It's become a tradition to use my last column in December to reflect on some of the major arts events that happened over the year. Inevitably, this results in my Inbox lighting up with comments of the things I missed, but that's OK. Imagine how boring the world would be if we all like the same thing.
At the risk of offending people, here's my list of top 10 things I'll remember most about 2012 in the Kelowna arts:
1. The Losses:
We suffered the deaths of some truly fine people.
Among those who hit me the hardest was the passing of Tracie Ward. Tracie was the executive director of the Rotary Centre for the Arts and it was truly tragic to lose this big-hearted outspoken woman, who was such a champion for the arts.
We also lost Jennifer Hindle, who was a pioneer in Kelowna's arts community, and Kevin Richard, a young metal artist whose functional art can be found throughout the city.
All three will be fondly remembered for their contributions to the arts community.
2. The Fundraisers:
When sickness or disaster strikes for those of us who work in the arts, with no safety nets, things can go bad pretty quick
financially. Thankfully, there are friends who understand this.
Of the several fundraisers held this year, three come to mind: One for photographer Sean Connor in February, who had brain cancer; one held for injured musician Floyd Vedan at the end of the summer; and one held in October for writer Dona Sturmanis, who is battling breast cancer.
In addition to the help the money raised provides, there is nothing more healing for the spirit than knowing your friends are there to support you.
3. Great Live Theatre!
There were nights when three different plays were running at the same time this past year. Never has Kelowna had so much live theatre to enjoy.
Among the highlights for me were Kelowna Actors Studio's Nunsense and My Fair Lady; Bumbershoot Theatre's award-winning play, The Hundred Dresses; Shakespeare Kelowna's The Two Gentlemen of Verona; and Theatre Kelowna's Love on the Line and The Rockin' Tale of Snow White.
Sadly, 2012 saw the demise of Merritt Mountain Music Festival, Nakusp Music Festival and at least a one-year break for the Komasket Music Festival.
Attendance was down at Salmon Arm Roots and Blues and rain poured most of the weekend at Lille Gard.
Centre of Gravity, however, sold out, and the new Keloha festival was a big hit. Watch for both festival to return this summer.
The National Ballet of Cuba came and filled the Kelowna Community Theatre in February. I've been blessed in my life to see many amazing dance companies perform, but these dancers from Cuba were among the finest I've ever seen.
The women could balance seemingly forever in an arabesque, the height of the men's jumps was astounding and the sheer joy they expressed while performing made this one of the finest displays of dance I've seen.
Ballet Kelowna earned standing ovations as it celebrated their 10th anniversary season. They marked the milestone by adding two more dancers, increasing their size to eight.
6. Cirque du Soleil
I saw the show Quidam three times. My eyes welled up with tears from the poignant ending all three times.
I clapped until my hands hurt all three times.
I don't think I remembered to breathe even once during the performances by the girl in the silks.
Any time there is a chance to catch Cirque du Soleil live, I refuse to miss it.
7. Amazing Live Music
We all have our own taste in music so this one is controversial, but for me, the shows that stands out most for 2012 include Royal Wood's intimate concert at Minstrel Cafe, the James Bond Jazz Cafe, Lyle Lovett's outdoor concert on a hot summer night at Mission Hill Winery and dancing to Cod Gone Wild at a Parks Alive! event.
We are really lucky here in Kelowna to have some venues that bring in live music five to six days a week and regularly occurring events such as Jazz Cafe, Kelowna Folk Club concerts and a couple of annual Skookum Barn Dances.
Add to that the great music both Mission Hill and CedarCreek Estate Winery bring in during the summer and it gets pretty hard to pick a favourite.
There are lots of great shows coming up in 2013 that I know will make next year's list and I can hardly wait.
If you haven't been up to Bo.ttega for an event yet, you really owe it to yourself to pay more attention to what's going on up there. They've come up with some great concepts, such as the two Ten Ten Ten shows that featured 10 different creative people each talking or performing for 10 minutes for the cost of a $10 ticket.
They've brought us three successful Lille Gard Festivals and hosted several shows that are outside the box in nature. And of course, they have llamas outside.
The Wearable Art Gala continues to be one of Kelowna's artistic treasures. Other than the one year where they tried to move it to the summer and lost all the UBC Okanagan fine arts students, it's been a night unlike any other.
From the weird to the outrageous to the simply awe inspiring, the wearable art that gets modeled never ceases to amaze me. Watch for the event coming up again in the next few months.
10. Okanagan Successes Outside the Valley
This past year has seen some incredible stories of musicians from the Kelowna area that have done great things outside the valley.
Yukon Blonde became a household name, thanks to a few major hits off their sophomore album and then went on to tour with the Sheepdogs; Fields of Green won the CFOX Vancouver Seeds 2012 contest; Rick Poppa Dawg Halisheff won the right to represent B.C. at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis this January.
Add to that the young dancers
accepted into prestigious dance schools, the singers and musicians admitted into world renowned arts schools, the actors who are doing well in Vancouver and even Hollywood, and you can rest assured Kelowna's arts community is alive, thriving and well.
Here's wishing you an artful New Year.
- Glenna Turnbull is a freelance writer who has covered the Okanagan arts and entertainment scene for many years. Her column appears each Thursday in eVent. Email her at