The Epistle of Q — Chapter 168

The Need for more Coordination in the Arts

While this is primarily focused on a challenge in the geographic vicinity of my residence, there are implications for all of us. The pandemic has hit the Arts communities harder than most but in the re-emergence, it will be essential that there is more collaboration than ever to ensure that the Arts return to a prominent part of the social/cultural fabric of our world.

The recently established collaborative arts organization, SOS Arts, (SOS stands for South Okanagan-Similkameen) is now more relevant and more needed than ever. Since the end of the ski season in the Okanagan there have been three major new spring festivals: one in Penticton (Ignite the Arts), another in Osoyoos (Osoyoos Spring Festival…) and the third being the Okanagan Zone Theatre Festival in Oliver (drama). I extensively attended the first two. When I told people about the fun I was having, they invariably said: I didn’t know, why didn’t I know? And therein lies the challenge for the Arts community.

We need to move out of our silos across all arts forms and across the South Okanagan and Similkameen. As importantly, we have to significantly increase the levels of cooperation if we want to compete in the larger world of entertainment. We could take a page from PEI’s arts playbook – everyone there is all about making sure all Arts are front and centre. If one venue does well, all are better for it. They seem to adopt the motto: the rising tide floats all boats!

SOS Arts is an emerging organization that just might be the beacon needed to shine real light on the way forward. SOS Arts is a budding collaborative group that, if supported, could coordinate and disseminate the necessary information and data so we all could be sufficiently aware of what (& when) each community is offering – what events are coming and where partnerships could be established to share certain artists or events thus lowering the individual costs while expanding the accessibility (and thus enlarging the audiences).

An environmental scan has just been completed in the South Okanagan giving a much better idea of who and what is currently available to support, produce and sell many kinds of art and artistry in the South Okanagan-Similkameen. Now we need to move to the next level. Here are some things we should start accomplishing now:
• We need the RDOS (Regional District Okanagan Similkameen) to get behind SOS Arts (just like the Osoyoos Town Council got financially behind the Osoyoos District Arts Council Spring Festival).
• We need a collective calendar to be developed and made readily available through all media platforms.
• We should start conversations with BC Transit towards the goal of establishing them as a participating sponsor whereby bus runs could be developed permitting people to be shuttled after hours between communities thus allow more to attend great artistic moments in other communities.
We need to dissolve our silos – leaders in the various arts organizations and groups need to see that sharing is the only way to effectively move each and every artistic endeavour to a higher and more successful plane. The Arts, by their very nature, only come alive when shared – let’s get that sharing started by giving SOS ARTS the support it needs so it can, in turn, expand the support and knowledge of every type of Arts and artist collective throughout the South Okanagan-Similkameen.

Sports organizations know the value of sharing timetables, information and support; now let’s put the Arts in a similar position of progress, growth and enhancement…