The 23rd annual Arts in the Park, running from May 21 until August 2, is here to usher in the summer season.

There are few events in Whitehorse that mark the arrival of summer like the kick-off of Arts in the Park. With its 23rd annual season underway, Arts in the Park has become an important cornerstone in the Yukon’s music and arts scene. This year, Arts in the Park runs from Tuesday, May 21 until Friday, August 2. During that time, it will feature several shows each week from local artists and travelling artists alike. The beginning of the season means great things for the Yukon’s music and art lovers. It also means a tremendous amount of work for the festival’s organizers.

Geneviève Doyon, producer and programmer, and Paris Pick, associate producer, were able to sit down for a chat amidst their busy hours. “I always get a bit of nerves at this point because we’re jumping into a full summer of music and art,” said Doyon, adding that there’s something special about seeing the festival come together each summer after a winter of organizational work.

Arts in the Park was founded in 1996 by Steve Slade and Dereen Hildebrand. It was meant to be a showcase for the territory’s lively arts scene. Over the ensuing two decades, Arts in the Park has developed a successful formula that simply does not need to change drastically from year to year.

“Arts in the Park is such an establishment,” said Doyon. “It’s the 23rd year and the format has just proven to work so well.” That said, there are some new aspects this year, including the addition of Pick to the team. “Building community through music is what I see in Paris,” said Doyon, who praises Pick’s passion for music, as well as her musical knowledge and connections in the community. Pick herself said she’s looking forward to working a job that involves watching live music almost every day. She’s eager to discover some new music.

“It’s a great opportunity to see a lot of artists you don’t see on the regular crawl out of the woodwork,” said Pick. “This is the kind of environment that brings new people out.” This year’s edition of Arts in the Park features a wide variety of musical styles, as well as everything from newly formed local bands to professional touring acts. These include local favourites, such as Speed Control and the Midnight Sons, as well as The Dark Fruits, a band made up of staple members of Whitehorse’s music scene.

Arts in the Park attendees will also be treated to acts from further afield, including Alaska’s Ukulele Russ, who is stopping in on his way to play the Atlin Arts and Music Festival, and Evrytt Willow from Dawson City. Willow has never played at Arts in the Park before.

“It’s always really nice to get those Outside acts that just happen to be in town looking for those extra gigs,” said Doyon. The diversity doesn’t end with musical genres though. The festival’s organizers have made great efforts to include a mix of genders, ages, cultures and levels of experience among the performers and visual artists.

“It’s a community festival and I want everyone in the community to feel like there’s something for them at Arts in the Park,” said Doyon. For newer musicians and bands, Arts in the Park is the perfect opportunity to catch some attention. With Whitehorse’s live music venues dwindling, Doyon said Arts in the Park provides a space for musicians to hone their craft and get better at performing in front of a crowd.

Doyon said people may not be as willing to pay to see a band they haven’t heard of, but because Arts in the Park is free, viewers can check out new music without putting a dent in their wallet. Arts in the Park consists of a noon-hour concert each weekday during its summer-long run, as well as an evening concert each Wednesday. There’s also a featured visual artist each week. All concerts take place on the outdoor stage at LePage Park and welcome audiences of all ages. For more information and to get involved as a volunteer, visit MusicYukon.com/ArtsInThePark.

Year after year, Arts in the Park brings out community members for a series of concerts and artist showcases