Heard About Harold

New arts and culture movement takes flight in Central Okanagan

A new grassroots arts and culture initiative has taken flight in the Central Okanagan. Heard About Harold is “the messenger on a mission to promote arts and culture in the region and celebrate its role in shaping healthy, flourishing communities.” 

Starting next week, Heard About Harold will deliver a free weekly newsletter with recently announced and upcoming events directly to subscribers’ inboxes. Their first goal is to reach 5,000 newsletter subscribers by the end of October, though organizers say there is a lot more to “Harold” than a newsletter.

Karma Lacoff Nieoczym, Executive and Creative Director with Creative Okanagan, is a member of the leadership team behind the movement: 

“We’re starting with a newsletter because we want to meet people where they are at. A lot of people don’t know where to find out about things that are happening, or they’re busy, so it’s just not on their radar. With a newsletter, we can try and make sure that anyone who cares about art and culture in the Central Okanagan has the opportunity to know what’s going on.” 

For event promoters, the event submission process has been made as quick and easy as possible with a simple calendar-based system. Arianne T., an early adopter, said, “It took no time at all to add my events. I submitted 3 events in 5 minutes when normally it takes about 10 minutes per event. It’s the easiest thing in the world.”

Founded by the region’s arts and culture community, early discussions for Heard About Harold began in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as event producers looked to increase opportunities for collaboration and cross-promotion. The multi-year development process involved a wide variety of regional arts and culture organizations and consultation with Indigenous partners. 

Lorna McParland, Artistic & Administrative Director at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art in Kelowna, has been a key driver behind the project, and she says it has been a truly collaborative process:

“Heard About Harold has been created by Central Okanagan arts and culture organizations to help promote arts and culture in our region. The process of developing Heard About Harold has been detailed, meaningful, and thoroughly collaborative, and a diverse range of voices have been invited into the project at various stages. It has been a long process, and it is still ongoing. We are excited to launch to the public today and look forward to seeing how the community helps shape Harold’s future.”

The name comes from the wordplay of “herald,” an official messenger that brings news. As a verb, herald can be a sign that something important and good is about to happen. Harold takes shape within the logo and branding as a curious and bold quail, a highly sociable bird that gathers in a flock and is known to ‘chat’ with friends and neighbours.

Valaura Jones, co-owner of Kelowna-based brand development and consulting agency By Jove Co., is another key leader in the project:

“Heard About Harold is a movement. It’s not just a website, a newsletter or a cute quail. This is about everyone who appreciates art and culture, creators and fans alike, whether they go to one concert a year or every exhibit opening. Heard About Harold is bringing all of us together to spread the word about the unbelievable things that are happening in our region. We’re determined to grow this into something that has a deep and lasting impact and moves us towards our vision of a flourishing community where art and culture thrive as part of our everyday lives.”

The movement’s leaders are keen to stress that this is just the beginning. Early discussions of future phases have centred around a comprehensive website and database, a small print publication and much more. However, organizers say that they are taking a data-informed approach and further developments and adjustments will be based on feedback and funding. 

Learn more about Heard About Harold and sign up for the newsletter at heardaboutharold.ca.

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