The Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) is back with another season of entertainment, with season tickets going on sale August 22 for shows in Hay River.
“It’s a different season from last year,” said Marie Coderre, executive and artistic director for NACC. “There’s a little bit more theatre this year. It’s all a little bit more outside-the-box.”
Shows begin in Hay River with the Storytelling Festival September 15, and although it’s not part of the regular season, residents can purchase tickets for it online. The headliner – Howie Miller – is one of Canada’s greatest Aboriginal comedians, according to Coderre, and is able to tackle tough issues familiar to people in the North with humour.
The annual show also recruits a local performer, though who that performer is couldn’t be confirmed by press time.
“It’s going to be a great lineup,” said Coderre, adding that she hopes to be able to visit the schools with the performers as well, to help expose younger people to the performing arts.
The season’s four regular shows include familiar favourites like the International Lute Festival, also in September, and performances by acclaimed soprano Rebecca Caine in March. Coderre said that although she is excited about all the events, she was particularly proud of an audio-visual spectacle called “Spell to Bring Lost Creatures Home” by Shary Boyle and Christine Fellows, developed in partnership with NACC specifically for Northern audiences.
“It’s really something special,” she said. “It’s taken months of planning, but I think it will be really beautiful and I hope audiences come out and see it.”
To that end, Coderre said the centre is implementing a plan to help develop a younger audience by offering a family discount for performances in communities outside of Yellowknife.
“It’s only for the smaller communities,” she said. “Sometimes we have a hard time getting people out, and I understand it can be expensive for a family, so we do what we can.”
However, Coderre noted that with smaller venues and high travel prices, NACC does have to recover some costs from the shows in Hay River, Fort Smith, Norman Wells, Fort Simpson, and Inuvik.
While no longer holding a position on NACC’s board, Hay River resident Marilyn Barnes said she feels it’s important to support the centre in its travelling endeavours.
“Of course I intend to be a season ticket holder,” she said. “It is essential that as a member of the community I support this venture, even if I can’t attend all the performances.”
Coderre has said that while taking shows to smaller communities can be the most rewarding, it is also the most expensive and logistically-demanding part of her job. If people don’t come out to the shows, it becomes difficult for her to justify the expense.
“If you don’t use it, you lose it,” said Barnes. “There needs to be more support shown for arts events in general in Hay River.”