The Lacombe and District Performing Arts Festival, entering into it’s 38th year, received a big boost when the City of Lacombe approved a grant for $10,000, which will allow the majority of the Festival to take place in the Lacombe Memorial Centre.
Previously the Festival had a deal that allowed the City to make use of the Festival’s grand piano at the LMC.
“That was worth around $3,000, which was used for a seven-day use of the County room in the new LMC,” Craig Colegrave, organizer, said. “That was the part grandfathered in as compensation for them using our grand piano.
“We have always had that and that wasn’t in jeopardy whatsoever. We were trying to get another additional $14,000 to use the LMC for the maximum possible competitors that we could.”
Despite not receiving the full requested amount, Colegrave said the $10,000 — $7,000 additional — is a win for Lacombe
“I think it shows the wisdom of the Council to recognize the need for this in Lacombe. I am delighted,” he said.
The extra funds will allow the festival to house roughly 60 per cent of their performances in the LMC, meaning competitors, families and audiences will not have to move around to eight to 10 different venues like they previously had to.
Colegrave, as a parent of a performer, knows what it is like to move around from venue to venue.
”He actually performed in 18 events last year and it is an unbelievable logistic nightmare getting him shuffled from one event to another. It is not only tough for the competitors — it is also really tough for audience members because they have to move half way around town to find avenue.
“If we are in one spot, all of that goes away and the LMC is such a brilliant venue as far as access for grandparents who want to see their grandson or granddaughter perform. It has all the access we need for any persons with disabilities or any persons with movement concerns.”
Additionally, the LMC will allow for 800 performers that the Festival was unable to accommodate due to space issues.
“They are the large ensembles and they need a lot of space, for instance dance requires a dance floor that is 30 feet by 60 feet,” Colegrave said. “Where do you get that in Lacombe? One place — the LMC. Our priority when we pack in as many people as we can will be to get all of those large ensembles entertained first.
“We have never been able to accommodate them, so that is a tremendous win for the arts community and the performing arts community in particular.”
Council did request that organizers consider raising their competitor entrance fees, which start at around $17 per soloist — which is around the industry standard according to Colegrave
“We did actually raise the fees last year by a minor $2 and we saw approximately a 15 per cent decrease in our rate of entry,” he said. “Just because you saw a decrease, you can’t necessarily tie it to $2 fee but it is indicative in a way.
“We are are the limit of the industry standard and there has been many festivals that have tried to increase above that and have failed miserably at it.”
Councillor Jonathan Jacobson suggested that a raise in fees could be done as a one-year pilot project, something Colegrave thought may work considering that performers will now be able to perform in premium venue like the LMC.
”They may be able to tolerate a small increase, but what we don’t want to do is increase fees and have some child who is right on the edge of financially affording this or not, not be able to because we raised it up,” he said
“I think Councillor Jacobson’s recommendation of a trial of it is very worthwhile. We can see what the numbers are and come back.”
He added the fees per performance may seem minor, but additional costs like lessons, instruments, accompanists and other costs add up for families over time.