When Lionel Conant received a phone call from a Smithers reporter about a $10,000 grant from the provincial government, he was at a loss for words.
“I thought to myself ‘what are you talking about?’” said Conant.
The Music on the Mountain (MoM) director and organizer was caught off guard by the question, as the awarding of the grant had been announced via some sources, but MoM had not expected to hear whether they had received the funds or not until August.
The group had applied for the grant with the help of Kirstin Rudolph, the grant writer for the District of Fort St. James, whose work Conant is extremely grateful for.
“I can tell you, it’s been a real struggle, and this is just what we need,” said Conant. “That combined with the support from the District of Fort St. James, Integris, Nak’zdli and other local businesses, that’s what makes it run.”
While Conant wishes the ticket sales were enough to keep the festival in the black, it has not yet managed to break even, with a long list of performers to pay and expensive production and infrastructure to pay for and lower than expected ticket sales.
Last year, the directors had to pay out of their own pockets to cover the losses of the festival.
“This means that we won’t have to do that,” said Conant. “It’s really exciting because the dream is coming true.”
The original aim of the music festival was to help to foster awareness of arts and culture within the community, and he said he now can feel the community turning around.
The dream of expanding the genres of art is coming true as well, with a film festival planned to go on during the festival, drum and other musical workshops, hula hoop workshops and a painting on canvas which will be done throughout the festival by local artist Crystal Charlotte.
There will again be a market of artisans and vendors, the local fire department will be doing a pancake breakfast and Overaitea Foods will be selling burgers to raise money for BC Children’s Hospital.
This year, the festival will be the last one on the “festival circuit,” because the Sweetwater 905 music festival, which used to take place after MoM, has moved to the middle of June and is now referred to as the “firstival.”
This then gave rise to MoM being called the “lastival” for festival goers at this year’s Sweetwater, and Conant said BC Musician’s Magazine has offered to give out a one-year subscription to the first 10 people who can prove they attended both the “firstival” and the “lastival” this year.
When Conant and some of the other directors of MoM attended the Sweetwater 905 festival this month, they also had the chance to meet four or five of this year’s performers for MoM 2012.
“We’re really excited to have an amazing variety this year,” said Conant, listing folk, rock, country, funk, ska and reggae as some on the list for MoM 2012.
For information on this year’s festival go to momfestival.com