Registration is still open for the 2020 Performances in the Park for all performing arts, not just music, until March 3.
This popular lakecity summer event is now being run by the Community Arts Council of Williams Lake’s program co-ordinator Venta Rutkauskas, who has taken the position of manager of the event.
Rutkauskas has been busy finding funding, organizing acts and reporting and documenting the process for the summer-long event.
Something new for this year, Rutkauskas wants to start promoting her vision of diversifying the event, specifically the type of acts they offer.
“It’s all part of taking a balanced approach to arts and culture. We need to recognize that… the more inclusive we are the richer your product will be I would love to see anybody (apply),” Rutkauskas said, noting she would like to change the structure of how the event has been run some to allow for a wider range of performing arts to be showcased.
Traditionally, she said, there has been two one-hour acts broken up by an intermission but she thinks they could break that up some to allow more acts. For example, she could see them breaking up one hour into three 20 minutes section to allow spoken word artists a chance to perform.
While she’s mostly seen musicians apply for the event so far, Rutkauskas is encouraging actors, poets and painters to apply as well and hopes to see more of these types of performances moving forward. She also wants to see more local First Nations art and culture represented on the stage, as it’s clear to her they play a large role in the local community.
The multicultural aspect of Williams Lake, she feels, isn’t represented often on lakecity stages and she’d like to do her part to change that. To that end, she’s working with several local groups including the Cariboo Mental Health Association, the Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy and the Williams Lake Indian Band to make it happen. She hopes, for example, that around Stampede time if a powwow group is coming through the lakecity they might consider performing one night in Boitanio Park.
Growing up as a member of the Lithuanian community in Montreal, Rutkauskas was surrounded by traditional dance and would really love to see a dance troupe of some kind perform on stage.
Likewise, she envisions the Williams Lake Studio Theatre putting on a one-act or having the CACWL’s president, Sonya Littlejohn, lead an hour of the spoken word.
“If it hasn’t been done, we should try it,” Rutkauskas said.
While she has a lot of ideas, including a Williams Lake Talent Show segment, she said that not everything has to be accomplished all in one year. Rutkauskas simply hopes to encourage and push the event towards these types of acts over the next few years.
So far, Rutkauskas said she has had around 20-30 acts apply over the course of the last few weeks online and it’s been a mix of new acts and returning acts from all over B.C. and beyond, with one band even applying from North Africa.
She’s noticed a lot of progressive folk groups applying along with some rock and traditional folk and country — some of whom would be amazing, others of whom she fears she can’t afford.
At the moment Rutkauskas is doing a juggling act as she’s considering her current applications but still doing her best to keep her slots open for last-minute submissions and acts with local cultural elements.
Anyone interested in applying can do so on Performances in the Park’s website.
If anyone has any questions about the process they can contact Rutkauskas at email@example.com to talk to her directly.
She plans to have the schedule set sometime between March 20 and early April so that the performers have enough time to put it into their summer schedule.
The lineup will be announced to the general public sometime in May, to give Rutkauskas time to find event sponsors for each night, as about a third of the concert series is offered thanks to business donations and support.
This year Performances in the Park takes place every Thursday this summer from July 2 until Aug. 20.
Performances in the Park is presented by the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society under the management of The Community Arts Council of Williams Lake, with the support of the Cariboo Regional District and the City of Williams Lake.