Vernon’s Polson Park is bustling with creatives of all stripes.
The province chose Vernon to kick off BC Culture Days Friday, Sept. 23. It’s the start of a province-wide celebration of arts and culture which will run for three weeks until Oct. 16.
“In Canada, and here in B.C., Culture Days is an invitation to residents, and everyone who makes our province so dynamic, to celebrate who we are and where we came from,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “We are proud to proclaim BC Culture Days and to support communities with free and affordable events that celebrate our diverse history — together.”
Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu attended the opening ceremony to present a provincial proclamation.
“Culture Days is an important nationwide designation to strengthen and increase awareness, appreciation, participation and engagement in the arts and cultural life of communities,” Sandhu said. “In B.C., we have so much to celebrate. This province’s vibrant culture enriches our lives in countless ways and makes our communities inspiring and dynamic places to live and raise our families. It is through sharing our culture that we grow closer as a community.”
More than a dozen arts and culture organizations were set up in the park holding activities, from face painting to button-making to teaching about all sorts of different arts and crafts.
“I’m super excited because I’m able to bring a lot of young people to this space to listen to music and have a good time and utilize the park, which I feel is under-utilized a lot of the time,” said organizer Noah MacLeod, who runs Local Losers and sits on the board of the local arts council.
Tris White, also an organizer of the event, said it was exciting to see the many booths get set up to host some fun for the whole family.
“I think it’s really exciting to see people celebrating arts and culture, and some of the performers that we’ve got lined up, I’m really excited about what they’re going to do,” White said.
Amanda Shatzko, Regional District of North Okanagan’s Electoral Area C director, was among those in attendance Friday morning. She’s a former ambassador for BC Culture Days.
“I found when I first participated in culture days back in 2015 I was able to meet new patrons, peers and leverage the exposure of Culture Days to catapult my art career. I hope that our local artists can take advantage of this opportunity,” she said.
Shatzko said the regional district has been collecting data for economic development and has found that there are more than 8,000 artists in the Greater Vernon area alone.
“A lot of people don’t realize how much creativity and artists we have here, so bringing something to this region can show the province and also Canada that we’re an important player in the arts and culture world,” she said.