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Arts alive and well for 10th year

Annual event has seen sun storms and sprinklers
Andy Rice

A tried-and-true balance of structure and simplicity is what has allowed one of Powell River’s premiere summer arts events to weather the past decade. Arts Alive in the Park will take place on Saturday, August 20 and Sunday, August 21 at Willingdon Beach.

“We haven’t really changed the format at all,” said Ann Nelson, who co-organizes the annual event with Roberta Pearson. “It’s the same thing every year because that’s what works.” By same, Nelson means location, layout and general concept. The artists, of course, tend to vary slightly from year to year, not unlike the selection of work they bring to show and sell.

Willingdon Beach will once again come alive with the visual, the audible and the edible for the two-day celebration of Powell River’s artists. “We’re going to have lots of music as always and lots of artists doing their thing,” said Nelson. “I think we’re probably going to have more artists producing work right there [at the beach]…than we have had in previous years.”

One of the most attractive features of the festival is the ability to see artists working on unfinished projects “en plein air” alongside completed versions they have brought to display. Cedar bark weaving, stone carving, fibre crafts, painting and pottery are several of the methods and mediums being demonstrated at the event by local craftspeople.

“The idea for it is to be focused on homegrown music and art,” said Nelson. “We don’t have any limitations on the kinds of art and crafts that are for sale as long as it’s made by someone’s hands and not by a factory. Arts Alive in the Park is a celebration of this connection between artisan and the finished goods that you get to appreciate in your own home.”

Throughout the weekend, Powell River Forestry Museum will be open, food booths will be set up and there will be a host of fun things for children to do. Kelly Creek Community School will have a tent full of activities, along with an exhibit promoting its lineup of fall art classes. Nelson said Powell River Arts Council will also have a booth set up on site to provide information about the upcoming Cultural Diversity Festival, set to take place on Saturday, October 1 at Powell River Recreation Complex.

Things will be quite lively on the bandstand as well. Many local musicians have volunteered their time to perform over the course of the weekend. “It’s the same old usual suspects,” said Nelson, referring to not only a long list of returning performers but to sound technician Michael Conway-Brown as well. A few new faces are also promised on stage.

Speaking of promises, one thing artists and event-goers will not have to worry about is the park’s sprinkler system. “Everybody should know that we turn the water park off and the sprinklers off for the entire duration of the weekend,” said Nelson. City of Powell River has promised that it will override the computerized watering system to avoid any incidents like one that occurred in the event’s early days. Though able to look back on it now in good humour, Nelson does remain a little sensitive about the subject.

Sprinklers notwithstanding, she said the event will take place rain or shine. “We have decided that if you choose to live in the Pacific Northwest on the edge of a rainforest that you’d better come prepared to enjoy it, whatever it turns out to be.”

The event runs from 11 am to 7 pm on Saturday and 11 am to 6 pm on Sunday. Set-up for artists begins at 8:30 am on both days. Application forms are available at and are still being accepted for those who wish to display their work.

For more information, interested readers, artists and vendors may contact Nelson 604.483.9345 or Pearson 604.485.0446.