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HOMETOWN HEROES: Quesnel’s Vicky Predan

Quesnel Festival of Performing Arts led through COVID fire by cool Predan

Vicky Predan has managed to avoid most of the spotlight, but she is an expert at shining it on Quesnel youth. She got caught in a little bit of it, recently, when she was named the winner of the Distinguished Service Award bestowed by Performing Arts BC. Not only is this award for the entire province, but it is also exclusive. There were five times since 2011 that no one was deemed a winner.

“The nominees must have displayed outstanding abilities and dedication to the performing arts festival movement in British Columbia, either at the local or at the provincial level,” said the organization. Executive director Antonia Mahon told The Observer that the current Quesnel Festival of the Performing Arts (QFPA) board nominated her, but even she in a faraway office already knew of Predan’s efforts.

“Vicky and I had a lot of phone calls over two years as she worked incredibly hard to get the Quesnel festival back on an even keel. She always had a list of extremely pertinent questions and it was a pleasure to talk to someone so organized and passionate,” Mahon said.

According to local board members, Predan started her volunteerism with the QFPA in 2008 as a parent helping out with the dance category. That is how many future board members and key organizers begin, and it is encouraged for the 2024 collection of families, no matter which discipline your child might be involved.

Predan took on increasing amounts of QFPA work as she got to know the many facets of the large event, with its menu of sub-events made up of dance, acting, singing and musical instrument components. Record numbers of kids were signing up for these showcase competitions. But then COVID lockdowns stopped the entire train on its tracks.

“Vicky found herself in the position of desperately trying to keep the society afloat,” said the current QFPA board, led by new president Delaine Milette. “It was at this point that Vicky’s unrelenting drive and willingness to go above and beyond manifested itself. She became that necessary cog in the wheel that kept the organization moving forward for the sake of the youth in the community.”

Even with the pandemic, the QFPA was able to pull off a rare feat in that uncertain time: a festival with live local performances and virtual out of town performances, “one of the few organizations to do this during the pandemic,” said Milette. “As a fellow volunteer expressed, ‘It would not have happened without her.’”

“The only thing I am guilty of is surrounding myself with a group of lovely, motivated and like-minded humans who had a vision,” said Predan of all the unaccustomed attention. “This honour is undeniably shared.”

Only part of that is true, explained Milette. She has a talent for acquiring other volunteer talent, but during the COVID-affected years, there was only a handful of them who stayed on. The entire month-long extravaganza was in danger of full closure, perhaps forever. But this year, the Vocal-Choral component runs March 14-16 to kick things off, followed by the Dance component March 25-27, the Piano and the Speech Arts festivals operating concurrently April 10-13, there are still hopes that the Band and/or Instrumental festivals can reignite this year after their pandemic hiatus (this is the first year back up and running for two of the performance categories, so the comeback is evident). It ends with an all-star showcase called Celebration Of The Stars on May 25. The adjudicators’ choices - the best of the best - also move on to the Performing Arts BC provincial championships this year in Fort St. John from June 2-6.

Predan is currently the local representative to that provincial organization, but it is the only position she holds this year with the QFPA. She steered the ship through the storms of COVID, the economic crunch and demographic shift that followed, and the festival not only survived but is once again thriving. It was at that point that she stepped down to recharge her batteries and let others, a new wave of volunteer, step into the many organizational roles she and a stalwart few held down themselves.

“She set up mentors for the board members before they were even elected, and helped set a standard for professionalism, and increased connection within the organization and with the community,” said the new board. “Through her patient mentorship, she inspired new volunteers to become builders within the organization. She spent hundreds of hours trying to ensure our community had a festival for youth.”

According to today’s board - all while keeping the performance components alive or on functional pause - Predan also oversaw bylaw reform, communications efficiencies, created clear job descriptions for new board members, established a mentoring system for board members and other key volunteers, and most of all led the highly successful fundraising efforts to keep the festival’s finances buoyant after the COVID crisis.

“It’s amazing what she was able to accomplish. We are exceptionally proud of her, and we want people to know that we have a very high-caliber festival due to her hard work.”

It is an organization any new volunteer would want to join, Milette said, and one any sponsor would feel comfortable investing in as a community partner. Anyone interested in contributing personal time, financial sponsorships, or other in-kind donations can click into those tabs on the festival website: qfpa.org. CLICK RIGHT HERE to go there directly

READ MORE: Speaking of performing arts in Quesnel

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Frank Peebles

About the Author: Frank Peebles

I started my career with Black Press Media fresh out of BCIT in 1994, as part of the startup of the Prince George Free Press, then editor of the Lakes District News.
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