Playwright George Ryga lived in Summerland from 1962 until his death in 1987.

Playwright George Ryga lived in Summerland from 1962 until his death in 1987.

Festival inspired by Ryga

An arts festival, inspired by the legacy of a Summerland playwright, has been proposed for the end of this summer.

An arts festival, inspired by the legacy of a Summerland playwright, has been proposed for the end of this summer.

On Tuesday evening, a delegation from the Ryga Festival Society presented information on their proposed Marginal Arts Festival.

The society, in honour of playwright George Ryga, is a registered society and a member of the Summerland Arts Council.

Ryga, an internationally known English-language playwright, lived in Summerland from 1962 until his death in 1987.

His most famous play, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, was written from his home on Caldwell Street in 1967.

Peter Hay, a member of the society, said the name of the festival came from Ryga’s commitment to and support for those who were disparaged by society.

“George Ryga championed those who were marginalized by society,” Hay told council. “Ryga himself was often marginalized.”

For the first year, the event will include jazz at Centre Stage Theatre and events at wineries, parks and the library.

Planned events include performances, storytelling workshops, poetry workshops and reminiscences.

The festival would be held during the week leading into Labour Day.

This time period falls between the Edmonton Fringe Festival in mid August and the Vancouver Fringe Festival in mid September.

Barbara Thorburn, a member of the Ryga Festival Society, asked municipal council to support the proposed festival.

“Local government, business and the arts can collaborate for the benefit of the community,” she said.

Members of council said the proposed festival deserves further consideration.

“George Ryga is one of Summerland’s greatest assets,” said Coun. Doug Holmes. “I think this is a long overdue initiative.”

The presentation from the Ryga Festival Society was received for information.

In addition, municipal staff will prepare a report regarding the proposed arts festival.