Although it’s slated for this spring, organizers with the Red Deer Festival of the Performing Arts are putting the call out for participants – and some community financial support – as plans take shape.
Paul Gowans, president of the Red Deer Festival of the Performing Arts Society, said the deadline for registration is Jan. 31. Upwards of 1,000 entries and ultimately about 6,000 people are expected to be involved this year, he said. About 200 volunteers typically sign up to help out as well.
But this year, some serious funding pressures have surfaced, he said.
“We’re probably going to have to raise about $12,000 more than last year,” he said.
That mostly stems from losing administrative help from Red Deer College because of internal staffing changes there, he said. That has required the hiring of a new director for the Festival – thus the primary reason for the overall hike in costs.
The $12,000 is just part of the $40,000 in total that has to be raised for overall costs to stage the event.
“Also, the province has cut back money that was available,” he said. “So we have a shortfall of about $16,000.
“We need major donations from the public at large. We also need people who are prepared to give to the festival year after year after year.”
The beginnings of the Festival stretch back to 1962 when the late Dr. Stuart Fleming of Red Deer, who was then a Kiwanis Lt. Governor of Western Canada District, traveled western Canada to visit other clubs. He later made a presentation to the Red Deer Club board about getting involved in projects that featured music.
The first entries in 1964 included mostly piano and vocal solos and a few school choruses, according to Society records.
For years, the Festival was known as the Kiwanis Music Festival, then the Festival of the Performing Arts and since 1986 the Red Deer Festival of the Performing Arts.
“The changes, orchestrated by members of the Kiwanis Club, reflected the need to accommodate a wider variety of the performing arts in the festival and to appeal to a broader range of donors for funding.”
Scholarships have always been a key part of the event as well. But with growth has come increased costs. In 1964, the event’s budget was about $2,000. By 1988 – it’s 25th year – it stood at about $22,000.
In 2014, it stands at $77,500.
Meanwhile, the Festival has always been an important part of the community as a means of allowing students to showcase their talents.
“Most importantly, it’s to provide an opportunity for people to get some self-confidence, learn some discipline by practice – those are the things that are really important,” said Gowans.
“We encourage members of the public to come out to the Festival as well – some of the performances are just phenomenal,” he said. A performers’ showcase runs May 3 at Living Stones Church, and features some participants who are moving onto further provincial competitions.
“We want to invite the public to that.”
For more information about the Festival, or about offering some financial support, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 403-986-4967, or contact Festival Director Ashley Miller at Ashley.email@example.com.