Great shows, small audience 

Performance series likely to return despite low attendance

The four-show Festival Vancouver performance series at Whistler drew a "small but passionate crowd," according to Dennis Marriott, general manager of MY Millennium Place.

The performance series, which consisted of four acts also playing at Festival Vancouver, occurred over two weekends in Whistler. The last show wrapped up Saturday, Aug. 13 and featured high-energy Montreal percussion group Rythmo-Synchro.

The first three shows of Australian vocal ensemble Coco’s Lunch, British jazz pianist Joanna MacGregor, and world beat musicians JouTou, played Aug. 5-7. The first three shows coincided with the Crankworx Festival, a fact, Marriott said, that was not a factor in the low attendance numbers of the series.

"I’d think there would be some crossover in audiences but not a lot. We weren’t expecting to pack the house given the weather conditions. I think it is always going to be difficult to bring people inside the theatre when it’s 25 (degrees) and clear skies."

However, Marriott did admit that turnout was "slightly less than expected."

Morna Edmundson, administrative director of the Vancouver Summer Festival Society which sponsors Festival Vancouver, agreed. "I don’t think we got the attendance we’d hope we’d get."

However, Edmundson went on to say she thought it went well.

"I heard the concerts themselves were really well received and those that were there loved them."

Marriott said he also thought the shows went off well. "They were excellent as far as quality of entertainment and also demonstrating the value of partnerships that the Arts Council and Millennium Place (and Tourism Whistler) can build with Festival Vancouver to bring much higher calibre entertainment to Whistler. We certainly didn’t pack the house but everyone that was there seemed to leave with rave reviews.

"I would say the best attendance would be for the first two (shows), Coco’s Lunch and Joanna MacGregor," Marriott added. "Joanne MacGregor was probably the highlight of the series."

And the series will likely be back next year.

"At this point, I imagine that we would have another partnership with (Festival Vancouver) next year and do a similar event," said Marriott.

Marriott mentioned possible adjustments for next year could include an outdoor program to increase interest in evening performances.

"Every year we stop and look at how we might adjust things to make them better so we will obviously be doing that (for the performance series). But we’d like to be working with those partners again."

To bring the performance series to Whistler, Festival Vancouver and its Whistler partners the Arts Council, Millennium Place, and Tourism Whistler received a grant of $12,000 from the provincial Olympic arts legacy initiative ArtsNow. It allowed for the sharing of acts from the annual Festival Vancouver music festival.

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