Conference connects performers with local presenters
Annual event a chance for Canadian artists to network and book shows
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Manitoba Country Music Awards nominee Nelson Little, 2021 Juno Award winner Sammy Jackson and Winnipeg-based emerging talent Kwiat are just some of the artists performing at the Manitoba Showcase Conference in Portage la Prairie this week.
The multidisciplinary arts conference, which runs to Sunday, features more than 150 delegates from across Canada, including seven promising Manitobans. The event, held in-person for the first time since 2019, provides an opportunity for artists, musicians and singers to showcase in front of local and national presenters and galleries.
Along with discussion topics and workshops, there will be exhibitions from five visual artists, including Pepe Hidalgo and Alison Davis.
“Our conference brings together booking agents and industry experts with a focus on Manitoban presenters and galleries. The conference and showcase offers workshops, live performances, one-on-one meetings and networking opportunities,” says Rose-Anne Harder, the executive director of showcase organizers Manitoba Arts Network (MAN),
“Presenters and art organizations from Manitoba will be booking artists that are from across Canada and the U.S. We also have a handful of artists from Manitoba who are also showcasing,” she continues.
While attendees from the creative industries get a chance to network and book future performances during the conference, the general public are invited to attend the ticketed matinee and evening shows ($25 for one night or $60 for all three shows).
“It’s a really fun night out for people to see a variety show where you get to sample six different artists at a showcase that you might not get a chance to see otherwise,” Harder says.
Jane Ireland, the arts administrator for the Killarney Turtle Mountain Arts Council, is glad the conference is back in-person.
“It is the first one since the pandemic. The last couple have all been online and I am so looking forward to seeing everyone again,” she says
“In 2018 I was hired as the arts administrator at Killarney. I came in with lots of skills but not a lot of connections or knowledge about arts or the arts community in Manitoba. When I found out about Manitoba Arts Network and Showcase, I jumped on it because I knew it would give me that connection. I started presenting performers, which was fabulous because we hadn’t had any music in our community for quite a while.”
For Sarah Hagen, a classical pianist from Prince Edward Island, the showcase is a chance for her to meet presenters and offer the best programs.
“For a performer these showcases are an incredible opportunity to be in front of people live. I love that I get to meet the presenters, which helps me know what the community needs. Also what I really love about Manitoba Showcase and the touring scheme they have set up is that they also do a lot of Concerts in Care.”
Concerts in Care, organized by Health Arts Society, is a program that offers 45-minute concerts for audiences in long-term care homes.
“We’ve done a handful of concerts here and there,” Harder says, “but COVID kind of squashed it. It’s a great program; we’re hoping it will come back eventually. We have been trying over the past two years, delivering a handful of concerts and we’re hoping in the next year or two will kind of resume to its regular full force, which is between 150 to 200 concerts every year.”
AV Kitching is an arts and life writer at the Free Press.