The free music show planned for tonight (Thursday, August 25) at Lake Cowichan’s Central Park has been cancelled.
The cancellation comes in response from local community radio station CICV 98.7-FM pulling its sponsorship of the event.
“I just got a letter last night,” key organizer David Lowther said, Thursday morning. “Without such a sponsorship, it is impossible for the program to continue.”
The free music show was to be part of the monthly Music in the Lake series of concerts that has been gracing Lake Cowichan’s Upper Centennial Hall for over a year. In July, a special well-attended outdoor show was held at Lake Cowichan’s Central Park; the same thing planned for what was to be tonight’s show, when local musician Beverly McKeen and out-of-town group The Pelta Tiller Duo, were set to perform.
Cowichan Valley Community Radio Society chair Mike Bishop said that the decision to discontinue the sponsorship came as a result of a realization that the show had become outside their scope as a community radio station.
“It was a nice show, but it was outside the scope of our radio mandate,” he said. The concern was that the shows weren’t as local in scope as they could have been, with most months seeing the hiring of professional singers from outside the Cowichan Lake area.
The cancellation of this month’s event was the decision of Lowther, Bishop said, adding that radio volunteers were prepared to help with tonight’s event.
“How much support can I expect from them?” Lowther asked. Walking such a fine line between breaking even and losing lots of his own money, Lowther said that it’s too much of a risk without the station’s full support.
Last month’s event, as an example, took in $530. Of this money, $400 total went to the two features, and $150 went toward sound, leaving a loose end of $20 filled in with contingency funds; And this was with full support.
“It’s worth it for the evening’s entertainment,” Lowther said, adding that the potential is out there to be out a few hundred dollars.
Without the radio station’s support, the event doesn’t have the insurance it requires.
“The point of it was to provide locally-made programming for a local radio station, and if the local radio station doesn’t want it, what does that mean?” Lowther asked.
CICV has been recording and broadcasting Music in the Lake over the airwaves on Wednesdays at 4 p.m., and Sundays at 10 a.m.
With regard to the shows not being “local” enough, Lowther points out Beverly McKeen, who was to headline tonight’s show.
“I booked her in the line at the Country Grocer. You don’t get more local than that!” Lowther said.
Every show also opens up with an hour’s worth of open stage, during which time anyone local interested in performing is invited to do so.
Looking back on the past year’s worth of shows, Lowther said that it’s been a worthwhile endeavour, with some truly interesting acts coming to town.
“We had a lot of fun, and hosted a lot of great acts in town,” he said, of the Thursday night events. “It is awfully boring here on Thursdays.”
Overall, it’s been a break-even endeavour, thanks to a number of enthusiastic locals, including the ladies at Curves, who donated baked goodies, which helped pay for Lower Centennial Hall’s rent every month.
Local musician Mary Egan also helped out.
“When Mary Egan played, she refused to take the money, which gave us some contingency,” Lowther said.
This contingency proved useful when trying to break even during slower nights.
Musician Graeme Card, from The Jug Bandits, also opted out of getting paid, accepting only gas money for his performance.
Although Music in the Lake has been squashed by CICV’s pulling of its support, Lowther said that his hopes for local music shows haven’t been killed.
“I hope to do it again,” he said. But, they’d require a group to sponsor the show, so they can benefit from the group’s insurance that they require to put on shows in town.
“Unsupported, we can’t afford to do this,” Lowther said.
Over at CICV, Bishop said that the radio station is also planning events for the future.
“We’re in discussions with these type of things,” he said. “We have some irons in the fire, with a focus on more local talent.”