RETRO-spective celebrates our 50th

Oliver’s arts council is going “retro” to celebrate its 50th anniversary and kicks off the occasion with a fun contest called “RETRO-spective”, awarding prizes at summer’s end.

On June 24, 1970, the Oliver Community Arts Council was incorporated as a BC society, and has been “running” ever since, just like its quirky quail logo. The council represents all visual and performing arts: dance, theatre, choirs, instrumental groups, mixed media, textile and fibre arts groups, graphic design, painters, photographers, and culinary arts. The council produces several events each year: the Fall Art Show & Sale, Music in the Park, Holly Jolly Oliver, Showcase of Talent, CreateAbility, and the Wine Capital Art Walk. The council includes twenty member groups, fifteen member businesses and roughly eighty individual members.

The council invites the public to submit their favourite memories of the Oliver arts scene any time from the last 50 years. Entries can take the form of funny anecdotes, sentimental stories, old photos, or memorabilia from an arts event. Submissions can also be fresh creations: a collage, commemorative poem or song, celebratory dance, sculpture or painting. Entries are accepted from the general public, whether audience members, artists, performers, arts event organizers, or volunteers, whether last year or last century.  

All ages and skill levels, both locals and non-locals, arts council members and non-members are welcome to enter. Now is the time to dig out the old photo album or box of souvenirs, recall your favourite memories, or simply to reflect on what Oliver’s arts scene means to you. Perhaps Agnes Sutherland taught you piano in the 70s, or you performed in a musical on the old Venables stage. Maybe you strolled through a Summer Studio exhibit in the CPR station in the 90s, took an art class, won an award at the Fall Art Show or rocked out last summer at a concert in the park.  

Submit entries by email, attached as a photo, document, or video. Send to OliverCAC @ with the subject line “RETRO-spective”. For more information, call 250-498-0183. RETRO-spective runs from June 24 to August 24. A committee will select three winners, each receiving their choice of $50 gift certificate from one of the arts council’s many member groups and businesses.

Fall Art Show postponed to 2021

The Oliver Community Arts Council regrets to announce the cancellation of its 37th annual Fall Art Show and Sale which was set for October 3 – 4, 2020.  For the last 14 years, this large multimedia art show has appeared in the same venue and on the same weekend as Cask and Keg (Saturday) and the Festival of the Grape (Sunday). Both these Oliver Tourism events were cancelled in mid-June.

While the Fall Art Show and Sale (FASS) ran for more than two decades independently, it would be very difficult to maintain the distancing and sanitization necessary to mount this flagship event in a comparable format. The FASS requires 300 person-hours just during the one-day set-up and two-day show, with large crews working closely together to move display materials and furnishings, receive and return artwork, display the art, and providing services during the show. Maintaining distance between visitors viewing artwork poses many challenges, as would sanitizing between visits. Extending the length of the show to allow a prolonged set-up and public viewing in smaller numbers would increase expenses, especially rental; and the lack of other drivers that draw audiences would seriously compromise revenue.  We are also aware that many participants and volunteers fall into a high-risk category for COVID-19.

The arts council is rescheduling the Fall Art Show and Sale for Saturday October 2 and Sunday October 3rd in 2021, in conjunction with the Fall Festival weekend. The theme of the show will remain the same as planned for this year: “Seasons of Life”. Any artwork already begun or considered for this year using that theme will be welcomed next year. As is usual, art with other subject matter will also be accepted. Updated entry forms for 2021 will be made available by the fall. Click the hyperlink or email us for your form. We look forward to displaying beautiful artwork next year!

In the meantime, arts council members are warmly encouraged to share photos and video of any ongoing art projects by emailing them to us. We would be happy to share them on our website, Facebook page, and newsletter.

SO Concert Society cancels 2020-21 season

The executive of the South Okanagan Concert Society met June 15th and is sad to announce that the concert season for 2020/2021 is cancelled as a result of the COVID19 pandemic. A variety of conditions forced this decision.

First, musicians already booked to come from Quebec and points East simply cannot know whether travel will be possible or not. Their concerts in B.C. are only financially viable with pre-arranged tours because of the high expense involved in travel. The uncertainty has led agents to reluctantly propose postponing for the following season.

The SOCS executive looked at the possibility of trying to book only B.C. musicians. A number of considerations, should this be possible, still stood in the way. The small numbers allowed to gather for performances providing sufficient distancing make it impossible to cover the costs. “We are not prepared to sacrifice the quality of our performances,” said SOCS President Janet Marcotte (pictured onstage at right). That would likely happen if much reduced artist fees had to be part of the budget requirements.

Other considerations also came into play. With only a small number spread throughout the concert hall it would greatly affect the atmosphere of those who did attend. The regular patrons love the strong sense of community, the meeting with friends, the conviviality around the concerts and not just the performance. Providing this atmosphere has been a big part of the SOCS mission and success.

The possibility of doing 2 concerts in one evening to bring more regular patrons in and also increase income would involve a huge amount of fast cleaning between concerts by extra paid staff, no receptions and no mingling with friends in the lobby.

Live streaming was also considered as a possible solution. Again, the executive spoke to the needs of our patrons. Most are passionate for top quality LIVE music and many are of an age where live streaming has little appeal. The age factor also means our patrons are particularly vulnerable to the virus.

Although the Venables Theatre staff have literally bent over backwards to try and accommodate the SOCS needs and their efforts are much appreciated, the SOCS executive reluctantly decided to cancel the concert season. As Covid19 conditions change, all efforts will go into planning for another concert season in the future and a possible lone concert or two in the new year.

The AGM of the South Okanagan Concert Society will take place at 10:30 am Wednesday, July 8th, at Venables Theatre. All members welcome.

Submitted by Marion Boyd