Drive and determination

By Chris Connors – The Cape Breton Post

Working nine straight 15-hour days without pay would probably take its
toll on most people, but not the volunteer drivers who help make the
Celtic Colours International Festival a success.

As if transporting 100 musicians and loads of equipment to venues in
communities across the island wasn’t enough, last year the 50 or so
people who help make sure the festival wheels keep spinning assumed
control of the sale and distribution of the Celtic Colours compilation
CD. What’s even more impressive, the non-profit Festival Volunteer
Drive’er Association is donating all of the money it earns – 10 per
cent of the profit from all albums sold – to various arts organizations
and individuals.

“I guess you could say we’re all a little bit insane,” a laughing Don MacAulay said Thursday.

But the retired Nova Scotia Power employee, who has been giving his
time to the festival for the last eight years, takes his job at the
festival very seriously, noting that despite the long days, he doesn’t
even really consider it work.

“For me, the whole concept of Celtic Colours, this huge gathering of
musicians and people from around the world, is something special. It
makes me proud to be part of making that happen.”

It’s the same for Gerardette Brown, a secretary at Cape Breton
University’s Beaton Institute who, along with husband Blair Brown,
takes a 10-day vacation each year to help Celtic Colours, which boasts
an army of some 900 volunteers in total.

After spending so much time driving musicians to festival events and
hanging around behind the scenes at so many shows, Brown said she still
feels obligated to give something more back.

During the Lobster Tales show Thursday night at the Gaelic College, the
drivers handed out their first cheque to the Gaelic Council of Nova
Scotia. Brown said the association also hopes to help a worthy young
Celtic musician or group get into the studio by helping cover some of
the recording costs (Gordie Sampson and Fred Lavery have already agreed
to offer a reduced rate at their Lakewind Sound Studios in Point Aconi).

“We want to make sure there are young people coming up to keep the
tradition alive,” she said. “They’re all struggling artists.”

Still, after giving so much, the question remains: why do the volunteers keep giving?

“It’s simple,” said Carolyn Jamael, who is volunteering for the eighth year. “We don’t ask why, we ask how.”

Copyright © 2005 Cape Breton Post

Call toll free for more information +1(877) 285-2321