It’s a sign the summer season has arrived in Whitehorse.
The sounds of local musical talents are heard resonating from LePage Park as a visual artist is hard at work producing a masterpiece and leading others looking to create their own artwork.
Arts in the Park is set to begin a new season May 21. It will continue each weekday (except holidays) until Aug. 2 over the noon hour and at 7 p.m. on Wednesday evenings. The program sees a different musician takes to the park stage each weekday, while each of the visual artists involved are there over the noon hour for a full week.
“Our first show is always a good turnout,” producer and programmer Geneviève Doyon said in a May 15 interview.
That first show is often a bit of a reunion for the core audience who come to take in the noontime shows every day, she said.
The 2019 lineup features a long list of talents beginning with the All City Band on stage and Michel Gignac as the visual artist for the week of May 21 to 24.
Gignac is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work has been displayed numerous times in recent years in both solo and group exhibitions at the Yukon Arts Centre and Arts Underground, along with a variety of galleries Outside.
A list of established and emerging artists follow for the remainder of the summer ranging from sculptor Harreson Tanner to painter Rosemary Scanlon on the visual arts side and the likes of the Whitehorse Chamber Choir or Animal Warfare Act, a metal band, on the musical side.
In Doyon’s memory this may be the first time a metal band has performed at Arts In the Park.
“We try to program variety,” she said.
It’s in March that Doyon sends a call out to local artists and musicians wanting to perform. With only 62 music spots available and 11 visual artist spaces available through the 11-week festival, the number of interested artists outnumber the spots available.
Doyon said she looks for a variety of genres or mediums in the case of visual artists as well as a combination of experienced and emerging talents and has worked towards gender equity in the lineup.
There’s also an effort to give school bands and youth a chance to perform for a new audience. For little ones who come to take in the shows, seeing an older youth up on stage can be an inspiration.
“It’s always a great time,” Doyon said.
Despite students being a bit nervous before taking to the stage, by the end the show it has in the past turned into a bit of a celebration as one of the last performances of the school year.
The noon hour show on Wednesday is always set as family day with a younger audience in mind. The likes of Remy Rodden and the Bingo Bongo Boogie Band among others are scheduled there.
It’s the Wednesday shows that are typically the attendance record-breakers for Arts In The Park as both families and daycare staff head to the park with youngsters to take in the performance.
In the past there’s been crowds of up to 300 people on Wednesdays when the weather cooperates, Doyon said.
A new addition to Arts In The Park in recent years has been the 7 p.m. Wednesday performance, aimed at those who may not otherwise make it out to the noon time show and may be looking for a little louder of a show.
“It’s a different kind of audience,” Doyon said, noting the evening shows often draw a crowd of older youth and young adults who specifically come to see the band that is performing that night. It also aims to add a little bit of life to the downtown core.
The noontime shows, on the other hand, tend to draw those wanting to hear some music or take in some art during their lunch break, Doyon said.
This year’s schedule will also feature a songwriters panel on July 18 where about a half dozen songwriters will showcase what they produced from an exercise that has them write a song around a particular theme or subject that is then performed at the panel.
As Doyon gets set to kick-off the 2019 season, she said she is also pleased to have local musician Paris Pick on-board as the associate producer for the summer.
Doyon previously worked with Pick at a Girls Rock Camp. Pick’s enthusiasm and energy stood out for Doyon, who also highlighted Pick’s experience on stage as an asset in her role as associate producer, which largely supports the artists involved.
As Doyon gets ready for the 2019 Arts In The Park season, she said she’s also looking forward to seeing the visual pieces that will be produced.
One of her favourite Arts In the Park visual pieces is a mural that remains in the park produced by Ali Koda, who is also scheduled to be part of this year’s festivities.
Walking by the park in the winter months and seeing the mural always serves as a good reminder of the summer festival, she said.
“That piece has remained almost intact.”
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org