City manager Kevin Cormack does a pretty mean air guitar — and if you come to the upcoming Nelson Street Party at Hall St. plaza on Saturday, you might even get a chance to see him dance.
“We’re a part of this great Air Miles competition and we’re going to be the champs,” said an effusive Cormack, who posed for the Star with Mayor Deb Kozak and members of local bands Red Eyed Soul and Moontricks. The city is a finalist in the Air Miles Detour Program, which celebrates arts-centric towns.
“We’re going to get out there, get people excited and have fun doing it,” Cormack said. “We’re going to reach out to all of Canada.”
The competition in question will take place throughout May. Nelson has been selected as one of five cities nationwide with a vibrant arts scene, and for those 4½ weeks any Air Mile earned by those registered for the competition will be counted as a vote.
And to kick off the campaign? Nelson’s having a street party.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase the Hall St. Plaza and try it out,” said Kozak, who will be there from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. “There’s going to be room to dance, lots of bands, there will be laughter and vendors. It will be our first real test run of that space, and we’re excited to showcase Nelson.”
She believes Nelson stands a chance at winning the competition.
“We’ve always been well known as a music community. Any night of the week you can see live music just about anywhere, whether it’s jazz at the Hume or folk at the Royal or DJs at the Spiritbar or the new Savoy Hotel. These performance venues come alive.”
She said they’ve worked hard to cultivate that reputation.
“We’ve always worked to support all the arts — the visual arts, literary arts, performing arts, all of it. We have the Capitol Theatre, Shambhala Hall … we have the whole package here and people from everywhere can enjoy that.”
The street party is being organized by Marc-Andre Hamelin, who hopes Nelson can rally the support of the whole West Coast during the Air Miles competition. It’s the only town nominated in BC and Alberta.
Cormack noted former Nelsonites are all over the country, and many have gone on to do great things but still hold the town close to their hearts.
“I think that really speaks to the vibrancy of our arts scene and the people we attract here,” he said, noting the Kootenay Festival of the Arts, which runs through Saturday, is a perfect example.
Kozak feels optimistic about the chances of taking the top prize, which is a large concert from an internationally recognized act. (Organizers have been assured it won’t be Nickelback.)
“We’re a pretty cool city,” she said. “And we’re willing to do what it takes.”
The voting period is between May 1 and 30.