The annual Ryga Arts Festival, which will be held in August, 2020, pays tribute to the works of Canadian playwright George Ryga. (File photo)

Ryga Arts Festival to include virtual and in-person events

Arts festival in Summerland will run from Aug. 15 to 23

The Summerland Ryga Arts Festival will proceed this summer, with performances, workshops and other events taking place both online and in safe facilities.

“It’s certainly not quite the festival we envisioned for 2020, but we continue to be inspired by the works and vision of George Ryga and have navigated to a blend of presentations for this year,” said Heather Davies, artistic director of the festival.

The annual arts festival will take place Aug. 15 to 23 in Summerland.

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Organizers say many of the events are free to register, while others have ticket prices ranging from $8 to $12.

The festival has been restructured for this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Events have been organized to comply with the provincial health directives to slow the spread of the pandemic.

One highlight of this year’s festival will be a staged reading of the works of winners of the festival’s short play competition, from entries submitted by Okanagan Valley aspiring writers.

Musical performances are planned featuring music by blues legend Jim Byrnes, festival favourite Primary Colours and Julie Masi of the Parachute Club with Steve Soucy.

Award-winning author Anne Michaels, science fiction writer Gerry William and Jean Teillet, author of The Northwest is our Mother will hold author readings.

A digital performance, via Zoom, will present George Ryga’s Night Desk and Kitchen Party Cabaret, a celebration of words and music, with surprise guests from across the country.

The Ryga Festival aims to advance appreciation of the arts by organizing and staging an annual arts and cultural festival in Summerland that honours Ryga and works to encourage creativity and creative expression in any art form.

Most of Ryga’s plays, including his 1967 work, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, deal with social justice issues. There was always music, discussion, and a lively exchange of ideas in the Ryga household, and the Ryga family always welcomed visitors from near and far to their family home surrounded by orchards in Summerland.

Tickets are now on sale online, and more info can be found at Rygafest.ca.

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