‘They miss this stop’: Okanagan venues woo performers with local tour

When performers head out on tour, all too often they’ll hit Calgary and Vancouver, skipping over the Okanagan.

Now, local venues are hoping to change that.

This week, they’ve invited booking agents and concert promoters from across Canada to tour local facilities in the hopes of attracting more shows to the Okanagan Valley.

On Wednesday, the four-day, multi-venue tour began at the Vernon Preforming Arts Centre, where staff were eager to show off the venue’s technical facilities, including a new digital projection system installed this summer.

Mark Greenhalgh, an Okanagan promoter who helped organize the tour, believes the reason why more performers aren’t stopping in the Okanagan is due to a lack of awareness in the industry of Okanagan venues.

Calgary-based concert promoter Greg Curtis is among those checking out the Okanagan facilities.

He typically works with blues, folk and indie rock acts, but has never done a show in the Okanagan.

“I haven’t had the opportunity, I guess,” Curtis said.

“It just never really crossed my radar. I think there is just a misconception that a lot of people go from Calgary to Vancouver. They miss this stop.”

The hope is this venue tour will put the Okanagan on performers’ radars, and that after agents see the Okanagan venues first-hand, they’ll feel more comfortable booking their artists here.

“In the more out-of-the-way areas, sometimes it is hard to get the best kind of equipment, public address systems and all that kind of stuff,” admits Stefanie Purificati, who works as a booking agent in Toronto.

“I just wasn’t expecting to be as blown away as I as with this facility.”

Indeed, after their tour of the Vernon performance space, it was clear the tour was already making an impression.

Curtis called the facility “fantastic” and described it as “over-equipped for its size.”

Purificati, meanwhile, enthusiastically agreed that the region was a good candidate for more performances.

“One venue tour in and I’m already thinking about what shows I can put on here,” she said.

However, it’s not only about technical specifications. Curtis said he will be looking to see if local venues are flexible enough to work with the business side of the performing industry.

The tour will also be visiting the Creekside Theatre in Lake Country and the Rotary Arts Centre in Kelowna, among other venues.

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