Musicians perform outside during ArtsWells. Photos: Island Mountain Arts Society
The ArtsWells Festival of All Things Art is an annual celebration located in Wells and Barkerville, B.C. 2018 was the 15th year for the festival and featured 116 diverse arts experiences over four days, on 10 unique stages. Approximately 1,333 festival-goers, as well as 905 artists, volunteers, guests and vendors descended on a community with a population of only 250. Island Mountain Arts Society, the organization that hosts ArtsWells, estimates that 90 per cent of festival participants come from B.C. ArtsWells has proven to be a cornerstone in establishing a strong standard for interdisciplinary arts performance and outreach in the central interior of British Columbia. The festival is constantly expanding, reaching new audiences and drawing more visitors each year. Festival attendance has grown steadily since inception and is highly thought of by artists from far and wide. The event has helped the Cariboo to be revered as a creative destination for artists and art enthusiasts. Many of the acts and artists were music-based, however, the festival also presented many interdisciplinary artists that helped engage and educate the audience in a wide range of artistic mediums, including visual arts, film, theatre, roving performance and Indigenous culture. A grant of $5,000 from the Fabulous Festivals and Events program was used to increase production value for the various programming throughout the festival. With this funding, improvements were made to artists’ performance spaces, allowing them to be more comfortable and confident bringing their craft to audiences and thus enriching the overall experience.
People of all ages participate or spectate in one of the many activities during the festival.