It's in the mail
Music festival says mistakes happen

Michele LeTourneau
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 13/99) - In a recent letter to the organizers of Folk on the Rocks, local performer Moira Cameron alleges a breach of her contract.

"The contract specifically said I was to get one sidestage performance and one mainstage performance. And I was in fact given two sidestage, so twice the amount there, and four small entre-acts rather than one mainstage act," says Cameron.

"I was willing to let the change in my contract with regards to the sidestage go because I didn't think it was that big a deal, but the mainstage -- it was disappointing," says Cameron, who grew up around music festivals.

Festival director Jodi Woollam acknowledges that there was a miscommunication between the volunteer artistic direction committee -- a group of five volunteers collectively tackling the role of artistic director -- and Cameron.

"She understood that she had one set on the mainstage," says Woollam, adding that the committee envisioned a somewhat different role.

With Cameron being a local performer, familiar with the festival -- she's played four out of five years in a row at the festival -- and also familiar with the emcees Leela Gilday and Ryan Murray, they wanted to give the performer more exposure and the attitude was "let's give her full opportunities," explains Woollam.

According to the president of the board, Shauna Yeomans, Folk on the Rocks's job is to make the best usage of the acts they have.

"We had a couple of solo acts (Larry Gray was the other) and we needed to fill the gaps between bands," says Yeomans.

Woollam further stated:

"But nobody told her what role had been envisioned for her -- that's where we fell down."

For Cameron -- who had prepared a full set for the festival -- there is a definite difference between a set and doing entre-act performing.

"For one thing, if you're hired to provide filler in between sets, you don't know when you're going on, you don't know how long you're going on for, you don't how much material you need to do each time," says Cameron, adding that it restricted what she was able to do.

"Basically, I had to mould whatever I was going to do to suit the backstage, the sound crew, the site crew. I had to be prepared to shorten or lengthen my set at a moment's notice. And there were also people walking around behind me, testing mikes, plugging in things or whatever. So from my point of view, it's distracting, but also for the audience looking at me..."

Not to mention that between sets is the time to get up and stretch, go to the washroom, get something to drink.

"It's not a scheduled act, so they don't know you're going to perform."

The work involved, as a performer, is also somewhat different.

"It's a lot more work, it's more stressful, it's less rewarding and it takes a certain type of skill. I'd actually never done entre-act performing. Not like that. In a sense, I was happy to take on the challenge, but if I'd known that's what I was going to do, I would have asked for more money."

"Folk on the Rocks has to learn how to treat their performers, they have to learn that they have to abide by contracts," she adds.

"There will be mistakes when you have only two staff and groups of volunteers organizing an event of this size," concludes Woollam, who notes that a letter should be reaching Cameron any day.

"The letter to Moira has been written by a member of the board. Folk on the Rocks took this very seriously. I appreciate (her) letter, so does the board."

Yeomans concurs and adds that comments are not only appreciated by all performers, but also from audience members.

"That's how we grow as an organization and get better every year," she says.

The public is invited to attend the Annual General meeting Sept. 26 at 2 p.m. at the Northern Visitors Frontier Centre.

There were two other misunderstanding or errors that took place with performers during the festival. A similar contractual misunderstanding occurred with Rev. Ken (Ken Ramsden) while Winnie Attungala's performance was unfortunately interrupted. These are also being dealt with at the board level.