Celtic Colours International Festival wrapped up its thirteenth year with recognition from the local business community. A week after the Cape Breton Island-wide festival’s closing show on October 17, Business Manager Mary Pat Mombourquette and Jacke Scott, Chair of the Celtic Colours Festival Society, accepted the Sydney and area Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award in the Tourism category during an awards ceremony at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre.
“Getting an award like this from the Chamber of Commerce is nice because it reinforces the role Celtic Colours plays in the economy of Cape Breton Island,” says Mombourquette. “It proves that tourism, based on the island’s unique culture, is still a driving force despite the economic down-turn. It attracts visitors to Cape Breton and makes a positive economic impact on the island’s communities. And it shows that the investment of sponsors and government partners pays off in a big way.”
Although the final numbers are still being crunched, the Festival typically generates an annual impact of around $5 million on the economy of Cape Breton Island with about half of the audience coming from off-island. With the numbers that have been calculated so far, it looks like the festival is on track to maintain that level.
Despite having three fewer shows in 2009 than 2008, the total number of tickets sold for the nine-day event is up from last year. Twenty-five of the 44 shows sold out and 85.6% of all tickets available were sold (up from 82% in 2008).
The Irish theme of the Festival this year marked a departure from other years when artists came from a more diverse variety of backgrounds. This allowed for a chance to fully engage in one specific aspect of influence on Cape Breton’s traditional culture and music, and also to re-connect with ties between local and visiting artists established over 15 years ago. Two-dozen Irish artists were featured at Celtic Colours, and although few of their names were recognizable to many, they represented the top players in the tradition. This attention to detail, according to Artistic Director Joella Foulds, is what continues to draw crowds to the Celtic Colours International Festival.
“Excellence has always been the most important criteria in programming Celtic Colours,” says Foulds. “This year we worked closely with Irish fiddler Liz Doherty and local Artist in Residence Paul Cranford to explore the ties between the Irish influence and local tradition. And audiences responded. The priority we have put on excellence over the years has helped establish the Festival’s reputation for presenting top-notch entertainment, and Festival patrons have come to trust the Festival’s choices, whether they recognize the names of the performers or not.”
Now Festival organizers turn their attention to next year’s event, scheduled for October 8-16, 2010. For those who missed Celtic Colours this year, a number of video clip highlights and media coverage is available at www.celtic-colours.com.