Stephen Berg

Stephen Berg is executive director of the 94th Kiwanis Music Festival in Kelowna.

The new head of Kelowna’s Kiwanis Music Festival is a UBC Okanagan professor who has seen how participation in sports boosts academic performance.

Education professor Stephen Berg thinks the same is true with participation in the arts and its effect on academic performance.

Berg says his three children benefited from the annual Kelowna amateur music festival and that’s inspired him to become the festival’s executive director.

The 94th edition of the festival will take place this spring, with the registration deadline coming up on Jan. 22.

Amateur musicians perform in front of an audience and adjudicators brought in from outside the region.

“There’s a ton of research showing that music understanding and appreciation really improve cognitive and language development,” said Berg in a news release.

Berg has been involved in the non-profit group Right to Play.

“If children are engaged and having fun, this really helps them learn and grow as people,” he said.

The 2020 festival will present competitions in 12 music and dance categories from March 1 to May 7 with a gala concert on May 29.

The festival expects to surpass last year’s numbers of approximately 3,000 participants. At the 2019 festival, more than $10,000 was distributed in awards and scholarships.

“Registration fees are really quite inexpensive, so I would encourage as many as possible to come and perform in our comfortable, positive environment,” said Berg.

Register online at KelownaKiwanisFestival.com.