This summer will see a long-time favourite Whitehorse event returning to its optimal form.
After two COVID-constrained years, Arts in the Park is happily returning to in-person performances at LePage Park, beginning May 30.
This long-running weekly event has been a celebration of art and community for 26 years, providing free, family-friendly lunch hour performances through the summer, five days a week, plus Wednesday evening concerts. Arts in the Park joined forces with Music Yukon in 2010 and has boasted an extensive array of Yukon talent on its production board over the years.
This year will see some new organizers running the show: producer Beth Dart offers a decade and a half of festival producing experience, while Kelvin Smoler of Local Boy steps behind the soundboard, and new arrival Hannah Mazurek takes on the associate producer role.
“We’re all so excited to have an audience again and can’t wait to meet the community while sharing in song and stories,” said Dart.
While Arts in the Park’s return to live performance is exciting on many levels, it was never truly halted — the 2020-2021 seasons merely posed a challenge that prompted organizers to explore other avenues.
“Throughout the pandemic, we remained dedicated to providing paid opportunities for local artists within the ever-changing public health restrictions,” said Dart. “Through an incredible partnership with CJUC, we shifted to a live radio broadcast format in 2020 and 2021. In 2021, we delivered more than 45 concert and arts events with over 75 artists. It was an incredible experience and we are forever grateful for the community support over the past two years. But are we ever excited to return to live events in Lepage Park.”
This year’s roster returns to regularly scheduled programming; every Wednesday afternoon features a family-friendly performance for children and their guardians, while every Wednesday at 7 p.m. will feature a concert from local rock, alternative, and hip-hop acts. Regular weekday noon shows will feature everything from jazz trios to bluegrass to indie rock, showcasing a range of Yukon-wide talent.
Dart loves seeing what local artists have been brewing over the winter months, and what new ideas and collaborations they bring to the park. It’s impossible to decide which acts she’s looking forward to most.
“The territory hosts such a wealth of talent that it’s impossible to pack all those incredible acts into six weeks of shows,” she said. “We’re thrilled to have Juno-Award nominated Fawn Fritzen and David Restivo, a double bill with Gordie Tentrees and Mponda Kalunga (who is not only an incredible singer-songwriter, but also a professional boxer), a songwriter’s circle led by Yukon’s one-and-only BJ Maclean, and a killer hop-hop showcase of North Gold Entertainment’s Princess Melia, Mobb Diggity, and Pumpskii — to name just a few.”
This variety of performers reflects Arts in the Park’s dedication to creating an exchange between the public and local artists. As Dart explained it, the event operates with the goal of providing low-barrier access to professional performing arts that can be enjoyed by everyone, staying tuned to the needs of artists while ensuring events serve as well as reflect the community.
She encourages any musicians and artists interested in participating to get in touch with Music Yukon.
“If you’re a musician in the Yukon, we want to meet you. We exist to help artists achieve their artistic, career and business goals including musicianship, professionalism, business success, economic self-sufficiency and cultural expression. Get in touch – let’s chat about what you have in the works and how we can support you in the next steps of your career.”
As for this summer’s programming, Dart and the rest of the team can’t wait to share the season with everyone.
“It’s free, family-friendly, and community-based. It’s a true celebration of Yukon-grown arts and culture right in the heart of downtown. It’s a great way to get a sense of the wide range of talent that the Yukon has to offer. It’s a cool place to have your lunch and see some live music. It’s all-ages. It’s outdoors.”
Safe to say Arts in the Park is back, and inviting all to enjoy this summer to the fullest — live and loud at LePage.
Arts in the Park 2022 runs from May 30 to July 8 at LePage Park on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Wood Street. To keep up to date on programming, visit musicyukon.com/artsinthepark.
Willow Gamberg is the owner of Road Dogs Music Supply and The Lab Rehearsal Studios in downtown Whitehorse.