The Yorkton Arts Council (YAC) is celebrating two significant anniversaries this year.
Sunflower, which takes place in the city this weekend, has been a major arts and craft event in Saskatchewan for 35 years.
And the popular Stars for Saskatchewan concert series is 40 years old.
The two events show the YAC’s continuing dedication to arts in the city, a commitment which also includes 26-years of bring Missoula Children’s Theatre to Yorkton each year, and the operation of pARTners Gallery in the Yorkton Public Library.
The YAC actually has a history reaching back until 1965 when the first plans for the organization took root, with the Council actually formalizing in 1966.
From the outset the YAC had a broad mandate to support art in all its forms, explained Merle Sherwin and Sandra MacColl, both long time YAC members.
As an example, the YAC was heavily involved in the formative years of the Godfrey Dean Gallery, and when the City took over operations of the gallery, it was not long, 2006, before the YAC was back involved in providing a venue for visual arts with creation of the pARTners Gallery.
Sunflower was actually an idea MacColl had. She explained she had always “known a lot of artists,” both as friends and within her family. As a result quality crafts were something she kept an eye on.
“I was interested in what was going on provincially,” she said.
So one year she was driving home from a craft show in Regina, one of only two, or three major craft events in Saskatchewan, she came up with an idea.
“We were driving back and I said ‘you know why couldn’t we do something in Yorkton’,” said MacColl.
The something would become Sunflower.
The initial craft events were held outdoors, and were juried affairs. The early years also included live performances and craft demonstrations.
Over the years the event evolved, moving indoors, and concentrating on being a sales venue for artisans from across Western Canada.
The event is popular with vendors with “lots of repeats,” said MacColl, who added there is always some turnover which keep things fresh for patrons. This year’s event has some 20 exhibitors booked who were not here in 2013.
In terms of the Stars for Saskatchewan concert series, it has been a long-running success.
Sherwin said the performances have been the key to keeping patrons returning year-after-year.
“It’s the variety of artists, and the quality of the artists,” she said, adding “we attempt to appeal to the audience we have.”
But the concert series remains a diverse one.
Through the years music has ranged from country to Broadway to jazz, blues and classical, with theatrical performances, ballet and comedy thrown in to the mix.
“For us variety is a key,” said Sherwin. “We try not to go with just one type.”
So what concerts stand out in the minds of those involved?
“John McDermott,” said MacColl, adding she had been aware of the Scottish-influence through CBC, and while he appeared in Yorkton earlier in his career, it has been interesting to watch his career grow.
Sherwin pointed to Canadian humourist Stuart McLean, best known for his long association with CBC radio.
“The quality of the humour was outstanding,” she said.
The YAC also tries to help new and local talent get greater exposure. As an example Lone Tree Road a local band, is part of the upcoming series.
Another reason the concert series remains popular is its affordability.
When purchasing a package for all the concerts in advance the price per concert still comes at about $16 each, and that makes them a great value for quality live performance.