Wednesday, September 27, 2006

They Want It All!

An editorial in the Cobourg Star has drawn attention to the problem of scheduling major arts and cultural events in Northumberland.

“We want it all! It's absolutely marvellous that our communities have so much going on in them - so much to enrich the lives of our residents, so much to attract visitors. But why, oh why, do we have to have two or three major events all on one weekend?
This past weekend, Port Hope was jumping with its fifth annual all-Canadian Jazz Festival, an event that seems to have really found its legs after a few dubious years.
At the same time, in nearby Cobourg, the downtown Harvest Festival was in full swing and the Dragon Boat races were also competing for our attention.
Granted, these three events may be said to draw three separate audiences, however, it is not incomprehensible that a family, an individual or a group might have wanted to take in all three.”

Now, Cobourg and Port Hope are close, geographically, but not so close that anyone could conveniently give proper due to all three, or even two, of these events on one little weekend.
There are fifty-two weekends in one year. We are told by tourism consultants that shoulder seasons - that is, fall and spring - are ideal staging targets for festivals and such.
One reason is the weather. In winter and summer, Canadian weather may be too cold or too hot for comfort for outdoor venues. And we do like to be outdoors.
Now, this past weekend was not a good example of fine fall weather, nor was the Labour Day weekend, when the Shelter Valley Festival goers suffered through what looked like the tail end of a tropical storm.
But, we cannot plan the weather, we can only plan around it.
What we can plan are the dates of these wonderful attractions, which nobody wants to miss.
If ever there was a case for some county-wide co-ordination, or at least some common-sense co-operation between Cobourg and Port Hope, this is it.
So much work - virtually all of it done by dedicated volunteers - goes into staging these events.
Couldn't we take five minutes, before the work starts, to plan the dates so that we're not left with some weekends at loose ends, while others are so jam-packed with events that would-be attendees cannot get to them?
We understand that one aim of the Northumberland Arts Coalition is to help coordinate arts events so that they complement - rather than compete - with one another. Great.
Maybe we could get other events, not strictly within the arts sphere, to compare notes, as well.
It would be nice to be able to appreciate all that hard work.


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