South­west res­i­dent short-listed for provin­cial arts award

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Swift Current - BY MATTHEW LIEBEN­BERG— mlieben­berg@prairiepost.com

Shann Gowan of Swift Cur­rent is a short-listed nom­i­nee for the 2018 Saskatchewan Arts Awards.

She has been nom­i­nated in the cat­e­gory for in­di­vid­ual lead­er­ship in recog­ni­tion of her tire­less ef­forts over many years to pro­mote cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties in in the Swift Cur­rent area.

The 2018 Saskatchewan Arts Awards win­ners were to be an­nounced dur­ing an awards pre­sen­ta­tion at Casino Regina which was tak­ing place Oct. 25.

Last year she re­tired from her role as Cul­tural Fes­ti­vals ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, but af­ter 15 years her name has be­come syn­ony­mous with the Blenders con­cert se­ries and StirCrazy Blues fes­ti­val as well as the Wind­scape Kite Fes­ti­val and Long Day’s Night mu­sic fes­ti­val.

“I was re­ally hon­oured,” she said about the nom­i­na­tion. “It's a pretty pres­ti­gious award with the Saskatchewan Arts Board, and the Arts Board is an or­ga­ni­za­tion that I strongly be­lieve in. So I was re­ally thrilled.”

The Saskatchewan Arts Board estab­lished these awards in 2016 to cel­e­brate the achieve­ments of in­di­vid­u­als, groups and or­ga­ni­za­tions in all arts dis­ci­plines. There are six award cat­e­gories and each win­ner re­ceives an award sculp­ture and a cash prize.

The award cat­e­gory for in­di­vid­ual lead­er­ship, in which Gowan is a fi­nal­ist, aims to rec­og­nize and cel­e­brate an in­di­vid­ual who demon­strates lead­er­ship and com­mit­ment to the ad­vance­ment of the arts and artists in the prov­ince.

She noted that the Saskatchewan Arts Board is cel­e­brat­ing its 70th an­niver­sary in 2018. It is the long­est run­ning pub­lic arts fun­der in North Amer­ica and the sec­ond old­est in the world. Over the years she has be­come very fa­mil­iar with the ef­forts of this or­ga­ni­za­tion to sup­port the arts in Saskatchewan through grants and other pro­grams.

“Arts or­ga­ni­za­tions can go out and get all the spon­sor­ship and all the stuff to run events, but no one helps to pay the per­son who does it, no one helps pay those core costs ex­cept peo­ple like the Arts Board,” she said. “So it's an or­ga­ni­za­tion I feel re­ally strongly about. It helps mu­si­cians and artists get their foot up so they can present them­selves as pro­fes­sion­ally as pos­si­ble and I think it's a fan­tas­tic or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Arts Board fund­ing has helped Gowan to carry out her work when she was the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Cul­tural Fes­ti­vals in Swift Cur­rent.

Spon­sor­ship funds for arts and cul­tural events do not al­ways ac­com­mo­date re­mu­ner­a­tion costs for those who are do­ing the work to cre­ate those ac­tiv­i­ties.

“That's the hard part, be­cause its re­ally easy to sell spon­sor­ship for a con­cert or a spe­cial event, but it takes a whole bunch more above that to ac­tu­ally pay some­one to do all the work to put them on,” she said. “So that's where the Arts Board and some of those fund­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions step in and they're paid for by our tax dol­lars, but they also ben­e­fit ev­ery­body. If we didn't have con­certs in Swift Cur­rent, it would be a much sad­der place to live.”

She be­lieves cul­ture must not be seen as a lux­ury, but as an es­sen­tial and nec­es­sary part of ev­ery per­son's ex­is­tence.

“I think it's a core part of who we all are,” she said.

“We have a huge amaz­ing mu­sic in­dus­try in Canada that needs to be shown to peo­ple. It's not just what's on the ra­dio. There are lots and lots out there and when you can have a vi­brant cul­tural com­mu­nity in your city, it at­tracts peo­ple to come, it at­tracts busi­ness, it keeps peo­ple here, it keeps peo­ple happy. It's one of the most im­por­tant things that you can do to en­rich the life of peo­ple in your com­mu­nity and fam­ily fes­ti­vals like Wind­scape are the other kind of thing that make for healthy com­mu­ni­ties.”

It was her own de­sire to lis­ten to new and dif­fer­ent mu­sic in Swift Cur­rent that even­tu­ally evolved into the Blenders con­cert se­ries. She asked Kim Hough­tal­ing, the cu­ra­tor and di­rec­tor of the Art Gallery of Swift Cur­rent, if she could or­ga­nize a blues con­cert at the gallery.

“I just wanted to have mu­sic that I had trav­elled to go see,” Gowan said. “I was go­ing out­side of town all the time and I knew there were other peo­ple that care about that as well. So we just gave it a try and it was re­ally suc­cess­ful. I gave an­other one a try and then that sum­mer we put on a five-day mu­sic fes­ti­val and it went over re­ally good. It just kind of build it­self or­gan­i­cally.”

Since her re­tire­ment she has re­mained in­volved with the or­ga­ni­za­tion that she guided for so many years. She serves as a Cul­tural Fes­ti­vals board mem­ber, and she has shared her knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence with the new ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Sheri Flori­zone.

Gowan still co­or­di­nated the ar­range­ments for this year's Wind­scape Kite Fes­ti­val, be­cause it can be a daunt­ing task for some­one who has never done that be­fore.

“So this year was my last year,” she said. “I was on site the whole week. I was di­rect­ing the traf­fic and got it all in place and got it up and run­ning Sat­ur­day morn­ing and then I backed away.”

Gowan is one of the few short-listed nom­i­nees for the 2018 Saskatchewan Arts Awards who are not from Regina or Saska­toon. An­other name on the list that will be fa­mil­iar to south­west Saskatchewan res­i­dents is Joseph Nay­towhow of Saska­toon. He fre­quently vis­its the south­west to par­tic­i­pate in cul­tural and ed­u­ca­tional events. He has been short-listed for the arts and learn­ing award.

(Due to press time, no re­sults were know at time of print­ing but an up­dated story will be on the web­site: www.prairiepost.com)

SHANN GOWAN

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