The Gabriola Arts Council has folded its music and theatre festivals into one event, Cultivate, which runs from Aug. 16 to 19. (Photo courtesy Gabriola Arts Council)

The Gabriola Arts Council has folded its music and theatre festivals into one event, Cultivate, which runs from Aug. 16 to 19. (Photo courtesy Gabriola Arts Council)

Inaugural Cultivate Festival comes to Gabriola Commons

Event combines theatre and music festivals into one celebration

This would have been the 10th year of the Gabriola Theatre Festival. Instead, it is the first year of Cultivate Performing Arts Festival.

The Gabriola Arts Council has combined its long-running theatre showcase with the music festival that was launched last year to create the new multi-disciplinary celebration. Cultivate takes pace from Aug. 16 to 19.

“Our thought was actually that they should be together. That there’s a lot of exciting things that happen when you bring together two forms like that. So we’re really trying to play the crossover part,” said Mitch Miyagawa, Gabriola Arts Council program director.

He added that holding the event on a single weekend, as opposed to festivals on two separate weekends, was done to better convenience attendees. It also aims to bring together fans of theatre and music, who Miyagawa said have overlapping interests.

Also new this year is the venue. Instead of holding festivities in the parking lot of the main village shopping area like the old theatre festival, Cultivate takes place at Gabriola Commons, a spacious agricultural property across from Gabriola Elementary School.

“It’s just a really beautiful setting and it’s a community setting – there’s a community group that runs it,” Miyagawa said.

“So it’s a really exciting thing for us to do and it’s partly what inspired the name ‘Cultivate,’ too, is that we’re cultivating culture, we’re cultivating performance but it’s also a tie to the agricultural roots of the island.”

Miyagawa said the festival’s performers are primarily regional. In terms of music, he said an effort was made to “create more of a bridge” with the Nanaimo scene, and the festival will feature Nanaimo acts like Top Men and the Stacks.

“We did put a special emphasis on trying to find theatre that had musical elements and music that had theatrical elements,” Miyagawa continued.

“So a lot of the theatre has music really woven into it, live performed music, and on the music side diversity was really our focus … and we really tried to make it quite an eclectic musical selection.”

Barring any “complete disasters,” Miyagawa said Cultivate will permanently replace the theatre and music festivals. He said organizers are already thinking about how it will continue to evolve going forward.

“I hope that the fans of the Gabriola Theatre Festival will find that it’s like an expanded version of the thing that they love. Coming to see a bunch of great theatre shows and then being able to walk 100 feet and listen to great music, too,” he said.

WHAT’S ON … The inaugural Cultivate Performing Arts Festival takes place at the Gabriola Commons, 675 North Rd., from Aug. 16 to 19. For a full schedule and ticket options visit www.cultivate.artsgabriola.ca.



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

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