The inaugural edition of the Ignite the Arts Festival helped Penticton become the cultural capital of B.C. for a nine-day stretch this spring.
Over 500 artists from across the province touched down in Peach City from March 25 to April 3, sparking a furious comeback for our local art scene that has been described as “fractured” since the beginning of the pandemic.
“The support that we received was tremendous,” said Penticton Art Gallery curator Paul Crawford who was one of the main organizers. “Most of our events were really well attended, and I’m really thrilled with how the community came together for the first time in a while.”
Preliminary numbers indicate that between $60,000 to $70,000 was pumped back into the Penticton economy as a result of the festival, according to the art gallery’s curator.
“As a gallery, we put well over $60,000 back into our local economy with all the money that people spent at local businesses as a result of being at the festival over the nine days,” Crawford said.
“Our hotel bills alone for the artists were close to $13,000.”
Crawford referenced people — both local residents and tourists — buying items at a downtown book shop or stopping at an independent restaurant during the festivities as examples where the economy got a boost where it otherwise wouldn’t have.
Over 70 performances across six different Penticton venues made up the inaugural edition of the Ignite the Arts Festival. From musical performances to theatrical plays and mural unveilings, the nine-day celebration of arts and culture had a little bit of something for everyone.
“I’d love to put the challenge out to everyone that we can make Penticton not only the cultural capital of the Interior but of British Columbia,” Crawford stated.
“We have the potential to make that happen and there are so many talented people here.”
The festival kicked off at Cannery Brewery for a mural unveiling on March 25 and concluded at Slackwater Brewery for a special after-party gathering on April 3.
Highlights from the nine-day event include an outdoor sculpture contest on April 2 and a performance from the Okanagan Family Band at Cleland Theatre one day earlier.
“The highlight for me is walking into Slackwater at one of our events and seeing all these people that I haven’t seen in a long time and realizing how powerful community is after not having anything going on for over two years.”
Crawford told the Western News he expects to receive total attendance numbers for the nine-day gathering later this week. Prior to the start of the festivities, the art gallery’s curator said he expected over 1,000 people to be involved.
“This event has nothing but potential,” he added reflecting on the conclusion of the festival.
“We were like a springboard for the return of many of this years’ summer events and this could be a great event for the entire city of Penticton for years to come.”