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Port Moody takes a small step toward launching a new outdoor arts festival

Is there enough arts in the City of the Arts?
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A new outdoor arts festival in Port Moody will start small with a fast film contest to be held this summer.

The City of the Arts is getting a new outdoor arts festival.

But it won’t be the day-long event of live performances, workshops, demonstrations, an artists’ market and live painting competition envisioned by members of Port Moody’s arts and culture committee.

Last Tuesday, council approved a pared-down version of the event comprised of a fast film contest and workshop for young filmmakers.

According to a report, the contest is expected to cost up to $7,000 to cover the cost of prizes, screening the entries as well as conducting the workshop.

But more important than the cost savings from the estimated $25,000 it would take to put on the broader event, the film contest “could serve as the foundation to develop a larger arts festival in the future,” said Port Moody’s cultural services manager, Devin Jain.

The smaller undertaking would also take pressure off the city’s budget as it gears up for the return of several city events like Canada Day celebrations and Car Free Day that have been off the books the past two years because of COVID-19 public health restrictions.

“A new event such as this would best be considered against the other events presented by the city to see if it should be added to the list, or if it should replace an existing city event,” Jain said in his report.

Coun. Hunter Madsen, who proposed the motion for a scaled-back event, said keeping it small and focused early on will give the organizing committee a chance to find its legs putting together such an endeavour.

But it also sends a message about the city’s commitment to live up to its moniker.

“I’m reluctant that in the City of the Arts, we keep pushing an arts festival back.”

The proposal for an outdoor arts festival grew from discussions last spring amongst members of the city’s arts and culture committee about ways to better promote the arts and artists in Port Moody.

Tracey Schaeffer, the vice-chair of the festival’s organizing committee, said it would also be a good way to re-engage the community after more than two years of social isolation because of the pandemic.

“My goal would be to get people interacting with each other.”

The fast film contest will challenge experienced and aspiring filmmakers from around Metro Vancouver to create short films from four to seven minutes in length that include three specified story elements, all within 72 hours.

The films will then be considered by two panels of judges, with cash prizes being awarded to five winners in various categories.

As well, the competition will be supplemented by a workshop to be conducted by Vancouver-based director and screenwriter Jason Karman, who’s productions have won several awards from the Vancouver Queer Film Festival and at Reel Pride Winnipeg.