The “festival of all things art” in Wells has been canceled for the second consecutive year due to COVID-19.
ArtsWells Festival will be on hiatus for the summer of 2021, said Island Mountain Arts.
“A festival like this takes a lot of time to plan,” said executive artistic director Elyssia Sasaki.
“Given that things were in flux throughout the latter half of last fall and through the winter with lockdowns and not a lot of assuredness of what things were going to look like moving forward, it made it really difficult to plan for our festival this year.”
Hundreds of artists and musicians are normally showcased over four days working in an array of art forms at venues in Wells and Barkerville Historic Town.
Last year’s 17th annual ArtsWells Festival was held virtually in Quesnel—one day in July and one day in August.
This year Sasaki said their organization would be taking time away from the festival to restructure and rebuild for a gathering in summer 2022.
“I think that whatever we do we want to try and find ways to support artists as best we can,” she said. “Whether that’s digital and doing concerts that have a wider audience reach or if it’s to try and do something that’s small and in-person and COIVD friendly with has energy that people can feed off of again I think that kind of experience is equally as valuable right now.”
Island Mountain Arts will be open throughout summer 2021 as it continues to look to ways to gather as restrictions ease.
An upcoming exhibition will feature Métis and Austrian-Russian visual artist Haley Bassett from Dawson Creek, B.C. in her show Lineage.
Flexibility by funders enabled Island Mountain Arts to host a virtual family artist project this past April over its painting residency that would typically take place in Wells during June.
“As we’re looking to the summer, we’re working with our funders who’ve been very flexible throughout this entire pandemic, to figure out what the right fit is for where the community is at and where people’s comfort levels are at for gatherings again,” Sasaki said.
“It’s my hope to see some small events through the summer that are performance or community-related.”