Nanaimo and Gabriola can share the love

Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Sounder Staff

Tuesday, August 13 2013

You can’t shake a stick in the month of August on Gabriola without hitting someone partaking in a festival or event. Next up is the Theatre Festival, sure to attract many Gabriolans as well as off-island visitors.

Too bad it is having to compete with another theatre festival happening a short ferry ride away. 

The Nanaimo Fringetastic Theatre Festival, now in its third year, runs Aug. 13-25 and the Gabriola Theatre Festival, celebrating its fifth year, runs smack dab in the middle, Aug. 16-18.

Not that many years ago there was not a whiff of a theatre festival in the region. Now there’s two for theatre lovers to feast their senses on, except now theatre patrons have to choose which one to support. Oh the (dramatic) irony.

These competing schedules are not fair to the artists or the festivals’ respective organizers and nobody benefits.

Moreover, from the perspective of an outsider looking in, these scheduling conflicts suggest an unsupportive relationship - not exactly a good image to be projecting to the community at large.

This apparent lack of support isn’t new, nor is it exclusive to the arts community. 

Tourism Nanaimo’s strategic plan notes a “weak relationship between tourism stakeholders in Nanaimo and on Gabriola.” 

That’s unfortunate because festivals and events in the Harbour City and on the Isle of the Arts don’t need to be in direct competition with each other. 

There are enough patrons to go around so both communities can feel the love and cash injection.