It’s been nearly two years since music, dance, instrumental and choral students have been able to perform in front of an adjudicator. And the president of the Southeast Manitoba Festival says they are excited to be planning an in-person event in 2022.

Sharon Guenther shares how the 2020 festival ended. “We went through to about March 14th. So half of our festival was done. We were just about to start the dance competitions and that Friday, the whole thing fell through. The high school couldn't rent us their facility and there was, you know, almost like panic in the province so we had to cancel the rest of it.”

l, they decided that they didn’t have the ability to make it a virtual festival or have the funding needed to pull one-off.

“We didn't know how that would all work out, so we had to make the very difficult decision of cancelling the festival. We definitely didn't want to start something like that again and then have to disappoint so very many people with cancelling again. Plus putting in all that work would have been too much.”

Guenther says, this year they ended up watching how other festival committees organized virtual Covid-friendly events, and found it would be doable and successful, but she says, “we are planning an in-person festival next year and we are quite excited.”

She says they’ll be limiting the audience in order to keep with the provincial public health guidelines. “At this point, we can have people performing and being together and having an adjudicator. We will also try to put the performances online on our website.”

When it comes to students and teachers preparing for the festival, Guenther says there’s been a lot of excitement already. “I had one mom tell me, “My daughter is singing again and she hasn't done that for a year or more and she's very excited to be able to come back to the festival.” So, it makes me happy that we can give some children and adults the opportunity to participate in our festival.”

The 2022 Southeast Manitoba Festival registration is open to all piano and vocal disciplines, including musical theatre. Instrumental including strings and speech arts for individuals, however, classroom-sized speech arts groups might not be able to participate, if there are more than 20 students due to present-day restrictions. On that note, the SEMF board is considering asking an adjudicator to travel to different schools in the region and have the students participate that way, but nothing has been confirmed.

Disciplines that will not be offered in 2022 are Choral and Dance.

Guenther says registration for the 2022 SEMF is similar to other years. Their website has all the information needed, including entry forms and the addendum, which you are welcome to print off. She says, there is also a slight increase

to the registration fee, but still very affordable.

The registration deadline has been extended to December 22nd.

The 2022 Southeast Manitoba Festival will start on February 28th and continue through March 25th with a different discipline each week.

Another difference in the 2022 SEMF event is that there will be no programs printed off or sold at SEMF performances. Rather, they will be available on their website in PDF format. Guenther says, it only makes sense to do it this way to help keep expenses down.

Young trophy winner in the 2020 Southeast Manitoba Festival Guenther also says, that once again there will be no Gala or Awards evenings, although they are hoping to make it a special experience for performers. “Our adjudication sheet will be on thicker paper and will be designed by Chez Koop. It’ll be a little bit fancier and hopefully be a memento they can keep. We also will have scholarships and we will have recommendations to the provincial festival for those who are adjudicated.”

There is still an opportunity to donate money to the festival, by sponsoring a discipline or designating money for a scholarship award. They are also still looking for volunteers to help run the festival and help with some of the planning and organizing. Guenther says, “if anybody is interested in helping us in any way, we would be very happy to hear from them.”

To the residents of the southeast, she says, “I would just say, you know this is such a great opportunity to give your students a place to perform, a goal to work towards so that they can improve their skills. It's a wonderful opportunity for them to build skills that will help them in the future too. You know, speak in public or to perform or to give presentations at their work or to talk on the radio or to do so many different things and just to enrich our community and to support the achievement in the arts.”