For Master Rhythm Circle Facilitator and percussionist Bobby Bovenzi, being a BC Culture Days ambassador extends beyond Culture Days. The opportunity has allowed him to establish himself as a leader of his community, advocating for increased participation in collaborative arts and culture activities. Through the many connections made by Bobby and team, Summerland celebrated Culture Days like never before. Read more below...
Words: Bobby Bovenzi
As a new resident of Summerland B.C., I was inspired to work diligently to unite the town by celebrating the arts, culture, spirit and heritage of this vibrant community. During my role as BC Culture Days ambassador, the many hours I allocated towards creating the programming for Culture Days in Summerland allowed me to develop lasting partnerships with the District of Summerland, the Arts Council and a variety of other organizations. We worked towards the common goal of immersing our community in the arts and used Culture Days as a means to celebrate this worthy cause.
The first connection I made through the planning process was with the Summerland Community Arts Centre. Vice-President Betty-Ann Xenis and Director Jean Evanishen volunteered many hours to provide art-based activities during Culture Days. Eager to collaborate, we immediately began networking with local businesses to bolster registrations. Their help and support has been key in my growth as an ambassador and their assistance in creating an overall project vision for what the weekend might look like was indispensable.
During the initial planning at the Arts Centre, Betty-Ann offered to host a behind-the-scenes activity that involved a local theatre company she belonged to called 'Singers and Players'. From this idea, I decided to use Summerland Secondary School's Centre Stage Theatre as a hub for the many stage related activities that were planned for Culture Days. Some of the festivities would include a West African Drum & Dance activity and workshops by local dance organizations: School of Dance and Pow Wow Dance.
After our first meeting, I contacted a local business called Beadtrails and asked if they wanted to host a hands-on activity in their store. They understood the importance of nurturing personal relationships to grow their business and offered to host a bracelet making workshop. Betty-Ann, Jean and I felt as though their contribution, in addition to the activities taking place at the Arts Centre, would satisfy the arts component of the weekend.
Next, I met with the library and museum to let them know about the growing list of interested activity organizers. The Library was already planning a pie contest and, after our discussion, decided to include a story-time reading activity to their pre-existing event. I offered to provide drumming accompaniment as a fun way to integrate music into storytelling. The Museum was on the fence about offering an event before we met, but after I outlined the plan we developed at the arts meeting, they wanted to get involved in the weekend's festivities. They ended up hosting self-guided heritage tours of Summerland, showcasing the important history of the community.
A few months before being selected as ambassador, I met with a local musician who was interested in forming a musicians’ guild, or something similar, to begin the process of integrating more music into the Arts Centre. Now acting as a BC Culture Days ambassador, I felt it was the opportune time to organize a music jam and group discussion about music and the community. I contacted The Philosophers’ Café who agreed to book a group of speakers and host a roundtable on music and the mind, body and soul connection. This event was well attended and enthusiastically received!
Next, I felt it would be important to try and register a food related component, in celebration of the culinary arts, so I contacted Garnet Valley Organics. They agreed to host a farm tour revealing the process of the harvest, selection of produce to the consumer and delivery to their door. The many residents who signed up for the Local Motive Delivery Box in the South Okanagan got a behind-the-scenes look into the life of a working farm and the sustained effort it takes to be an organic farmer.
Being a Culture Days Ambassador has provided me the opportunity to be a conduit for business owners and organizations that are open and eager to engage the public in what they do best. I am thankful to BC Culture Days for choosing me as ambassador and helping me pursue my passions. Through this experience, I have even been appointed to Summerland’s Cultural Development Committee! Can’t wait for next year.
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