Manitoba Country Music Awards nominee Nelson Little, 2021 Juno Award winner Sammy Jackson and Winnipeg-based emerging talent Quatt are just some of the artists performing at the Manitoba Showcase Conference in Portage la Prairie this week.
The multidisciplinary arts conference, which runs through Sunday, will feature more than 150 delegates from across Canada, including seven promising Manitobans. Held in person for the first time since 2019, the event offers artists, musicians and singers the opportunity to showcase in front of local and national presenters and galleries.
In addition to discussion topics and workshops, there will be exhibitions by five visual artists, including Pepe Hidalgo and Alison Davis.
“Our conference brings together booking agents and industry experts with a focus on Manitoban presenters and galleries. The conference and showcase offer workshops, live performances, one-on-one meetings and networking opportunities,” said Rose-Ann Harder, executive director of showcase organizer Manitoba Arts Network (MAN).
“Manitoba presenters and arts organizations will be booking artists from across Canada and the U.S. We have a number of Manitoba artists exhibiting,” he continued.
While creative industry attendees have the opportunity to network and book future performances during the conference, the general public is invited to attend ticketed matinee and evening shows ($25 for one night or $60 for three shows).
“It’s a really fun night for people to see a diverse show where you get to sample six different artists in one showcase that you might not otherwise get a chance to see,” says Harder.
Jane Ireland, arts administrator at Killarney Turtle Mountain Arts Council, is delighted that the conference is back in person.
“This is the first time since the pandemic. The last couple were all online and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again,” she says
“In 2018 I was appointed as the Fine Arts Administrator in Killarney. I bring a lot of skills but not a lot of connections or knowledge of Manitoba’s arts or arts community. When I found out about the Manitoba Arts Network and Showcase, I jumped at it because I knew it would give me that connection. I started introducing performers, which was great because there hadn’t been any music in our community for quite some time.”
For Prince Edward Island classical pianist Sarah Hagen, the showcase is an opportunity to meet her presenters and offer the best programs.
“These showcases are an incredible opportunity for a performer to be in front of people. I love that I can meet the presenters, which helps me learn what the community needs. Also what I really like about Manitoba Showcase and the touring scheme they have set up is that they also do a lot of concerts in Care.”
Concerts in Care, organized by the Health Arts Society, is a program that offers 45-minute concerts to visitors in long-term care homes.
“We did a few concerts here and there, but Covid kind of broke it up,” says Harder. This is a great program; We hope it will eventually return. We’ve been trying for the past two years, delivering a handful of concerts and we hope to resume regular full force in the next year or two, which is between 150 and 200 concerts per year.”
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