Artistic director pulls a hat trick

He’s only got six months. But Eric Epstein isn’t fazed. The artistic director of both the Guild Hall and the Yukon Arts Centre just…

He’s only got six months.

But Eric Epstein isn’t fazed.

The artistic director of both the Guild Hall and the Yukon Arts Centre just added another feather to his cap.

On Thursday, he was named artistic director for the Canada Winter Games Cultural Festival.

“From what I understand, it’s going to be the most significant cultural festival ever, at a Canada Winter Games,” said Epstein Friday.

Epstein will share the workload with the Guild’s current producer, Ryan McCallion, who was named the cultural festival’s producer.

“It would have been lovely to get going six months ago,” said Epstein.

“But we can do it in the time we’ve got.”

The cultural festival will be a huge gathering and showcase for northern talent, he said.

“It’s a real opportunity to experience the whole pan-northern talent pool and to tell stories of the North.”

The cultural fest activities will be taking place in a unique venue, said Epstein.

He wasn’t willing to say much more.

“It’s going to be a tent,” he finally admitted.

“But it will be a whole cultural village, a gathering place that will act as a centrepiece for the Games.”

There will be visual arts and crafts and a food component, he said.

“So, it will become a gathering place with a central square where pin trading, which is a major aspect of the Canada Winter Games, can go on.

“We want it to be the place where people come, gather; there’s performing arts, there’s visual arts — there’s just a great opportunity to experience northern culture both for locals and for the people from away.”

There are calls are out for proposals. And Epstein hopes to have all of them in by the end of September.

“Then, we can go through a process of who will be a part of it and how we’ll put it together,” he said.

Although there will be performers, artists and artisans from Nunuvut and the Northwest Territories, Epstein expects the majority of the acts will be local.

“We want to look at what we’ve got and see how inclusive we can be, but time and our budget puts a limit on the proposals,” he said.

And transportation, from Nunuvut and the Northwest Territories will be an issue, said Epstein.

However, the Games are presented as pan-northern and funding is coming from all three territories, he added.

“So, we’ll have to wait and see how well they support their artists in terms of transportation costs.”

Epstein also hasn’t ruled out bringing some artists up from down south “just to add a little spice,” he said.

“But really we want to showcase the North — this is part of our evolving vision,” he said.

But this vision isn’t going to materialize until Epstein sees all the proposals.

And the festival committee, which hired Epstein, really had the original vision, he added.

“I am only here to realize their vision.”

There are no full-scale productions in the works.

“We are planning to create a new collaboration of works,” said Epstein.

As artistic director, Epstein will oversee the entire production, and only offer input into specific pieces if he wants to see them developed further.

“We’re putting it all together in a way that creates a festival magic,” he said.

“In a way that the pieces all combine to create something a little bit larger.”

The cultural fest will take place on the Whitehorse waterfront from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. February 28th to March 6th.

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