Elly on the Arts: Shows, questions and talent abound

It’s getting colder! Fall is closing fast and there has already been some short skiffs of snow but the arts and cultural communities in the Flin Flon/Creighton/Denare Beach area are working hard behind the scenes to bring some top-notch entertainment your way. Our dear friend Keith Reed reminded us all to be grateful for the work that goes into local productions like the recently completed Rocky Horror Picture Show at Johnny’s Social Club. This show was entirely produced in Flin Flon, meaning everything from the musicians and singers, actors, costumes, makeup, sound and lighting and direction of the whole shebang was homegrown. The funds raised will remain in the community as well, to further enhance local capacity to present quality products.

This raises some challenging questions. During Rocky week, we had the opportunity to see a traveling show starring the grandchildren of country and western superstars Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, Tre Twitty and Tayla Lynn. They were a mid-week show booked by their promoters and provided some small income to the City of Flin Flon through the rental of the R.H. Channing Auditorium. There was also the firefighters’ fundraising Halloween social that weekend. This all led to the cancellation of the Flin Flon Arts Council’s sponsored event, a show by Manitoba artists Woody Holler and his Orchestra, due in part to low ticket sales.

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Woody Holler and his Orchestra have been rescheduled to next April, so we will still get the chance to see them, but we have seen them before. Don’t misunderstand – they are really good and absolutely deserve to be seen – however, the arts and cultural communities need to answer some pointed questions.

What is the role of an Arts Council in a community like ours?  It has certainly changed in the past few years, thanks in no small part to incredible work of cultural coordinator Crystal Kolt.  In January 2019, when the Inspiration series brought three women of note to our community, all of them asked if the Flin Flon Arts Council had begun to consider a change in its name.  Particularly, Janice Price, president and CEO of the Banff Center for the Arts, pointed out that FFAC was not only a presenter of arts offerings to the community, but also a producer of programming.

Since then, other producers have stepped up to present things like Rocky and other presenters have come to town with big country and western shows like Twitty and Lynn and George Canyon. Should the Arts Council try to compete? Should they focus on homegrown productions where young producers/directors, technical wizards and performers can hone their skills? We sincerely believe that the arts and cultural community has worked hard to develop an audience in the region, that is likely why out of town promoters are taking notice, but is that audience being pulled in too many directions?

As for the upcoming weekend, members of the Flin Flon Arts Council and your intrepid columnist are headed for Gimli, Man. to attend the Manitoba Arts Network Showcase conference.  During this three day event, we will see 15 acts from across the country who would like to tour Manitoba in 2020-21. We will also see a selection of the visual art exhibitions that will tour the province, including the NorVA Centre. We are particularly looking forward to seeing Old Man Luedeke from Nova Scotia and The Young Novelists from Toronto. My fingers are crossed that they impress the crowd.


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