The Penticton Art Gallery, led by curator Paul Crawford (middle), is gearing up for the inaugural edition of the Ignite the Arts Festival, set to begin on March 25. (Logan Lockhart, Western News)

The Penticton Art Gallery, led by curator Paul Crawford (middle), is gearing up for the inaugural edition of the Ignite the Arts Festival, set to begin on March 25. (Logan Lockhart, Western News)

‘Opportunity to rebuild the community’: Ignite the Arts Festival ready bring Penticton together

The inaugural edition of the festival will take place from March 25 to April 3

Penticton’s upcoming Ignite the Arts Festival is more than about showcasing local art and culture — it’s about bringing together an entire community.

From March 25 to April 3, a total of 70 performances across six different venues will make up the inaugural edition of the festival.

The nine-day celebration could very well become the Penticton Art Gallery’s new flagship event.

But the gallery’s curator, Paul Crawford, is thinking much bigger than that.

“The hope is that it will be the flagship event for the community,” he told the Western News. “It would be lovely to think the gallery can have a part in that.”

Support from the province, city, regional district and several local sponsors helped the Ignite the Arts Festival become a reality.

READ ALSO: Ignite the Arts Festival gets Penticton council’s blessing and funding

From mural unveilings to musical performances and sculpture contests, the festival is bound to have a little bit of everything. Local breweries, restaurants and city facilities will be involved in promoting or hosting select events.

READ ALSO: ‘Sculpture Day’ contest at Okanagan Lake Park coming to Penticton this spring

Cannery Brewing, for instance, is displaying the mini murals of 10 individual artists to kick off the festival on March 25. The murals will later be auctioned off at the end of the summer.

Including all aspects of art was one of Crawford’s objectives when planning the nine-day extraordinaire — living up to the “Ignite the Arts” name, however, may have been just as important.

“I believe we have this incredible window of opportunity right now to rebuild community and use art as the tool to bring people together,” he said.

Over 1000 people, from artists to volunteers and other community members are expected to be involved in festivities.

A trip to Mexico last Christmas, combined with the constant rhetoric he hears about a “fractured” art scene in Penticton, inspired the idea to create a festival that would “ignite” local enthusiasm into the arts.

“Seeing how much art and culture there was (in Mexico), no matter where you are on the social-economic spectrum, and how much it’s part of life…that’s not something we should take for granted,” he said.

“Art and culture is ever-present and everywhere, and I’d love to see that here.”

The “fractured” art-scene narrative, rooted in a perceived lack of funding, is one Crawford wholeheartedly disagrees with.

But he knows that a successful Ignite the Arts Festival in 2022 can change everything, especially when coming out of a two-year period where the COVID-19 seemingly disrupted all art-scene plans.

Crawford was joined by Julie Fowler and Chelsea Terry, the event’s co-coordinator and communications coordinator, respectively.

Both Fowler and Terry bring years of experience to the gallery’s team, in an effort to help establish the upcoming Ignite the Arts Festival as a Penticton-staple.

While people can still purchase tickets to the nine-day festival, several of the scheduled events are free, including a showcase of Indigenous music and culture at the Cleland Theatre on March 27.

To view all of the festival’s events, set to end on April 3, people are asked to visit

Artists and volunteers are encouraged to get involved by visiting

READ MORE: Penticton Art Gallery on the hunt for volunteers for Ignite the Arts Festival


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