Here are some photos from Wells where we are so fortunate to be safe and in no fire danger. Many people are inquiring about ArtsWells, as much of our Cariboo Region is battling fire and dealing with evacuations. Our thoughts are with our friends and family throughout the affected areas.
In Wells we are meeting daily to plan and discuss how to move forward. It’s a day-by-day reality, but right now we are confident that ArtsWells WILL happen. You can still get to Wells. In fact we had 18 incredible visual artists working in Wells for the last ten days as part of the Toni Onley Artists' Project who travelled from all over the province (and beyond) to make art in Wells (Did you know that the organization that runs ArtsWells, Island Mountain Arts (http://imarts.com), also runs art workshops and residencies AND its the 40th Anniversary this year?). It was an important time of art making for those that were here and it brought great inspiration to many of us in the community.
Yes the drive to get to Wells from down south is longer with the current road closures. The route to Kamloops and up Highway 5 to Valemount and across Highway 16 to Prince George and then down to Wells takes about 12 hours from Vancouver or 11 hours from the Okanagan. Wells is a long journey for many people and that can be the beauty of it. Perhaps you will learn about new parts of the province as you journey to Wells this year. But planning is key, learn the routes and check any updates on closures through Drive BC (http://www.drivebc.ca). Learn about where the fires are by checking the interactive map from BC Wildfire Service (http://openmaps.gov.bc.ca/kml/wildfire/map.html). Be super vigilant about any possible cause of fire and know that there will be no campfires. Consider flying to Prince George and rent a car. Both Westjet and Air Canada fly into PG. You can also fly into Quesnel through Central Mountain Air (https://flycma.com), who are a sponsor of ArtsWells this year! Air Canada also flies into Quesnel. In Quesnel you can rent a car through Discount Car Rental, though they are not located at the airport.
In the community of Wells and Barkerville we are also doing our due diligence with community planning and emergency preparedness. ArtsWells has close community partnerships with the local RCMP, Ambulance, Fire Department, District of Wells, City of Quesnel, Barkerville Historic Town, Barkerville Gold Mines and all the local businesses. We are all and always committed to making sure all our visitors are safe well looked after. We have an Emergency Plan for the Town of Wells that we all worked on and finalized back in June.
We are expecting that numbers will be smaller at ArtsWells this year because we know that not everyone can make this journey. But we are working very hard to make this one of the best and safest festivals yet and we would love you to join with us. It is more important than ever to gather as a community and deepen our connections to our friends and neighbours across this province. We are committed to providing that space and doing all we can to stay strong and bring some much needed positivity and inspiration, not to mention a bit of economic relief to a region that is suffering.
We are still over two weeks away, and much can change in that time. As I said we are monitoring things day by day, but artists are gearing up and Wells and Barkerville welcomes you.
Executive & Artistic Director for Island Mountain Arts and the ArtsWells Festival