I am Lila, the hospitality coordinator the Edmonton event. I wanted to clear something up for everyone....
We are NOT emphasizing local participants!
There will be tickets to individual concert available - this is not to minimize the importance of the international fan community. Rather, by guaranteeing a large number of participants at the major concerts (these tickets are only available for 3 of our 6+ concerts) we are able to attract more large name acts, such as our headliner Jann Arden (who was mentored by Cohen at the beginning of her career and remains a close friend).
We have developed a complete festival schedule, which includes open mike events, cohen-related films, a dance performance, and multiple concerts by professionals and amateurs alike. The schedule also features walking tours, a large scenic river valley picnic, and a tour of the places Cohen stayed and performed at during his month long stay in Edmonton while writing (and meeting) "The Sister's of Mercy." The tours and a number of the events are held multiple times, so you have plenty of time to go off and do your own thing without worrying about missing the only opportunity for each event.
BETTER YET we have a 24hr hospitality suite which is 100% dedicated to festival participants. This is not for the locals who only bought a ticket to one event - this is for meeting and mingling with other cohenites. We will have guitars and songbooks, cohen films and performances, and a steady supply of liquor - all the things we were sorely lacking during our voyages from bar-to-bar in Berlin. It will be our base of operations - the heart and soul of the fan community.
This is the first time we have had established funding and an experienced board creating the international event - that means bigger venues and more locals, sure, but it also means incredible performers and fantastic fan opportunities like the hospitality suite. We will have cohen's own art on display, as well as a fantastic gift to the fans, and all the usual joys of a cohen fan event, from the open mike to drunken sing-alongs. The only difference is that because of the structure we already have in place for our annual event, and the large local fan base, we are able to expand the event and make it bigger and better than ever.
I know Edmonton seems like a long way away, but so did Berlin when I hopped on my tras-atlantic flight there in 2006. We have chosen the end of July on Jarkko's advice, as more international participants are able to book their vacations at this time, and also because Edmonton hosts the majority of it's world reknowned festivals during this time. Come a week early and visit me at the Street Performer's Festival to see what I mean - it is one of the 5 largest and most respected performance festivals in the world. July in Edmonton is bright blue skies, a gorgeous dry heat, and all the fresh vegetables you can eat! (There is even a farmer's market three blocks from the hospitality suite on the Saturday).
As for being cold... I am many things, but I've never been accused of being cold! I have been a Cohen fan since birth, and I have brought my extensive knowledge of festival planning and fandom to create the best hospitality room imaginable - dedicated to the fans and what we want (which tends to be food, cohen, and drink)! Anyone who met me at the 2006 event (though admittedly I was not at my best that week) can vouch for my gregarious and warm nature... As the hospitality suite is my baby, I assure you we will make it the festival of your dreams. If you do not wish to mingle with the local crowd, I have created an extensive list of activities for festival participants, including parties, tours, and cohen-related arts and crafts (it sounds crazy, but trust me it's a ridiculous amount of fun with a fun group like the cohen fans!)
In short, I do not understand the complaints I've read here - hopefully I've cleared some of the dis-information up. Yes, Kim has a tendency to stick his foot in his mouth. But as Dar pointed out, his heart is in the right place... And he has made incredible efforts to keep the fan feel of the event alive. Certainly feel free to contact me directly with any questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org (I will keep any complaints in confidence, if you so desire)
Don't believe me that the event is planned with the international community in mind? Take a moment to look through the wide variety of information we have posted on the event already. Our main website is: http://www.leonardcohennights.org/2008.html
You should also check out my site, http://www.cohenites.blogspot.com, which lists everything from artist bios (http://www.cohenites.blogspot.com/search/label/artists) to accomodations and transportation options. Specific information about each event will be posted as I confirm the details, but for now check out our event schedule at http://www.leonardcohennights.org/schedule.html
I honestly hope to see you all there, partly because the more people we have the bigger (and better!) the party will be. However, I also hope you come because I have been working on this festival planning for two years and I know just how amazing it is going to be... I don't want you to spend the next 10 years hearing "you should have been there!"
All the best,
Hospitality Coordinator 2008
The Edmonton Event - before and after
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"Because I say so, that's why." -anon.
"Because I say so, that's why." -anon.
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