The Sunshine Coast arts and entertainment scene enjoyed a banner year in 2018, with another string of successful festivals, fairs, shows and exhibitions.
From the Pender Harbour Music Society’s weekend of chamber music in January, to the summer festivals and fairs, to the arts-rich autumn and the seventh local incarnation of The Nutcracker in December, the stellar artistic reputation of this community, from Langdale to Egmont, in visual arts, theatre, dance, writing and music has only grown and shows no signs of diminishing.
There are far too many worthy events to mention in a few pages, but here is a selection.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: School District No. 46 Music Theatre Ensemble’s 38-member cast sported many colours in their rehearsal T-shirts. The musical, with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, had a vibrant four-show run at Chatelech Secondary School in February and March.
54-40 plays Sechelt: Vancouver-based and with an international following, the band 54-40 visited the Coast in March for two shows at Raven’s Cry Theatre in Sechelt. The musicians usually turn their amps up to 11, but they tamped it down with acoustic sets for the smaller venue. The shows were no less rousing.
A first for Canada: In May, artist Annie Aculiak and husband Pierre Jacques opened the Annie Aculiak Studio and Inuit Gallery at 5700 Cowrie Street in Sechelt, the first Inuit-run art gallery in Canada. The gallery houses Aculiak’s feltwork, prints and beaded jewelry, and the work of her soapstone carving family as well. The couple plan to move the studio and gallery to Sunnycrest Mall in January. See www.annieaculiak.com for more.
All that jazz: The Gibsons Jazz festival offered a variety of acts including Mimosa, “who supplied a smooth set of contemporary vocal jazz that finished up with a Cuban-scented original number that got the crowd tapping,” writer Paul Dwyer reported. Among other acts over the beautiful June weekend were the Nick La Riviere Septet, the Vince Mai Quintet, Laila Biali, the SD46 Jazz Band and Deepwater Sound.
Circus in the woods: Aerialists Keely Sills and Kira Schaffer were among the troupe of performers in the Rainforest Circus in July at Cliff Gilker Park in Roberts Creek. Not your average big-tent spectacle, the audience was guided on a one-hour walk through the park’s hilly forest to see acrobatics, hear live music and meet with clowns, actors and storytellers along the way.
Writers festival: A cultural high point of our local summers for 36 years now, the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts drew thousands of people to see and hear some of their favourite Canadian writers in a four-day August weekend celebration. Pictured (from left) are author Sheena Kamal, author Charles Demers and his daughter Josephine, Bev Shaw, owner of Talewind Books, and Demers’s wife Cara Ng.
Praiseworthy players: The Pender Harbour Chamber Music Festival at the School of Music at Madeira Park Aug. 17 to 19 featured the Victoria-based Lafayette String Quartet in this, the festival’s 14th year. The program included works by Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart, among other composers.
DeGrass departs: She wrote about arts and entertainment on the Sunshine Coast for 20 years and a little “me time” was long overdue, so in September Jan DeGrass left the weekly journalism of the Coast Reporter behind to pursue book writing. Left but not gone away: “I’m not going to miss a lot because I still want to go to these arts events,” DeGrass said.
Art, the play: The friendship of three men in Paris goes through some hard twists and turns as an expensive abstract painting one of them has purchased becomes a revealing catalyst. The Tony award-winning play, Art, written by Yasmina Reza and directed by Sally Williams, starred (from left) Richard Austin, Norm Blair and Larry Musser, in an 11-performance run in October at the Heritage Playhouse.
Sechelt Festival of the Arts: The multi-venue, multi-event annual festival kicked off in early October before sold-out crowds at the shíshálh First Nation longhouse with the avant garde circus called Satio. More well-attended events and exhibitions followed over two weeks as the festival celebrated its 15th anniversary.
Art crawl: The three-day Sunshine Coast Art Crawl in mid-October had its best year ever in 2018, with more venues, attendance and sales than in any of its previous seven years. The Art of Healing fundraiser for the Sechelt Hospital Foundation doubled as an Art Crawl venue at the Sunshine Coast Golf and Country Club. During the event, Mike Carson got himself a painting by artist Paula O’Brien.
Coast Creatives: One of the Gibsons Public Art Gallery’s biggest draws of the year was the Coast Creatives: On the Wall – Off the Wall exhibition curated by Janice Williams, which included works from 60 local artists and also featured six well-attended, two-hour open-mic events in November. Writer Marilyn Browning used her five-minute slot to talk hilariously about her creative process.
The Nutcracker: The Coast Along Theatre Society’s seventh annual production of the iconic seasonal ballet played before appreciative audiences in six performances at Raven’s Cry Theatre just before Christmas. Pictured is Snow Queen Danielle Gould dancing with Snow King Alexandre Lobo.
Festival of Lights: The 2018 Festival of Lights Dec. 1 was another success story in a year loaded with them. The ninth annual lighted truck parade had more entries than ever in the downtown Sechelt spectacle. The entry from Saxon Contracting depicting Santa’s sled and reindeer was awarded top prize.