Phil Alain is pressing "unpause" and breathing a huge sigh of relief. It has been three years since that last Night of Artists, but he recently announced it will be returning for its 25th anniversary next month.
The decision was not made in haste, he explained.
“I was hesitant, because just with the environment right now, I wasn't sure if it was something that would be well received, or if people would be more wondering what the heck am I thinking? I wouldn't call it pressure, but it was, I guess, encouragement that I was getting from artists, especially. They've been hit so hard over the last few years not being able to do shows anywhere, and musicians as well. They've just been all pushing so hard for me to do it again and when I discussed the idea with other people who were just looking so badly for something to do again, I just thought, well, apparently, this is what's needed more than anything right now. We're just going to move ahead and pray that everything goes smoothly," he said.
Considering it is still a “work in progress” in Alain's words, the full list of performers for the gala is not yet available. Acclaimed and multi-talented singer-songwriter, performer, composer, musician and recording artist Carrie Day; award-winning progressive world folk acoustic group Bardic Form; the dynamic all-female Alberta Heartland Chorus; and crowd-pleasing Cree folk singer-songwriter Phyllis Sinclair are all confirmed.
“I always seem to have some live art happening. I just haven't confirmed that yet, but I'm pretty sure there'll be some live art performance as well,” he laughed.
Amidst the uncertainty and hesitation that still exists about the end of the pandemic and the world returning to some semblance of normalcy, Alain did have one solid piece of encouragement to bolster the attendance for the three-day event: the ticket price is affordable to all.
“It's been a really tough year because I had to refund everything for the  show and people lost income and all that kind of thing, and some people were kind enough not to even ask for a refund for the tickets, which was really unbelievable. So, I've made the event completely free all weekend long, even the opening night gala,” he explained.
Alain strongly encouraged attendees to pre-register as a way of managing the crowds.
"It definitely helps to guarantee your spots because ... depending on what rules are at the time, we may have to have to worry about numbers within the facility," he said.
Attendance will also be by donation for all events.
Night of Artists will run from March 18 to 20. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the opening night gala. The NOA Artwalk takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. Entry is free or by donation but online pre-registration is required. Visit nightofartists.com for more information.