Executive director pulls the plug

Moving on: Roots and Blues Festival executive director Hugo Rampen will be leaving the organization in March. - James Murray/Observer
Moving on: Roots and Blues Festival executive director Hugo Rampen will be leaving the organization in March.
— image credit: James Murray/Observer

A piece of the festival puzzle will be missing.

After more than seven years as artistic director of the Roots and Blues Festival, Hugo Rampen has decided not to renew his contract in favour of seeking new adventures.

Previously established in the Canadian scene, the former music agent went from being self-employed to working with a large board, office staff and an army of volunteers.

“Like any business relationship it’s had its ups and downs, but I’ve enjoyed it,” he says, describing working with a board as having 12 wives. “Everyone has an opinion about how your job should be done and while you want people to have strong opinions, there’s a time they have to trust you.”

Rampen says he is most satisfied about improved relationships between the festival and community.

“I think we’ve become an efficient presenting machine,” he says, noting he also takes pride in how the festival has reached beyond the borders of the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds to include several Shuswap communities.

Rampen says losses incurred during the last two festivals are the result of the overall tourist economy.

“That’s reflected not just in music festivals,” he says. “I am proud of what we’ve put on… It’s world class.”

An Okanagan College study estimates the event brings in about $4 million in spending and about $250,000 pays local salaries, businesses and services.

“I think we all get too comfortable in the job and I don’t think that serves audiences well,” he says, pointing out he has been considering a career change at the end of the season for the last couple of years. “I’d ask myself  a question: “Is this it? I felt the challenge was being diminished.”

Rampen says he also decided that it’s time to let someone else create a different energy in the festival.

He will most likely remain on the job until the end of March in order to help the new executive director-manager get up to speed.

“I don’t want to leave the community or festival high and dry.”



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