I’m often asked “Who books the shows?” I reply, “I do.”

Posted by Bill Usher, artistic and executive director of Kicking Horse Culture.

I’m often asked “Who books the shows?” I reply, “I do.”

Usually the chat then digresses into a whole bunch of topics like “how do you find them?”, “why do they want to come to Golden?”, “how do you fit them into a schedule?” and, sometimes, “how much do they cost?”. All really good questions, and questions I’m more than happy to answer as best I can.

In the big towns of Canada, the soft seat big concert halls can reach out to a specific artist and make an offer for a certain date in their hall’s season. For the small, rural towns like Golden, we can’t do that. We have to keep our ear to the ground and strike when opportunity knocks.

Good touring artists, agents and managers reach out to the presenters in a certain part of the world by email or phone and ask, “We’re touring Alberta and BC in November of 2012 – are you interested?” For Golden specifically, this means that the artist is headed east from BC for weekend gigs in Calgary or Edmonton or headed west into BC after weekend gigs in Calgary or Edmonton. Touring is all about playing as many nights of the week as you can so the artist maximizes their revenues and minimizes their road expenses.

So, to put together a LIVE Kicks season or a SUMMER Kicks season of shows (that’s close to two dozen annually), I am constantly looking at who’s on the road, when are they coming along the highway, and how much do they cost? I’m also juggling to make sure we can present some variety in music, some theatre, some dance. I’m always trying to make sure I book artists that I think Golden wants to see or artists that Golden doesn’t know anything about – yet – but, will be delighted when they discover them. Last but not least, we have to figure out all the expenses and all the revenues and hope that over a season of shows we can break even.

Last season, we moved our LIVE Kicks shows to the much smaller Parish Hall and our attendances dropped as well as our memberships. Our core audience stayed with us but, that extra 80 to 100 people who came to the shows at the old Civic Centre stopped coming. We knew early on that the 10/11 season would be a “grin and bear it” situation and we consciously booked artists who could put on a great evening’s entertainment on the makeshift stage and surroundings.

For the upcoming 11/12 season in the brand new Civic Centre, we decided early on “to go big or go home!” So, back last winter, I began to track down and book artists and shows that I believe Golden will be delighted by. These are shows by artists who, before, would simply drive by on the highway on their way to shows in Banff, Calgary or Kelowna. We simply could not have afforded them.

So… with the opening of our gorgeous (wait till you see it inside) hall, we’ve “gone big”: our 11/12 artist fee budget is up by about 35% over the average of our last few years. That’s not to say that paying higher artist fees means that those artists put on a better show than those who charge lower fees; I’m really proud of the many fantastic nights of shows we’ve had in Golden these past 7 seasons as Kicking Horse Culture.

But, it does mean that we can pull artists off the highway and get them to come into Golden to play… artists that you would otherwise have to get in your car and drive to Banff or beyond to see at a much higher ticket price and personal expense.

So, we’ve gone out on the ledge this year and, we need your support.

Become a Member of KHC and consider it your organization, because it is. Then, with all the benefits that comes with membership, take a look at the season, mark off the shows you want to see on your calendar and buy some tickets. Tell your friends. Tell your co-workers. Tell everyone on Facebook. Stop people at the grocery store and tell them too. Plan a night out together and come en masse.

Our promise to you is that we will work as hard as we can to make each show night truly worth your time and money.

The first show up on Sunday, Nov. 6 is the phenomenal Alex Cuba, a Grammy and Juno Award winner who has been touring the world these past few years. Alex ‘s star is rising very fast and we’re very lucky to be able to pull him off the road into Golden for one night only.

Don’t be the one to tell us the day after, “My friends tell me it was an amazing show last night. Damn, I missed it!”