Clear your Saturday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., starting July 6 and running through to Aug. 31, as Summer Nights organizers will once again be bringing in a wealth of talent for residents and tourists to enjoy. As with last year, all of these events will be taking place at the band shelter in Central Park.
At their first meeting of the season on April 24, the majority of a core group of not-for-profit associations including Mike Bishop from the Cowichan Valley Community Radio Society, and Betty Sanddar and Cindy Vaast from the Cowichan Lake Food Bank, along with local citizens, came together to discuss whether or not to hold the event this year, and launch into planning mode.
Those in attendance first reviewed the purpose of Summer Nights and why they would like to keep the event going.
“We had three goals,” says Elvin Hedden. “One was to provide a venue for students and other local entertainers to get up and get on the stage. Two, it was to bring people in from other communities, plus our own communities (Mesachie Lake, Honeymoon Bay and Youbou) as a form of entertainment [and] get people coming into town. And number three was as a fundraiser for the not-for-profits.”
The group recognized that there were a couple of issues from last year that still have to be resolved, such as the excessive heat on the stage from the angle of the sun in the evening hours, and the need to ensure that the bathrooms are clean and operational. Both of these items will be brought to the town’s attention by Bishop.
Event organizers are looking to generate more funding this year in order to help reimburse musicians and acts that they would like to headline each weekend. Last year, though performers were happy to participate, they did express that it would be nice to be compensated for travel and other costs incurred by making the trip to Lake Cowichan.
“That’s the concern that did come through from a lot of them,” says Hedden. “They donated a lot of their time, and there were some that we thought we could get but they said they couldn’t because of the cost. They wanted some kind of remuneration to pay for [gas] and that sort of thing.”
To this end the group is exploring the option of inviting donations from corporate or business sponsors. These sponsors would be featured for one of the nine Saturdays and could have the option of setting up a booth to promote themselves and sell product, the proceeds of which would go to the not-for-profit host of the evening.
The other thing the group wants to look into is providing bus transportation to event goers at the end of the evening. Bishop says that he will be exploring options including contacting the community bus and the CVRD.
In other ways the format of the events will stay the same. A not-for-profit, such as the Food Bank, will be in charge of hosting a chosen Saturday and they will be seeking donations from audience members. There will also be children’s activities provided, although the details of this still have to be secured. Local youth and other performers will still have a chance to take advantage of the open stage at the beginning of the evening.
For now, Elvin Hedden and Toni Robertson are busy securing musicians and acts for this year, and are confident that they will be able to once again provide a fantastic line-up for the season.
The next Summer Nights meeting will take place on May 2, at which time it is hoped that the other not-for-profits who would like to take part in this summer-long event will be able to have their input and engage in the organization and planning process. For more information, contact Bishop at firstname.lastname@example.org.