The Kootenay Festival of the Arts is a venerable two-week festival that has been a cultural cornerstone of the history of Nelson, Trail, Castlegar and all the surrounding communities since 1930.
Indeed, it is one of the oldest festival traditions in BC. Its goal has always been to inspire, educate, evaluate and promote regional students in the performing arts disciplines of piano, strings, voice, choral, dance, drama and speech arts.
The festival supports the many disciplines of performing arts teaching in our region, through schools and private teachers. The Kootenay Festival of the Arts has embraced new forms of performing arts expression, while respecting and upholding the historical forms.
The format of the festival is to bring in excellent adjudicators in each discipline to work with students. Some students with unusual proficiency are referred to the provincial festival (Performing Arts BC) where they may excel and be given opportunity to showcase nationally. The festival is the only way to participate in the provincial and national festivals.
Local impact: The churches and theatre venues of Nelson have always participated in this festival. It opens opportunities for many volunteers to manage the venues and welcome the participants; many of these people are seniors.
Children as young as four-years-old participate as well as adult learners. Local businesses and sponsors have contributed in support of the event since its inception.
It is estimated that more than 3000 people are involved in the festival as participants, session audiences, sponsors, volunteers and two full-house Festival Highlights audiences, all descending upon the downtown or church neighbourhoods of Nelson, dining and using hotels for a two week period.
The festival has historically served to bind the region culturally, as Trail and Nelson have alternated and shared this event for so many years.
The participants come from as far afield as Creston, Argenta and Grand Forks with dance participants from Spokane and the Okanagan.
This year, the Dance Highlights Concert takes place April 5 at the Capitol Theatre at 7:30 p.m.
The following week, the Festival Highlights Concert runs April 12 at the Capitol Theatre at 7:30 p.m.
For more information visit kootenayfestivalofthearts.ca.