By Chris Marchand
It has been a year of change for the Dryden Entertainment Series (DES) with fresh blood at the helm of the organization.
The group has announced their 2012-13 lineup — a diverse collection of quality Canadian acts featuring everything from country, folk and jazz to theatrical presentations.
While still working to book Blue Rodeo frontman Jim Cuddy (not confirmed) to open the new series in September, the series has confirmed dates with Canadian Country Music Hall Of Famer Michelle Wright (Nov. 2), east coast pop/roots artist Kim Stockwood (Dec. 2), gypsy jazz trio The Lost Fingers (March 20) and folk songwriter Treasa Levasseur (April 17).
Country music acts in the past have been very well attended shows, drawing interest from outside the typical Entertainment Series patron.
Along with the annual offering from The Manitoba Theatre Centre’s travelling production, Ed’s Garage (Jan. 30), Vancouver theatre group Axis Theatre will stage their production ‘The Number 14’ (Jan. 12).
In their 25th season, the group bid farewell to longtime chair Angie Bujold who filled multiple roles, including acting as the public face of the series.
“We’ve divvied up all of Angie’s duties because she did so much,” said newly appointed DES Chair Wendy Wiedenhoeft.
Jeannie McMaster has assumed the role of ‘contractor’ for the entertainment series.
The series has benefitted from funding from the Canada Arts Presentation Fund (CAPF) to the tune of $10,000, a significant part of the Series’ $70,000 annual budget.
Wiedenhoeft says the federal funding, presented by Kenora MP Greg Rickford, April 18, is key in providing a measure of stability to the series at the time of year when the organization is booking acts.
“We always get that money before the next season, so it really helps to stabilize the series,” said Wiedenhoeft. “It‘s very good in helping us line up our series for the next year. We really do feel that it’s important for our series to continue promoting Canadian arts and culture. We can keep our ticket prices at a reasonable rate and continue to bring in a variety of professional Canadian artists.
Over the past four years, Wiedenhoeft adds that the Series has developed a close relationship with local schools, often bringing performers into the classroom setting for performances, workshops in interaction with students.
“We facilitate outreach into the community for at least half of our performances every year,” said Wiedenhoeft. “This past year, Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra and the Manitoba Theatre Centre did workshops in the schools for kids and the high school was involved with the Arrogant Worms. That outreach is something we feel is important. It’s growing our audience for the future, certainly, but it’s also a good education piece for our students who don’t have access to a lot of Canadian professional artists in our community.”
In early June, DES subscribers will receive renewal information and the 2012-13 season will be open to new subscribers in July.