Coldsnap music festival turns to live streaming this year

As so many events have had to adapt to adhere to pandemic protocols so goes the Coldsnap Winter Musical Festival, presented by the Prince George Folkfest Society.

There are 15 artists who will be performing during the event held Jan. 26 to Feb. 6 and it's free.

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Thanks to grants, sponsors and donors, the viewing experience will be open to everyone who has online access.

Russell AV will take on the technical challenges while Enchainement Dance Centre will provide the 3,000 square foot black box theatre space that will allow musicians to perform while physically distanced from the production team who will provide high quality sound and light to pull this thing off.

There will be two artists presented each night of the festival and the kids' concert will be held Sunday, Jan. 31 at 1 p.m., which will be more of an interactive experience using the Zoom platform.

Because of the pandemic, the focus will be artists from B.C., especially Northern B.C., while in the past national and international artists were always part of the program.

The workshops will also be available where musicians take a more instructional bent but those details haven't all been worked out quite yet.

“This has been a rough year for everyone and we are excited to bring the music that we love directly into our audience’s homes where everyone can feel a little safer," artistic director Sue Judge said. "Live streaming is very new for us but we are excited to have a great team in Russell AV helping us create a wonderful experience."

Russell AV will provide a live-to-live stream recording studio setting, Aidyl Jago, board member of the Prince George Folkfest Society, explained.

"That way we are still able to provide those top quality production values that we typically would during a traditional live setting," Jago said.

When the pandemic first shut live performances down last spring, many entertainers took to their living rooms with whatever devices they had on hand to provide audio and video. That was not ideal, Jago said. 

"We wanted to avoid that mishmash of production quality," Jago said. "We wanted to have a nice stage, still have a nice set and really high production value so Russell AV is involved."

There's no limit to how many people can tune into the shows and the society hopes to expand their audience.

"So people from around the world will be able to tune in now as opposed to traveling to northern B.C. to experience the festival," she added. "We're hoping through their own promotion of their performance at the festival they'll draw from their crowd that wouldn't normally be able to attend the Coldsnap festival in person.”

Festival volunteers will monitor the numbers of people who virtually attend the festival and Jago believes live streaming performances could be a permanent part of what live entertainment looks like in the future.

For the last couple of years, the festival had sponsorship to live stream some of the workshops so it's something that could be expanded upon.

"Ultimately, we're going to miss having our big dance nights and kitchen parties but I think this is a good alternative to having a live audience this year," Jago said.

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