Geneviève Doyon came North in 2010. Her first job in the Yukon was assisting Steve Slade with Arts in the Park. She says it was an amazing way to be introduced to the community. “I didn’t know the community at all when I started because I’d just moved to town — spending that summer with this huge group of Yukon artists created a really special bond that has kept me here.”

Fast forward to today. Doyon is preparing for her first summer in her role as Arts in the Park coordinator. “I am very aware of the legacy that has been placed on my shoulders,” she says. “Steve Slade ran Arts in the Park for 18 years. I’m sure when we open this year, on May 25, there will still be people really surprised to see me standing there and not him, despite the fact that I officially took on the role in November.

“I’m grateful I had that assistant role back in 2010, not just because it gave me a really sound footing on the day-to-day logistics of the festival, but because it gave me an understanding of what drove Steve to start the festival originally and why it was so important to him — it will allow me to find a better balance between honouring the history and moving the festival forward and making it my own.”

Arts in the Park will run from May 25 to August 7 in LePage Park on Wood Street, with free daily lunchtime shows and Wednesday evening public performances at 7 p.m. “I’m aiming for more ‘arts in the park’ and a little less ‘folk in the park,” Doyon explains.

She elaborates: “The festival will still be mostly composed of musical acts, but we will be featuring dance, theatre, and spoken word as well — and there will be a different visual artist each week creating art live in their medium to complement the action on the stage. “Because Arts in the Park tailors to such a cross-section of the community — you get a tourist sitting next to a lawyer next to someone who is homeless — it was really important to me to include a wide diversity of programming,” says Doyon.

“It’s not my personal taste dictating my line-up; instead, we need to showcase something for everyone. This means programming different genres, emerging and established artists and pieces for different age groups including kids, teenagers, and the old timers.

“In a way I get to be like Santa Claus every day,” she laughs. “I get to provide the community with this gift where they can hang out in the park and enjoy art for free. “And I get to do it while spending the summer outside with a great group of people.”

Doyon is looking at this summer as the first step in her new role. “I’m really excited to spend the next few summers doing this work,” she explains.

“The process of figuring out what I can bring to the program is really inspiring for me.”

For more information on the Arts in the Park schedule, check out www.musicyukon.com.