wasn’t kidding at all when he told me to pen a column against the project to run with his opus praising all things sport.

Great, take the least-popular position possible. Thank you, Gord.

But there’s this great other side of the city, one I’ve known about but have been able to see in all of its intricacies in recent weeks, one that makes me think we should call ourselves the Creative Capital of Canada.

Consider this: A group of about 18 young men and women, none of them much older than mid-teens, gathers in the Pavilion Theatre on a Monday morning.

Some know each other from school or other activities but, for the most part, they’re not much more than strangers.

Two weeks later, they’re performing The Wizard of Oz in that same theatre, nary missing a cue or movement — almost like they’d been in rehearsals for months, not having about nine days to learn the script and the blocking en route to performing like a seasoned troupe.

Maybe I’m a bit biased here, since my youngest was one of the performers, but having grown up immersed in theatre and performing, I know how incredible this feat was for them and their instructors, the amazing Terri Runnels, Stephen Sawka, Jennifer Jones and Alison Clow, who was there to assist, but ended up taking on the guiding role of the narrator in the performances.

They’ll be doing it again — albeit somewhat adapted to find the reduced timeframe — on Saturday at the Children’s Art Festival at 3 p.m. in Riverside Park. Head on down and check it out. You’ll be amazed, too.

Having taken over the entertainment coverage here at KTW, I’ve been spending a lot of time with the people who fuel the creative core of the city.

It’s one thing to sit in the audience and soak up their genius; truly another to talk to them on a day-to-day basis.

There are some amazing people who work behind the scenes to ensure we have our art, our theatre, our music, to ensure our burgeoning creative souls have a place to make that first step out into public appreciation.

Some of them toil under some truly arduous circumstances. I think of all the staff at Western Canada Theatre has endured — and continues to grapple with — and marvel at how its dedication doesn’t wane in the face of true adversity.

Over at the Kamloops Art Gallery, they went through their own stress when executive director Jann Bailey went for a doctor’s appointment — and was not back to work for months, faced with the fight of — and for — her life as she battled leukemia.

The people who keep the gallery buzzing were painfully aware of it every day, but it didn’t affect the quality of work they provided for all of us.

And there are the ones you don’t hear about very often.

Last weekend, I went to the farewell concert by my dear friend, Danie Pouliotte.

I met Danie at the encouragement of Martin Comtois, the man who tried to keep the Ashcroft Opera House alive and well. Danie had been working for him on an internship and he knew she had talent people needed to hear about.

KTW photographer Dave Eagles and I met this shy young woman down at Riverside Park, talked to her, shot some photos, wrote a feature — and I figured that was it.

Then Danie popped up a few months later with the idea of holding a fundraiser for the Kamloops Food Bank. I helped her, Joey Jack and Kira Haug put it together and watched a still-timid Danie open the show for us.

You should see her now.

The musical community in Kamloops has been like an incubator for this woman, helping her develop her talent to the point that I have no doubt she’ll be successful following her dreams when she moves to Vancouver later this month.

There are so many more people out there who continue to do their part to keep the arts and entertainment community in this city alive.

It’s not an easy job, particularly in these times of government cutbacks, fewer donations and increased costs.

But it’s just as vital to Kamloops as all those sports events — so take the time to get out and support them.