The 2021 Vancouver Island MusicFest – The Virtual Edition – will be like no other festival executive producer Doug Cox has ever put together.
And while there have been many challenges new to him, there have been plenty of opportunities as well.
One such opportunity is the ability to promote the beauty of Comox Valley as a whole. With the entire community at his disposal, Cox and his team took the show to the great outdoors.
Many of the segments were filmed outside, highlighting “beautiful, natural British Columbia” in a way no other music festival has done.
The Comox Valley acquired its name from local Indigenous Peoples’ term for ‘Land of Plenty.’ On the weekend of July 9-11, the Land of Plenty will be showcased to the world and live-streamed by Black Press.
There are segments shot on Hornby Island, at the Number Six Mine Park in Cumberland, at Comox Lake (with the iconic Comox Glacier in the background), at 40 Knots Winery, Ships Point, and even at Crown Isle Golf Resort.
“What we tried to do was shoot in some of the areas that are iconic to the Valley,” said Cox. “It’s a little bit funky and it’s really cool.”
Attracting future artists, tourists
Cox said featuring the beauty of the Valley will prove to be a useful tool not only for attracting artists to future MusicFests but also as a tourism hook on the whole.
“For our funding this year, through the Ministry of Tourism, part of what we pitched was we told them we were going to feature the Comox Valley and its surroundings more than we ever have - not just the arts, but also the areas around here,” he said. “So that was an interesting challenge - how can we support North Island tourism when people aren’t even allowed to come here. That’s another huge part of why we are doing it this way.
“And it was really nice to be able to support some of the sponsors as well… for us to get to bring our artists to places like Crown Isle, who have supported us so greatly all these years, and give them exposure, I think that is a really great thing.”
Cox said despite the wet spring, the weather cooperated, for the most part.
“We’ve had two planned shoots on Mount Washington that we.. had to postpone…. But other than that, we’ve had a few rainy days, but we have been pretty lucky so far, with our shooting days.”
A Mount Washington shoot was completed on July 20, with Helen Austin as the featured artist.
In addition to the scenery, Vancouver Island talent will shine like never before.
Due to the ongoing travel restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the aforementioned challenges for the 2021 festival was lining up enough performers to create segments featuring the local scenery.
“We pretty well had to shoot only artists who could leave and go back home on the same day,” said Cox. “So that was the focus. Certainly, restrictions are loosening now, but even three weeks ago, that was a major concern.”
Fortunately for Cox, the Comox Valley’s ‘Land of Plenty’ moniker is not restricted to its natural beauty. There is a cornucopia of musical talent in the community as well.
“It’s worked out really well,” said Cox. “For one, it would have been really hard to arrange and accommodate a lot of acts from outside B.C, with what we are trying to do here, just because of all the restrictions due to the pandemic. But we also made a conscious decision to focus more on home to try and just support our local scene…”
While there are more local acts than other years, the 2021 Vancouver Island MusicFest will still have an abundance of talent from other parts of the province, and the country.
It will have an international flair to it as well, with segments shot in Austin, Texas, a ‘behind the scenes’ look at Muscle Shoals Studio in Alabama, and even a one-hour segment shot in and around Scotland.
(Watch for a feature on those segments in an upcoming article.)
For more information on Vancouver Island MusicFest - The Virtual Edition, visit islandmusicfest.com
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