Phyllis Stenson won Presenter of the Year for her work with the Harrison Festival Society.

Stenson elected president of national arts organization

Harrison Festival Society's executive director wins presenter award from CAPACOA

The executive director of the Harrison Festival Society has been elected as president of a large national arts organization.

Phyllis Stenson will hold the position for two years, for the Canadian Arts Presenting Associatiaon (CAPACOA).

“It’s going to be time consuming,” Stenson said Wednesday, “but not a huge challenge” due to the organization’s “very strong and very engaged staff.”

CAPACOA represents the presenting sector of the national arts scene, including theatres and festivals.

The announcement was made last week, during CAPACOA’s Annual Awards in Toronto.

It was there, that Phyllis received some more exciting news.

She won Presenter of the Year for her work with the Harrison Festival Society, from a roster of 19 candidates.

“Being a little festival in a rural area, I was quite stunned,” she said.

But the award speaks to the high quality of festival they put out each year, she said.

“One thing that was brought up in the conferences was not only the programming, but the values in the programming,” she said. “We bring a lot of world music, we work closely with our First Nation partners. Our festival is about more than booking acts. It has to do with community.”

The Festival will go on as planned for 2012, she added. However, if the Gaming Grant Community Review is not well-received by the provincial government, the Society — and other arts organizations across B.C. — will be in dire straits.

Stenson is keeping optimistic about the review process, and said pressure needs to be put on a federal level as well, to ensure arts funding from Ottawa remains consistent.

CAPACOA issued a released about Stenson’s award last week, saying “Phyllis has been the Artistic Director of the Harrison Festival in BC for the last 28 years. The ten day festival has focused on culturally diverse music and dance since its inception. Strong partnerships have also been established with the local aboriginal community.

“In addition to the festival, the organization presents ten concerts during the year. Phyllis is a co-founder of WRAD, the Western Artistic Directors of Roots Music Festivals and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of the Fraser Valley in 2006.”

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