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Gabriola's Cultivate arts festival features film, music and more

Gabriola Arts Council's annual celebration will be held at multiple venues from July 10-14
Em Haine, top, and Caitlynne Medrek on set playing sisters Hailey and Rose, respectively, during the filming of 'Hailey Rose.'

Gabriola Arts Council’s annual celebration of the arts will take over the island in a whirlwind four-day celebration this week.

Patrons can soak in the sights and sounds of the council’s sixth Cultivate arts festival over its 11 events from Wednesday to Sunday, July 10-14.

This year the festival will see a concentration of performances at the Gabriola Commons Reservoir Mainstage. And during the day, Thursday to Sunday, there will be events at the Gabriola Arts and Heritage Centre, the Gabriola Theatre Centre and the Poetry Yurt at the Gabriola Commons.

While this year’s program consists predominantly of sound and musical events, there will also be a puppet show and workshop, a staging of Art by the Gabriola Players, and a film screening of Hailey Rose.

Chelsea Rushton, Cultivate’s program manager, said she was excited about the potential prospect of an inaugural film screening as part of Cultivate.

Hailey Rose, written and directed by Sandi Somers, will show at the Gabriola Theatre Centre on July 13, and has been described as a “heartfelt contemporary family comedy about love in all its expressions.” It premiered at the 2023 Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival, and was subsequently screened at the 2023 Calgary International Film Festival and at the 2023 Whistler Film Festival.

Em Haine, who plays the the protagonist, said in an e-mail that they were thrilled the film will show on Gabriola Island.

“I have a deeply personal connection to the West Coast ... The film itself, however, is very East Coast. Taking place in Cape Breton, the literal opposite side of the country. It has a very distinct culture, accent and frequency,” they said.

Haine continued to say during other festivals the feedback the crew received was about how real the characters felt.

“We captured some small town Canadiana in this, and that includes the people. Sandi [the writer] was committed to authentic casting and writing what she knew having grown up as a Cape Bretoner.”

As for the actor, Haine said they felt a distinct association with Hailey – a 20-something lesbian returning home to unpack childhood trauma. They said doing so wasn’t necessarily a task on their’s or the character’s to-do lists.

“Life has a funny way of bringing you back to yourself, doesn’t it?,” they asked.

The Cultivate screening will include a conversation and audience questions-and-answers session with Haine as well as the principal researcher for Queer Cinema Archive, Derek Le Beau.

As a new partner with Cultivate, the Brickyard Beach Music and Arts Festival will kick off celebrations on Wednesday, July 10, at Brickyard Beach.

According to Rushton, the creator of the event, Adam Larson, has been putting the community festival on for three years. Including it with Cultivate was a nod to his efforts to provide a weekly event all summer long for and with the residents of Gabriola. Beyond Cultivate, Brickyard Beach Music and Arts Festival will continue independently on Wednesdays until Sept. 4.

Cultivate will end on July 14 with a closing performance by Order of Canada recipient and B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame inductee blues musician Jim Byrnes, who has many award-winning albums to his name, such as the Maple Blues Awards, the Junos Awards, Canadian Folk Music Awards, and Western Canada Music Awards. He will also be appearing in Nanaimo during the Nanaimo Blues Society’s Blues Festival in August.

More information on the Cultivate Festival can be found online at


Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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