Artists and venues plan for ease of COVID-19 restrictions | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Artists and venues plan for ease of COVID-19 restrictions

FILE PHOTO - Barbara Samuel is the lead singer of Sista B & The Boyz.
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March 07, 2021 - 10:00 AM

COVID-19 restrictions may be putting an end to all social gatherings and events right now, but many performers are staying optimistic by dreaming and planning for future performances.

Kelowna resident Barbara Samuel is one of those artists. She's a minister, lead singer of Sista B & The Boyz, actor and teaches singing.

READ MORE: B.C. residents less likely to follow COVID-19 restrictions than other provinces

With the restrictions in place, Samuel is still teaching socially-distanced vocal lessons but had two performances that were sold out that have been pushed back until 2022 and 2023. Also, she's an actor in Ghost with the Kelowna Actors Studios, and that performance has been rescheduled for October, which is the third time it has been pushed back, she said.

That said, there's still demand. Municipalities have wanted to hire musicians, but can’t do anything until they get the go-ahead from the province, she said.

Concert centres and musicians are tentatively scheduling performances for the near future, but are also aware plans could change at the drop of a hat.

In Lake Country last year, sidewalk concerts were incredibly successful, so Samuel has potential bookings for those concerts as well as potential bookings in the wineries for the upcoming spring, summer and fall, she said.

“We’re ready to go, but we’re professional musicians and we can’t get together to rehearse,” she said. “Thankfully I live with my husband who is a part of my musical team so we’re still making music together and we connect with our band regularly via zoom.”

They share music together online, and critique each other’s old performances to keep their skills sharp, she said.

“It’s really impacted me in terms of creativity and financially, but mentally I’m happy. I’m not happy that we’re in the pandemic and I can’t make music, but this is my life and if I can’t continue to dream and plan in an imaginary way, it would destroy me,” she said.

In a normal year, she would accept notices for performances about a year in advance. With the pandemic, they’re looking two or three years ahead.

“And it’s a hardship on our fans, because we solicit them, we promote it and then... I take the responsibility and I feel like I have to personally call them and say ‘I’m so sorry, this is happening again, but please continue to support us, please be patient, please continue to support us, it will be worth it,” she said.

In Lake Country, Creekside Theatre just got the green light to hold a drive-in comedy show for March 27, but cultural development co-ordinator Ryan Donn said they’re planning multiple different options on how to hold performances this summer.

“People are starting to want to put rental holds, so we almost have to come up with the best-educated guess on where we might be. But then the logistics are we aren’t signing contacts because we can’t actually offer service yet… it’s almost like a hold system right now,” he said.

“There’s no expectation anything will open before Easter, a slight hope that things open up after Easter with some new rules and then building up to hopefully a 50% capacity sometime in the fall, with mostly reopened by 2022, but it’s all guessing,” Donn said.

For the summer, they’re hoping to see sidewalk concerts again, with outdoor free events in August at a larger capacity.

“We’re waiting until almost the end of April to make a call on what we’ll do,” he said.

In the South Okanagan, at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, regional vice president Dean Clarke with Spectra Venue Management, who manages the centre, says this will be the year for Canadian artists.

“Lots of the touring cycles depends on the amount of pressure we feel from the Lower 48 to get their artists moving, but we’ve had some meetings for Canadian artists and agents so I think for 2021 this is going to be an incredible opportunity for people who are Canadian artists,” Charke said.

Roughly 80% of shows come from the U.S., but roughly 90% of shows are currently being planned for Canadian artists in 2021, he said.

“It’s that act that needs to work, we’re not talking the multi-platinum zillionaires that can afford to take a couple of years off… it’s the artists on a general basis that are very hardworking and need to continue to work. Those are the artists that we’re going to focus on at the end of the last quarter of this year,” Clarke said.

The centre operates on an eight-month to a year planning cycle for shows, so sales and marketing employees are working to book performances for October, November and December.

“We need to be as ready as possible when the time comes,” Taylor said.


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