It's in our culture

My last column talked about Penticton being an Event City and balancing the disruption to our regular routine with the energy, impact, and ethos events bring to our community. Because most people equate events in our community with sports, I wanted to use this column to shine the light on the richness of arts and culture in our community.

This week at the Art Gallery, for example, there is a showing of the Mystical Arts of Tibet featuring the Drepung Loseling Monks.  I encourage you to catch some of the various shows and visit the gallery to view the Mandala sand painting taking shape. I attended the opening ceremony and was captivated by their chanting, rhythm and ancient tradition. The song, dance and prayers from the Monks reminded me of my recent visit to Ikeda Japan (our sister city) where we were overwhelmed at the Ainu first nations cultural center. It is nice to see more involvement of our local first nations at events as they have significant cultural stories, song, dance and traditions to share.

Speaking of Japan, earlier this week I also welcomed 17 visitors from Japan currently being hosted by the local chapter of Friendship Force. Having had the opportunity to visit Japan and experience their culture it was nice to see groups like the Ikeda sister city society and Penticton Friendship Force actively promoting exchanges and being host ambassadors. Both groups have an aging membership and are in need of new energy and members.

Next weekend, from September 21 to 24, we will have our first full scale arts festival This is a significant exhibition of arts and culture. This festival has something for everyone - from a rooftop music festival (Parkadium) to wearable art (Artwear Chrysalis), murals (Reimagine street art), spoken word (Pecha Kucha), improv dinner theatre, jazz and orchestra, photography, dance, painting workshops, and a film festival (Snakebite). It is an explosion of arts and culture over four days where we can celebrate the talent we have in our backyard and build a cultural identity that distinguishes Penticton from other communities.

It is easy to get sticker shock when it comes to artistic and cultural experiences… I’ve been to New York and Las Vegas many times and always balked at the high price of Broadway shows or main stage concerts. An artist’s dream is to perform on Broadway or any big stage in front of thousands of people. My most memorable concert was seeing Dire Straits in 1990 – it was a spontaneous decision made while hearing the concert announcement on the radio. Driving to Vancouver from Kelowna, we missed the opening song so a scalper off loaded front row seats for face value, and we got to witness the true musical talent of the group up close and personal. After all the concerts I’ve seen, it remains one of my best experiences some 27 years later.  Regret can’t replace memorable experiences, so take opportunities as they present themselves because they may not be offered again.

We are fortunate with the events we have come to the SOEC, we have “I love the 90’s” tour this weekend and Foreigner and Jerry Seinfeld coming up. These events should provide some terrific strolls down memories lane.

Arts and Culture can be an opportunity to escape from the hectic chaos that life throws our way; it can also help to inspire, motivate, and provide comfort. There is a certain joy in expressing your creative ambition, and the arts scene isn’t just for the artistic community…it is for all of us. It is about time that there is a rising of the arts – we should embrace it. For many it is an undiscovered experience which will add to our community being vibrant, thriving, and is something to be proud of.