What do you get when you combine fine arts teachers from three schools, dedicated community members and over 1000 students? You get the first-ever Strathmore Performing Arts Festival!
In June 2018, a group of Strathmore school music teachers, private music teachers, high school students and community members gathered to form the board for the Strathmore Performing Arts Festival Association (SPAFA), a non-profit society with the goal of organizing a full-scale performing arts festival in Strathmore. What better way to provide an authentic audience to fine arts students and create connections between school and community?
The board immediately put plans in place and the festival gained momentum, with dates for the inaugural festival set for March 29th-April 9th, 2019. Contributions from the community were key to the success of the event. Over $20,000 was donated from the Town of Strathmore, local Strathmore businesses and individuals to support the undertaking of the event. The local radio station and newspaper generated publicity and locations to hold all of the various events were arranged. Strathmore High School was set to host musical theatre and band events, École Brentwood Elementary School would play host to all the choral groups, Strathmore United Church hosted piano and vocal classes and Strathmore Alliance Church was on board to hold the final concert.
“The inaugural Strathmore Performing Arts Festival Board was a working group in every sense of the word. The board exhibited unbelievable commitment, passion, joy and perseverance as we worked toward our common goal. The week of the festival was so incredible for each and every one of us as we saw our hopes and dreams come to life. The joy and pride of the participants and their families after their performances was such a thrill. We had indeed created something very special for Strathmore and area.”Carolyn Steeves (President, SPAFA)
The goal of the festival was to provide a place for the participants to perform with their peers as individuals, groups or as part of their school. Adjudicators evaluated and provided feedback to encourage the growth and development of performers, novice and experienced alike. By the time the festival kicked off, there were 215 entries involving over 1000 performers from Strathmore, Cochrane, Okotoks, Chestermere and Drumheller. With thanks to community support, over $4000 in scholarship money was awarded throughout the event.
“The audience was at each event to watch all the participants and not just their child, which made you feel special and more supported. Everyone was interested and inspired. It was fun and we would definitely participate again next year.”Andraya, Julia, Lily and Reese (École Brentwood Elementary School, Grade 5)
The association now has their sights set on the future. The completion of the successful festival this spring grants the association permission into the Alberta Musical Festival Association. The hope is to host an even larger event next year that reaches out-of-district participants, in addition to more Golden Hills schools and students, and strengthens the connections with the community.