Small Halls Inc. is a PEI non profit organization whose mandate is to bring events to rural, community-based venues all over Prince Edward Island.
To breathe new life into, what has become, declining community halls due to many factors, but mostly the rural-urban shift. They engage local communities and volunteers, to offer authentic, genuine experiences and ensure quality and professionalism in every facet of their event, from the planning to the artistic decisions, production, marketing and customer service.
As well as being firmly committed to their local communities, small venues and the organizations and volunteer committees that operate them, Small Halls is also committed to hiring Atlantic Canadian touring artists and they recognize the importance of showcasing and profiling the performers, venues and all parts of the entertainment industry on the east coast of Canada and specifically PEI.
Small Halls Inc. has an extensive list of accomplishments which includes over 40- 50 traditional music and storytelling shows per year in their flagship event -The Festival of Small Halls; plus the Prince Edward Island-wide Christmas Craft and Bake Sale in rural venues; a traditional music, multi-cultural, multi-stage extravaganza for Prince William and Kate Middleton on their Canadian tour in 2011; a 14 show celebration of Queen Elizabeth II for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and a 12 show school tour or the original production called “Let Me Tell You About the War of 1812”. Small Halls Inc. has also recently completed the successful school tour of the commemorative Juno Beach production called “Jake’s Gift’.
They have an extremely experienced and creative staff with a wealth of talent; their productions can be produced in both official languages.
The Festival of Small Halls is an eleven-day, traditional music, dance and storytelling festival held in June of each year. In 2014 Festival of Small Halls presented 45 events, which were held in 40 venues across the Island. This festival has consistently grown each year and has been nominated for East Coast Music Awards for “Event of the Year” (in Atlantic Canada) and the annual Canadian Event Industry Star Awards for Outstanding Logistical Achievement and Best Event Produced by an Association, Board or Committee. It has won the PEI Music Awards “Event of the Year” trophy in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
HISTORY & DESCRIPTION OF THE PEI FESTIVAL OF SMALL HALLS
Small Halls Inc. is a non profit organization dedicated to providing cultural entertainment and experiences to rural venues across PEI with the main production being the annual Festival of Small Halls.
The PEI Festival of Small Halls is a unique traditional music, dance and storytelling event, highlighting PEI’s Scottish, Irish and Acadian heritage. Held annually in rural community halls across the entire province of Prince Edward Island, this kickoff-to-summer festival features first-tier internationally-acclaimed musicians, dancers and storytellers from Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Canada and abroad.
The Festival is produced by Small Halls Inc. and presented annually in June.
The PEI Festival of Small Halls was first created in 2008 by Ray Brow, founder and president of Small Hall Inc. and Ward MacDonald, the festival’s first artistic director. The PEI Festival of Small Halls is a critically acclaimed traditional music, storytelling and dance festival which mixes music and dance from PEI’s rich Irish, Scottish and Acadian cultures, along with the Island’s proud tradition of singer-songwriters and folk tales.
The sixth annual PEI Festival of Small Halls was held last year from June 9 to 22, 2014 and showcased a stellar line-up of approximately 160 musicians, 14 storytellers and 6 dancers. Performances in 42 Island community halls within 14 exciting days across the entire province of PEI were produced by a staff of seven, and supported by over 600 volunteers from the communities.
Small Halls Inc. has operated the Festival since the beginning in June 2008 beginning with a modest series of 14 music and dance shows coupled with exhibits of beautiful Island visual art, all pulled together in a whirlwind seven week timeframe. In that year there was a small Board of Directors, two staff, and about 20 volunteers. A modest beginning that has grown in six years to what it is today after having presented festivals in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. The idea was conceived by two festival founders and the past chairman back in 2005 as an event which kicks off the summer spirit across the entire province. “The festival is the event that clears the cobwebs out of the halls after a long winter” says founder Ray Brow.
Festival of Small Halls was created to celebrate small halls, profile wonderful Island communities, and present professional performances across the Island, allowing a wide range of concert-goers to experience the genuine hospitality and charm of rural PEI. This is the essence and the core purpose of this unique province wide traditional genre festival.
In 2010 a storytelling component was added and professional marketing and branding concepts for the Festival were created with a tag line that states: “Traditional Music, Dance & Storytelling. An Exceptional Island Experience.” The logo and branding is now well known on Prince Edward Island and in the world of fine traditional music festivals, and the concept has been copied by organizations in many parts of the world.
The production of the Festival of Small Halls is accomplished with the support of the Province of Prince Edward Island, through the Departments of Tourism and Culture, Innovation & Advanced Learning (Skills PEI), and Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development. In addition support has been received from the Federal Government through Canadian Heritage and ACOA PEI (Tourism division) as well as from many community partners and corporate sponsors.
The festival has succeeded in past years and grown in terms of quality, industry recognition, awards and improving profit margins. The festival has successfully expanded PEI’s tourism product offering by creating a product for early summer, a feat thought not possible by many at inception.
Now known as the PEI Mutual Festival of Small Halls, this award-winning, critically acclaimed traditional music, dance and storytelling festival will run June 14-27 in 2015, and will again be hosting magical shows as well presenting unique workshops by professional artists who will instruct various levels of their craft so the public can learn and take part as well.