In tough economic times, people need the arts more than ever, says jazz singer Anna Jacyszyn who will perform at the Rotary Centre for the Arts’ top fundraiser of the year later this month.
The Gala for the Arts is used to ensure programming for the roughly 10,000 youth who traverse the RCA’s halls every year as it continues to push boundaries.
In lean times, the arts are often touted as a peripheral extravagance, sending those who organize big ticket, signature fundraisers to the poorhouse. But the artists lending their talents to this event say they believe Okanagan residents realize how critical creativity and the community the arts create is to weathering the economic blues.
“Especially in times where people are feeling the crunch and tightening their purse strings, this is when the arts come alive,” said Jacyszyn.
“People can go out and see paintings and listen to music…Even when I’m just walking through the RCA there’s so many different things happening that I just have this sense of belonging.”
Jacyszyn returned to the Okanagan five years ago after developing an international career as a jazz singer. She started a monthly Jazz Café and says the venture has been a wild success, despite Kelowna’s financial woes.
“We have people who have come and have religiously never missed a show,” she said. “This is their little time where they can have a cocktail, listen to some music and enjoy a night out—and they’re always there.”
Connecting with the creative community allows people to become more creative in their own lives, whether by finding a way to cook more appetizing dishes with less or providing some background music for a day spent doing extra work in the house, she said.
Effectively, the arts help feed the soul, says Stu Goldberg, who will join Jacyszyn as a guest artist for the fundraiser.
“The arts are important. I mean, it’s not going to pay your bills if you work in the stock market, but it raises you up to a higher level of consciousness,” says Goldberg. “It’s important for inspiring people.”
Goldberg spent 10 years touring Europe as a concert jazz pianist before moving to Los Angeles to work on film and television music for the next 20 years.
Retiring to Penticton on a whim, his aperiodic appearances in venues throughout the valley have added a certain spice to the music scene. He’s personally held six concerts at the RCA, performed with the Okanagan Symphony in the Kelowna Community Theatre and with Ballet Kelowna.
For the gala, he will finish the evening off, providing a little jazz for desert in the hallway of the tropically-themed event. The performance marks a return to where he started in Kelowna’s music scene, he noted, saying he was floored to find he was playing the hallway during his first gig at the venue; particularly once he discovered the Mary Irwin Theatre was inside.
But he soon realized this was no regular hallway performance; the lower atrium, for example, has a grand piano.
The evening opens with the high-energy Mazacote, a six-piece Latin band marrying Caribbean and various Latin American influences to build a crescendo that promises to set fire to a festive mood where Polynesian dancers and poi spinners, like the Kinshira Performance Troupe, fit right in.
The Gala for the Arts is at the Rotary Centre for the Arts on Saturday, Nov. 19. Tickets are $125 at the door or six for $600 and can be purchased at www.secectyourtickets.com or by calling 250-717-5304.