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Partnership aims to improve experience

PRISMA reputation scores record applications
Chris Bolster

Organizers of Powell River’s summer music academy are touting a new partnership which they say will not only improve student experience during their two-week stay, but also benefit the community.

This year’s academy runs from June 15 to 27 and gives students the opportunity to learn more about becoming professional musicians, as well as raising Powell River’s arts profile.

Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy (PRISMA) director Arthur Arnold said he has been working with Powell River Town Centre Hotel owner Jack Barr to create a partnership which provides students with rooms at a discounted rate during one of the busiest times of the year for the hotel.

“When they have an hour off or their colleagues have lessons they can come back to the hotel for a nap or a rest,” said Arnold.

In years previous, students participating in PRISMA had rooms in a Townsite hotel, but had to spend long hours at Powell River Recreation Complex where lessons were being held.

“It was hard for them,” he added. “By doing this, the learning experience is going to be way better.”

Students will be staying three to a room and plans are to set aside 25 of the hotel’s 72 rooms during those two weeks, said Barr, who also serves as president of Powell River Chamber of Commerce.

As a business leader, Barr said he is pleased to be able to support Powell River arts in this way as there are clear benefits for the local economy.

Barr said space is also being provided for PRISMA at Powell River Town Centre Mall to promote the festival and give the public a location to purchase tickets and learn more about the summer music academy.

Students will be performing live in the mall this year.

Improving student experience is critical to PRISMA’s objectives, said Arnold, because it is competing worldwide for students. Word of mouth and testimonials are key in bringing the best to Powell River each year.

According to a report prepared by PRISMA on last year’s event, the academy brings approximately $650,000 in measurable economic activity to Powell River, as well as “a positive effect on tourism, business attraction, property values, civic pride and community cohesiveness.”

Powell River not only benefits by bringing students and faculty to the town, the organization also creates jobs for local people which helps boost Powell River’s percentage of arts-related employment, a sector previously identified as having fewer jobs than the provincial average, Arnold said.

He said this year they have added a facility and transportation coordinator position to payroll which makes five paid part-time jobs.

“It adds a lot to Powell River’s arts and culture,” he said.

As the academy has grown each year, so has its reputation.

Arnold said that they have already received 167 applications and competition is tight for the 75 to 80 openings. “We’ve never had so many,” Arnold said.

Canadian cellist Amanda Forsyth, principal cellist for National Arts Centre Orchestra, as well as Elmira Darvarova, violin, former concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera New York, will join as faculty this year.

For more information readers can visit PRISMA’s website.