Marty Howe, Mark Woodside and Kelly Field (from left) perform at this year’s Cultivate Festival at the Gabriola Commons. The Gabriola Arts Council recently received grants to bring a new tent to the venue and fund a new performance series. (Photo courtesy Bill Pope)

Gabriola Arts Council awarded $95K in grants for performing arts

New performance tent and outdoor concert series coming to Gabriola Island

More opportunities for performing artists are coming to Gabriola Island thanks to a pair of grants totalling nearly $95,000.

On Aug. 18 the Gabriola Arts Council announced in its newsletter it has received a B.C. Gaming grant worth $19,700 and a $74,900 grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Support for Workers in Live Arts and Music Sectors Fund.

The gaming grant is going toward a new 32-by-50-foot event tent at the Gabriola Commons, while the heritage grant will fund Gabriola Live, a new performance series featuring Gabriola artists and taking place at island venues from October to March 2022.

The newsletter said the tent is similar to the ones used during the Cultivate Festival. The plan is for the tent to be in place from the Victoria Day to Thanksgiving long weekends and be available for community use.

“The Commons built this big, beautiful new stage over their new reservoir and without a cover on it it’s difficult for groups, like musical groups or theatre groups, to use it effectively,” GAC executive director Carol Fergusson said. “And it also protects from the weather if there’s lots of wind or rain.”

Gabriola-based performing artists have from Sept. 1 to 15 to apply to be part of Gabriola Live. All performers, crew and audience members will need proof of COVID-19 vaccination or medical exemption, and if events are cancelled they will be live streamed instead.

Fergusson said Gabriola Live is intended to support Gabriola performers and related workers who lost income and were unable to practise their craft due to the pandemic. The newsletter said the series is meant to emphasize collaboration and showcase “something we haven’t seen before.”

“The performers that are on the island, a lot of us have seen their performance a number of times and while we love them and we think they’re really talented we’re trying to push them into doing something a little bit creative…” Fergusson said. “So people who wouldn’t normally work together or who have wanted to work together for a long time [can] come together for this event and produce something that’s totally unique.”

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