Large cast leads to increased Blyth Festival housing needs - March 16, 2017
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
The Blyth Festival is on the lookout for housing, but finds the competition to be a bit more stiff this year due to ongoing development in the village.
General Manager Rachael King, in her first year in the position, says that the Festival is facing a larger-than-usual challenge in accommodating a larger-than-usual cast for this Festival season.
Nearly 50 artists will be making their way to Blyth for this year’s season, King says, which doesn’t include the significant others, children and pets that all come as part of the families of Festival cast members, crew and musicians.
It’s very exciting, she said, to be bringing this many talented artists to the community for her first season, but it’s also challenging to find places for all of them.
King says that while the Festival is hoping for any help it can get in meeting this challenge, with community members willing to offer rooms of their house, she is ideally looking for independent dwellings to house people and their families for a number of months.
Artistic Director Gil Garratt said that while billeting in the community is a time-honoured tradition for the Festival, that set-up is a better fit for directors, designers or playwrights who are in Blyth for a few weeks, maybe a month.
For cast members who could be spending as much as five months in Blyth between rehearsals and the extended season, an independent dwelling, whether it be a house, a farmhouse or an apartment, would really be ideal for those travelling artists.
With development from the Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity and Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company, housing in the village is a little tougher to come by, Garratt said, so he’s hoping that landowners will be willing to come forward to the Festival to help from outlying communities like Londesborough, Belgrave, Auburn, Walton and Brussels.
While many of the artists travelling from city centres like Toronto won’t have cars or driver’s licences, some will and King says she’ll be able to match them up with housing that is just out of the village.
King says that the Festival takes care of all housing accommodations, so any landlords willing to lease their properties to the Festival will be dealing directly with the Festival, which will be paying the rent.
For anyone willing to lease housing to the Festival for the upcoming season, contact King at the Blyth Festival office at 519-523-9300.