Fenelon Falls Live! Planning Workshop Brimming with Energy (Oct. 2017)

by Alan Engelstad, Chair. Fenelon Falls Live!   705-887-7169

Fenelon Live LogoTwenty-one arts enthusiasts attended the Fenelon Falls Live! planning workshop last Saturday at Fenelon Falls United Church to answer the question: What kind of live performance events are you eager to bring to the Fenelon Falls area? Participants included local performers, a young theatre arts entrepreneur, events organizer, arts promoter, seasonal and full-time residents, local councillor Doug Elmslie and Debra Soule, Arts, Culture and Heritage Coordinator at the City of Kawartha Lakes.

The format was designed to ensure participants created the agenda themselves, according to their specific interests, by offering up their ideas for consideration. Once the ideas were presented, people signed up for those that most interested them and joined those discussions. Workshops included mounting events featuring big band orchestras, marching bands, a variety show, Celtic music, an emerging artists series, songwriters workshop, Shakespeare in the Park, a buskers festival and twice-annual family festival to celebrate the the locks. Of course, many of these ideas work together and there is plenty of room for collaboration.

There were also discussions about the need for supportive arts infrastructure, such as a portable sound stage, a more dedicated year-round performance venue, and a permanent outdoor performance venue. We also discussed some practical, collaborative ways to publicize events, especially to seasonal residents, more effectively.

Participants learned how an active arts scene helps create a thriving community. For example, one participant explained how a town in Florida, competing with places that had nicer beaches, decided to become a haven for musicians. People got behind a series of proposals to enhance music education and performance 30 years ago. That town has since quadrupled in size and is a magnet for musicians of all stripes. Another participant brought an article explaining how the arts are revitalizing small towns in Minnesota, and Doug Elmslie brought featured article in this month’s Municipal World that discussed the role of the performing arts in creating a sense of belonging. From this we considered how we could help a younger generation of aspiring musicians learn such things as performance technique, sound design and recording skills from the many experienced musicians in the area, some with long and storied careers: Garage Band festival, anyone?

Our challenge, as one participant put it, is to get to a place where visitors and townspeople alike can simply assume something interesting and engaging is happening every weekend in Fenelon Falls, especially during the summer. They’ve done it elsewhere. Why not here?

Want to learn more? Contact us at fenelonlive@gmail.com

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