KHC’s Bill Usher takes Presenter of the Year honours

Bill Usher was given some inspiring words from legendary singer Pete Seeger, words he has taken to heart throughout his career.

Bill Usher poses with his Presenter of the Year award alongside Ballet Kelowna’s artistic director David LeHay at Ballet Kelowna’s Civic Centre show on Apr. 11. Usher was given the award by the BC Touring Council at their annual awards show on Apr. 5.

Bill Usher was given some inspiring words from legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, words he has taken to heart throughout his career in arts and culture.

Seeger told Usher, who spent a lot of time interviewing famous artists while working on a book in the 1970s, that you don’t find community, you make community.

“It’s interesting how things that are just said to you in a moment as a young person and they just have an incredible weight to it,” Usher said. “You don’t realize how much weight they have until they keep come coming back and whacking you upside the head throughout your life…your life is rewarded the more you give.”

Anyone who has attended one of Kicking Horse Culture’s shows would surely agree that Usher has played a big role in making this community what it is now, especially when it comes to the arts, and Usher was deservedly named the Presenter of the Year by the BC Touring Council at their annual awards on Apr. 5.

Usher was presented with the award at the Pacific Contact booking conference and trade show in Burnaby, and said being recognized in this way by his peers was both a wonderful experience and an honour.

“It’s really gratifying and pleasing…it was really sweet.”

This was the second year that Usher was among the final nominees for the award, and comes as decisions regarding the future of Kicking Horse Culture’s public funding are being made by the CSRD and Area A director Garry Habart. KHC’s contract with local government, totalling $120,000 in funding, is set to expire at the end of 2014. The Town has agreed to chip in its $60,000 if the CSRD agrees to do the same, but a decision from the CSRD has yet to be made.

According to Usher, Golden is a model community for the arts in B.C. and is seen as such by those in the industry. He hopes that the award will help the CSRD take further notice, but says that KHC’s online petition (now at over 800 signees) speaks for itself.

“The comments (from the petition) are profound,” he said. “(People) are all for it.”

Decisions regarding KHC could be made at a CSRD meeting in Salmon Arm later this month.

In the meantime, Usher is busy finalizing the Summer Kicks lineup. The first show is scheduled for June 18 and will feature Juno award winning folk musician Valdy.

“He epitomizes that west coast (musician),” Usher said. “If he was young today he’s be a Jack Johnson, a surfer dude kind of thing.”

The rest of the Summer Kicks lineup will be released in early May and will include a special show to celebrate Canada Day festivities.

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