W hen it comes to the arts — whether you’re a musician, visual artist, theatre actor — the prevailing wisdom is bigger is better: higher album or ticket sales, the more prestigious the gallery that hangs your paintings, the larger the stage and more prominent the role.
While that may be the popular conception, there are many who feel differently and are instead comfortable with filling the niche they’ve carved out, no matter how small.
Here at home, the Trail, Tales and Tunes Festival in Norris Point is popular, yes, but organizers say they have no desire to grow the annual event to any great excess.
If you’re Bruce Springsteen or the Rolling Stones, this might seem like a misstep. But for this province and this particular area of it, it’s no mistake.
As festival organizer Shirley Montague told the Rotary Club of Corner Brook recently, don’t expect much of a spectacle for Trails, Tales and Tunes’ 10th anniversary next month, at least not much beyond the normal scope of the event.
“There isn’t really anywhere else to go,” Montague said, referring to the high standards the relatively small festival has maintained since it first began back in 2006.
In this day of mega-concerts and megaevents, smaller festivals like this one fill a necessary role when it comes to our entertainment.
We need only to look at Grand FallsWindsor’s Salmon Festival to see how things can go awry when organizers try to go too big, too quickly.
While attendance figures at a Rod Stewart concert, say, may be in the stratosphere when they take place in a larger centre, there are many who don’t care for those crowds or that kind of music. Those concerts certainly aren’t driving many attendees outside the metropolitan areas to place like Norris Point, nor do they support local artists or the local economies as festivals like Trails, Tales and Tunes can.
And hey — if Stewart or Springsteen want to play Norris Point, the organizers are fine with that, too — they’ll be paid just the same as any of the other talented artists who appear there. Some “big-name” acts have been known to do this in the past, so “small” doesn’t always mean these events can’t go big.
In the end, events of all sizes are necessary to ensure the festival-going public has those options. We just need to sit back and let the organizers do things the way they feel is best.
If that means a small event in a small town, so be it — it’s the quality of the product that will keep people coming back and keep it sustainable, just as Trails, Tales and Tunes has.