Northern Exposure Conference 2017

OCTOBER 13 - 15, 2017 

In October 2015 IMA ran the first Northern Exposure Conference, which brought together festival and arts organizers from across the province to network, get professional development and share ideas. The conference also featured showcases by performing artists.

In 2016 we held Northern Exposure: Festival Edition, which focused specifically on rural festival organizers.

Both conferences helped to strengthen a network of arts organizers in rural communities and the main consensusis that these kind of gatherings our vital to our success and sustainability.

Stay tuned for details about the 2017 Northern Exposure, October 13 -15.

Northern Exposure 2016 Gathering
October 21 to 23

The 2nd incarnation of Northern Exposure was held October 21-23 in Wells. Called the “Festival Edition,” it was geared specifically towards festival organizers. It was a much more informal gathering and geared towards the theme of “Working Together.”  How can we help one another, share resources, tools information and ideas, leverage group buying power/insurance, pool marketing dollars etc. 

The registration fee of $75 basically covers food costs. We would love to have everyone eat together, and Wells at this time of year has very few food options, so we wanted to take care of the food so we could ensure it was available. We also do not want cost to be a barrier, so let us know if you need a bursary in order to attend. As for accommodations, there are some options below. Again please let us know if you can’t afford the options and we can look at finding billets. We really want to make this accessible to all and we realize that the travel alone is a big cost for some.

Please share this information with any other festival organizer. This gathering will not be as relevant to arts councils and other arts organizers, but next year we will look at having a larger group again. Heritage Canada indicated that they would consider coming back on board with funding in 2017. 

Also please use this registration form to indicate your ability to attend ASAP. If we do  not have enough interest by September 30th we will look to postpone till next year.

We really hope to see you all in Wells this October,



Friday, October 21 - 7pm Reception and meet and greet at IMA Gallery (dinner available for purchase at the Wells Hotel)

Saturday, October 22 

    9am - Breakfast at IMA Gallery

    9:30  - 12pm
-Festival Intros (everyone shares info about their festival, we will have the capability to show images and video, 10 minutes each)
-Confirm the discussion topics for the afternoon - what are the pressing needs, what do we want to make sure to cover?

    12 - 1pm - Lunch    

    1pm - 4pm - Break out into our discussion groups

    4 - 6pm - Informal networking at the Wells Hotel Pub

    6pm - BBQ Dinner at the IMA Gallery

    Evening - more informal networking, we have decided not to have artist showcases this year as we have no funding to pay artists, but there may be some ad hoc performances that take place at the pub that night.

Sunday, October 23

    9am - Breakfast at the IMA Gallery

    9:30am - 12pm - further discussions and action items

    12 - 1pm - Lunch and good-byes



Registration is $75 per person and includes:

-A reception with food on Friday, October 21 at 7pm

-2 Continental Breakfasts (Saturday and Sunday)

-2 Lunches (Saturday and Sunday)

-1 Dinner on Saturday



Bursaries are available, please let us know if cost is a barrier to your attendance. We want you to come!



Accommodations are available at our “Nest” residency building with rates ranging from $35-45/night for a room with shared bathroom and kitchen to $65/night for an ensuite bathroom and shared kitchen.  Rates are based on double occupancy, and for the $65 rooms, you can fit more people in the room if you like. We have cots and extra beds that can be put in the rooms if you are up for sharing.

The Hubs Motel is also able to provide a $15/night discount for conference folks and the Wells Hotel is offering a 10% discount.

There may be some billeting option as well. Please let us know if you would like a billet and we will do our best to find one.



Please have everyone interested in attending fill out this google form

TO PAY registration you can do that through paypal below, or phone 1-800-442-2787 to pay over the phone with a credit card, or mail a cheque to Island Mountain Arts, Box 65, Wells, BC, V0K 2R0.



Northern Exposure Conference
October 9 to 11, 2015


It was an action packed Thanksgiving weekend in Wells with the Northern Exposure Conference, which brought together over eighty rural arts organizers and artists from around the province to share information, learn new skills and most importably, get to know one another. I feel so grateful to have had the chance to meet and mingle with such a fantastic and dedicated bunch. The facilitator of the conference, Inga Petri guided us through the whole process, sharing her expertise in marketing, audience development and cultural tourism. Read the complete article here

A common purpose: creating community

Speaking with Julie, we quickly established a common purpose: to build up a better networked rural festival and arts community.

My approach as facilitator and presenter was focused on creating spaces for participants to get to know each other, share knowledge and know-how, and encourage collaborative learning and action planning. Julie and her wonderful team took care of conference logistics, meals and showcases– 16 in total – at the local Sunset Theatre and the Wells Hotel. She arranged two sessions tailored for musicians. Sharing stories and action planning

On the last day of the conference we were in Barkerville.

The morning featured five inspiring stories presented by Julie Fowler, ArtsWells Festival/Island Mountain Arts; Carla Stephenson, Tiny Lights Festival; Karen Jeffery, Sunset Theatre; Deb Beaton Smith, Rifflandia; and Miriam Schilling, Xatśūll Heritage Village, Soda Creek.

The panelists – participants conversation drew the curtain back a little on how to build success, how to sustain arts in small communities and the kind of perseverance, experimentation and serendipity it takes. Everyone was eager to share their experiences and it felt like the perfect transition to move toward action planning.

But first I led a practical workshop on integrated online marketing with Fraser Hayes‘ able assistance. Fraser is the station manager of CFUR Radio in Prince George; a community radio station that has built a substantial integrated online footprint to complement its broadcasts. More insights and specific action items tumbled forth and then we were ready for lunch, a walk about this amazing restored gold rush town and the final two showcases.

Creating an open learning environment

I borrowed a networking exercise from the Yukon Arts Presenters Summit (Let’s Get Connected) which in turn the Yukon organizers had modified from SPARC. The four topics were:

•    who you are and what you do
•    your hopes and dreams
•    what you’re seeking
•    what you have to offer

I had the pleasure of working with Janet Rogers – a Mohawk/Tuscarora writer and broadcaster from the Six Nations in southern Ontario, who was born in Vancouver and has been living on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people (Victoria, BC) since 1994 –  to share information and lead a conversation on Cultural Tourism.  I provided context and laid out a cultural tourism landscape. Janet led a conversation on how to access indigenous artists for festivals and events, and encouraged making the necessary contacts early in the event planning process. She proposed that in so doing we could move from the acknowledgement of traditional lands into meaningful inclusion and full participation by indigenous and non-indigenous artists. After all, Aboriginal tourism is seen as a key aspect of expanding Canada’s and BC’s cultural tourism potential.

I felt this was an important and open conversation about an area many of us want to get right but also feel some insecurity about. These protocols are new to most event organizers. What excites me is that meaningful change can happen through our individual decisions and actions, by getting to know each other and speaking openly and respectfully to each other. We don’t have to wait until everything is figured out in the big picture.

Sharing stories and action planning

The conference concluded with action planning. First I asked everyone to write down key take-aways from the conference, their next action steps and desired short and long-term results. The process requires participants to write the information out twice: one copy to take home and the second copy to be shared with participants. In this way we hope to facilitate network building. (I borrowed this format in condensed form from the Yukon Arts Presenters Summit which was facilitated by Jerry Yoshitomi.) Writing this down twice gives more time to reflect and form greater commitment to taking actions. This exercise moved seamlessly into a robust conversation around participant-identified topics. We collapsed about 10 (!) suggested topics into three broad areas: programming, operations and youth. Participants quickly gravitated toward their topic and a number of specific ideas for collaborations and resource sharing were brought forward.

It seemed everyone felt confident that this conference was not merely the culmination of a long-standing dream, but that it would be the catalyst to move forward with closer ties between participants and their organizations from all over rural BC.

There is a lot of interest in continuing the conversations that Northern Exposure ignited and Island Mountain Arts hopes to offer the conference again.