Strike may move Arts on the Fly

Arts on the Fly in Horsefly may be moved due to the labour dispute between B.C. teachers and the government.

While Arts on the Fly organizers scramble to find alternate accommodation for the July festival in Horsefly, teachers and the district seem to be at odds over whether the event can be held on school property if teacher strike action continues through the summer.

“Rumour has it that Arts on the Fly, the Cariboo’s biggest music and dance festival, is being affected by the teacher’s strike since the festival is usually held on school grounds,” says festival chair Marin Patenaude.

But she says the festival committee is confident the show will go on as usual in the Horsefly school field and rink on July 11 and 12.

If by small chance the festival isn’t given access to the Horsefly school field and rink area, she says the main stage will simply move down to the Salmon Hatchery grounds with the approval from DFO as a last resort.

Cariboo Chilcotin Teachers Association president Murray Helmer says hosting Arts on the Fly on the Horsefly School grounds should not be a problem whether the teacher strike continues into the summer or ends sooner with a deal.

“Arts on the Fly would not be an issue for us,” Helmer says. “We have allowed daycares to continue that are housed in schools, and we are not picketing third party user groups. The issue resides with the school district for Arts on the Fly.”

School District 27 Superintendent Mark Thiessen says the district has not been able to guarantee the use of school property for any community user groups for July and August.

“At this point, we are uncertain if there will be a settlement in the provincial negotiations or if our schools and other district buildings will remain behind picket lines into the summer months,” Thiessen says.

“We are hoping to have more clarity by the end of this week as we expect the BCTF will announce their intentions regarding the strike and picket lines for July and August,” Thiessen says. “To be safe, we have advised the organizers of any community events to seek alternate locations for their events this summer.”

Helmer says the issue of whether teachers will continue picketing if the strike continues through the summer is currently unresolved.

“At Cataline, the balanced calendar program is in session for the month of July, and we have two teachers working there, so pickets may be required unless some arrangement is made provincially,” Helmer says.

Meanwhile Patenaude invites everyone to come out and enjoy Arts on the Fly in Horsefly July 11 and 12.

“The show goes on,” reports Patenaude. “Arts On The Fly Festival Society is in high gear of preparation for another wonderful year of music, dance, community, and family friendly good times.

“There are more high caliber musicians gracing the little town of Horsefly than ever before, including ska, funk and soul rockers Roots Roundup, and country boot stompers Real Ponchos, and so much more.”

On Monday evening the BC School Trustees Association called for both parties (BCTF and BCPSEA) to end the lock-out immediately, however, as of press deadline no agreement had been made.