The Point looks back on breakthrough year 

Arts organization holds AGM highlighting growth for the 2017-2018 season

click to enlarge PHOTO BY YULIA GLADYSHEVA - on point The Flag Stop Theatre and Arts Festival was one of the main events that happened at The Point Artist-Run Centre this year.
  • PHOTO by Yulia Gladysheva
  • on point The Flag Stop Theatre and Arts Festival was one of the main events that happened at The Point Artist-Run Centre this year.

The Point Artist-Run Centre has seen gradual growth since its inception nine years ago, but 2018 was a breakthrough year for the non-profit society.

That was the main theme at the organization's 2017-18 annual general meeting last week, says artistic director Stephen Vogler.

"What was exciting to see is now more artists are involved and they're excited about the project of being part of (The Point)," he says. "That makes it take on a life of its own. They want to get things happening ... In terms of a turning point, it did feel like that. We stepped over a hurdle."

One example was the spike in popularity of the weekly summer event Sundays at The Point. It featured musicians performing each Sunday at the Alta Lake venue, while activities like bocce and swimming took place outdoors and an art show was on display inside. The event operated on a drop-in basis with money from a café supporting it.

Sales spiked from $4,346 in 2017 to $6,952 in 2018, according to the Chairman's Report from the AGM. "That surprised me, for sure," Vogler says. "It's not that it's crowded down there, ever. It's just people were coming through and more of them were having lunch."

New collaborations also yielded success this year. The Point began to work with Arts Whistler—particularly with the play All Relative that debuted at The Point's Flag Stop Theatre and Arts Festival and went on for a two-night run at the Maury Young Arts Centre in the fall. "We're really collaborating a lot with Arts Whistler now," Vogler says. "(The Point) is a really good creative incubator. Then if we want to bring (productions) to a larger audience, we can bring them to the theatre at Arts Whistler. In general, (there's) a lot of collaboration and cooperation between the two organizations. That's really nice to see. We have respect now as a valid and viable arts organization in our own right."

The Point also sparked a partnership with Kristen Robinson, who has plenty of experience producing live music events, in the last year. She was instrumental in bringing in high-profile outside acts like Tim Baker from Hey Rosetta! and Juno and Polaris Prize-nominated Zaki Ibrahim (though that concert was cancelled because of illness with plans to reschedule), as well as organizing an upcoming concert with Juno-nominated Ontario songwriter Danny Michel in February as part of the Cypress Point Winter Carnival. "She's been feeding us some bigger names," Vogler adds. "We don't program our whole season a year before, so we can go, 'Oh sure, they're coming through!' She's very connected to all those musicians."

Looking ahead to the 2018-19 season, the organization hopes to secure additional funding—partly through its new grant-writing program, created with funds from a municipal Community Enrichment Program grant, or, ideally, through secure, ongoing government funding.

"It's pretty amazing we generate our $100,000 operating budget through the events we do and the programming, but we really do need some support, some core funding to accommodate growing," Vogler says. "One example of that is the Writers Camp isn't going to happen (next year). It would've been the fifth annual; but (Zsuzsi Gartner) is taking a year off to focus on her writing. But part of that is the finances. We couldn't pay her—and me—fairly for the work that goes into it."

Another lesson Vogler says they're carrying into the New Year is spacing out events more. "For some reason leading into the summer it went from the Writers Camp straight into the (main) fundraiser then it was Sundays at The Point with all this other stuff and children's camps and mentorships," he says. "It all got a bit too crunched together. Even if one of those events were moved, it would help. We'll do our fundraiser earlier in May. We've done it before and it worked well."

For more information on The Point, or to see upcoming events, visit thepointartists.com.

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