Read­ers vote Macca top en­ter­tain­ment story

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Jen Zo­ratti

ON Aug. 12, Sir Paul McCart­ney dropped by Win­nipeg’s shiny new In­vestors Group Field and per­formed nearly three hours’ worth of hits, cov­er­ing his sin­gu­lar ca­reer, to 31,200 ador­ing fans. To say it was one of the year’s most an­tic­i­pated con­certs would be an un­der­state­ment; this is a man many Win­nipeg­gers had not seen per­form live in 20 years, and many oth­ers had never seen be­fore. The au­di­ence spanned gen­er­a­tions, but ev­ery­one in it, young and old, sang along. Af­ter all, the man — nay, the Bea­tle — they’d come to see is re­spon­si­ble for some of pop mu­sic’s most en­dur­ing songs. Tick­ets didn’t come cheap, top­ping out at $275, but Macca’s five-star show de­liv­ered in both breadth and qual­ity; there’s good rea­son he was re­cently ranked No. 15 on Rolling Stone’s 50 great­est live acts right now. At 71, Sir Paul is a mere mor­tal, but his mu­sic will live on for­ever. And that’s why his per­for­mance at In­vestors Group Field is the En­ter­tain­ment Story of the Year, as voted by Free Press read­ers. McCart­ney was the sec­ond act to play Win­nipeg’s new­est and largest con­cert venue, af­ter Tay­lor Swift in June. With room for 33,000 fans, In­vestors Group Field has the ca­chet to bring big­name acts to our mid-sized mar­ket. “It plays a huge role,” Kevin Don­nelly, vi­cepres­i­dent of True North Sports & En­ter­tain­ment told the Free Press last De­cem­ber. “In a lot of cases, it’s the de­cid­ing fac­tor. (Acts) will change rout­ing to ac­com­mo­date a new build­ing, where in other in­stances they may not even look at a mar­ket of that size.” Don­nelly was one of the 31,200 who saw In­vestors Group Field make good on that prom­ise.

“It was thrilling, for sure,” he re­calls. “That’s a show we’d pur­sued for many years, to be frank. To see it hap­pen on a beau­ti­ful sum­mer night in a beau­ti­ful new sta­dium was a real thrill.” For many years, our geo­graph­i­cally iso­lated town was skipped over on ma­jor North Amer­i­can tours. That be­gan to change with the ar­rival of the MTS Cen­tre, and will con­tinue with the new sta­dium. “It’s been ex­cit­ing, for sure,” Don­nelly says. “It’s a lot of work by a lot of peo­ple to change it over, night to night, but it’s been ex­cit­ing to see how the mar­ket has re­sponded.” The con­cert cal­en­dar for 2014 is al­ready fill­ing up, with acts such as Ar­cade Fire, Cher and Lady Gaga slated to play the MTS Cen­tre. And Don­nelly says Win­nipeg­gers can also look for­ward to more ex­cit­ing sta­dium shows. “You al­ways try to sell what you’ve ac­com­plished as a frame­work for what the next act could achieve,” he says. “A new sta­dium still holds a lot of wa­ter.” From one master to 100 mas­ters, the run­ner-up for En­ter­tain­ment Story of the Year was a big deal, too. The Win­nipeg Art Gallery’s 100 Mas­ters: Only in Canada — a blockbuster ex­hi­bi­tion that fea­tured 100 works by canon­i­cal artists such as Matisse, Monet, Van Gogh, Pi­casso and Warhol, and spanned six cen­turies — was not only the gallery’s most am­bi­tious show but also its most suc­cess­ful, smash­ing at­ten­dance records. “We had well over 60,000 peo­ple that en­gaged from ev­ery cor­ner of our city,” says WAG di­rec­tor and CEO Stephen Bo­rys — enough, he good­na­turedly points out, to fill the sta­dium twice. It’s a classic “If you build it, they will come” tale. Bo­rys knew the WAG could do some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary for its cen­ten­nial as long as it had a lit­tle help from its friends. All but 10 works fea­tured in 100 Mas­ters were loaned from 28 mu­se­ums in Canada and two in the United States. “(The ex­hi­bi­tion) couldn’t have hap­pened with­out our sis­ter or­ga­ni­za­tions,” Bo­rys says. “In­sti­tu­tions bent over back­wards for us, lend­ing things they don’t or­di­nar­ily lend out. It was a party for the WAG, but ev­ery­one was cel­e­brat­ing with us. The gen­eros­ity was out­stand­ing.” In ad­di­tion to earn­ing the WAG 2,000 new mem­bers, 100 Mas­ters put the gallery in the black, con­tribut­ing to a $162,419 sur­plus for the 2012-13 fis­cal year. “It was a fi­nan­cial suc­cess we don’t take for granted,” Bo­rys says. The new year will bring new mar­quee ex­hibits to the gallery, such as the just-opened Look­ing Up, which runs un­til March 16. That show ex­plores the in­flu­ence that the WAG’s Inuit art col­lec­tion has had on the city’s art com­mu­nity over the past four decades. Another big-ticket ex­hi­bi­tion is 7: Pro­fes­sional Na­tive In­dian Artists Inc. — a cel­e­bra­tion of Canada’s ground­break­ing Group of Seven — which will run May 10 to Aug. 31. “We also have some big, big plans for 2015 that I can’t di­vulge just yet,” Bo­rys hints. “But it’ll be a his­toric year for the WAG and Win­nipeg.”

JOHN WOODS / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Top left, record crowds vis­ited the WAG to see works by 100 mas­ters, in­clud­ing Haida artist Robert David­son; above, Paul is very much alive and daz­zled the au­di­ence in Win­nipeg on Aug. 12, 2013.

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