New Westminster history strikes a chord with Kickstarter campaign

Trials and triumphs of fundraising for the arts

By Cheryl Minns, Arts Editor

Popular crowd-funding website Kickstarter welcomed Canadian campaigns to the site in 2013, and already the New Westminster arts scene is turning towards it for funding from fans. One such production is Stump City Stories, a musical collection of New Westminster’s historical events written by author/composer/music director George Ryan and produced by City Stage New West (CSNW). The musical was commissioned in 2009 in response to the city’s 150th anniversary and performed in 2010.

“The play is a series of vignettes, telling in chronological order the history of the city of New Westminster in words and music. The four actors portray a large number of characters, some actual persons and some composite creations, who have been part of the city during its first 150 years,” Ryan explained.

The production ran on a very limited budget and performed mostly at schools, such as Douglas College, as a workshop. While audiences gave the musical high praise, and the play was nominated for an Ovation Award, there was not enough financial support to take the production further.

Now CSNW has turned to Kickstarter to raise funds for a professional studio recording of the musical to reignite the interest in this production that captures the legacy of New Westminster.

“Kickstarter is not for the meek,” said Renée Bucciarelli, the artistic director of CSNW. “We had several delays getting it up and running, and that pushed the campaign into the holidays. It’s all or nothing—you have to make your goal or you don’t get funded—and it was pretty much a nail-biter throughout the Christmas season.”

The campaign finished on December 24, 2013 with a grand total of $3,415—a little more than the initial goal of $3,000.

With funding in place, CSNW is getting the cast into the studio for recordings and designing the album artwork. They expect to release the recording in May.

“The songs are wonderful and unforgettable. Working on this show and knowing the songs and story like I do now has actually exposed me to the city’s history in a way I probably never would have encountered,” Bucciarelli said.

“The lyrics are often just hilariously clever, and the music covers a lot of historical styles as well as topics. Younger folks have actually said that seeing the show and hearing the songs has instilled a sense of pride in their city, and makes them think about the future of life here.”

Ryan added, “The 150th anniversary was an important milestone in the life of New Westminster. This play was a celebration of that history and it is fitting that a permanent record of it should exist.”

If you’re interested in supporting the local arts, check out CSNW’s latest production, Freud’s Last Session, at Galbraith House in New Westminster which starts January 29 (with a two-for-one preview on January 28) and runs until February 9.

For more information and tickets, check out www.citystagenewwest.org

The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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