December 19, 2022#RCAWrapped – A Year in Review at the Rotary Centre for the Arts

By Emily Stubbs, Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Happy Holidays from the RCA! As 2022 draws to a close, we’ve been reflecting on what an incredible year it’s been here at the Rotary Centre for the Arts. From celebrating the RCA’s 20th anniversary to bringing new and exciting programs to our community, needless to say, we’ve had a busy year. And we’re not done yet! We can’t wait to share what we have planned for 2023. In the meantime, let’s reminisce about the past 12 months of arts and culture in Kelowna’s Cultural District. 

We kicked off 2022 by sharing our history in honour of our 20th anniversary. The #MyRCA social media campaign took archived photos from our building being built all the way to the present day, with all the amazing events in between. Thank you for sharing this history with us! 

One of the many #MyRCA photos; Valaura and Vince, the power couple behind By Jove Marketing, tying the knot in the Mary Irwin Theatre. Photo by Kevin Trowbridge Photography

As part of our celebration of Black History Month in February, the RCA presented a screening of Cheryl Foggo's documentary, John Ware Reclaimed. This brought a stirring and deeply personal portrait of John Ware, a Black cowboy and rancher who settled in Alberta prior to the turn of the 20th century, to the Mary Irwin Theatre. The RCA brings representational films, performances, and events such as John Ware Reclaimed to the Okanagan in an effort to do our part in making Kelowna a more inclusive, welcoming, equitable, and artistic place. 

In March 2022, we were thrilled to welcome the Roma Nord Bistro to the RCA community. Now one of the hottest restaurants in Downtown Kelowna, Roma Nord brings the authenticity of dining on a Roman piazza right to the RCA. Roma Nord combines owners Angela and Danilo D’Alba’s deep knowledge of Roman cuisine with the natural bounty of the Okanagan Valley, and we are thrilled that they are a part of the RCA. Make reservations to dine before the next theatre show you attend. 

March saw many captivating shows in the Mary Irwin Theatre, such as the musical talents of Lucas Fogale, Sue Foley, and Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg’s performance of her one-woman show, Body Parts. Spring and Summer were buzzing with new workshops - from Storytelling to Salsa there was something for everyone. All year round in our galleries, we showcased countless beautiful works from artists all over the Okanagan, like Judith Frigon, Youngtaek Woo, Orchard Valley Quilter's Guild, and the Pleasure Painters just to name a few. In May, we were given an incredible opportunity to showcase works of art created by the children of Ukraine. Organized by Kelowna Stands with Ukraine and the RCA, the exhibition was full of both inspiring and heartbreaking works done by young children living inside bomb shelters in Rivne. 

Artwork from Children of Ukraine

June was a busy month. We visited a 1920’s Berlin Kit Kat Club as the RCA and New Vintage Theatre brought Cabaret to the stage, we watched fabulous 2SLGBTQIA+ films in our Out & Proud Film Festival, emersed ourselves in contemporary dance at Body Extended with artists Jessica McMann and Emmalena Fredriksson, and brought accessible art to our seniors at the Creative Aging Festival.  

June is also National Indigenous History Month. The RCA (in partnership with Next Steps for Walking the Reconciliation Path working group, Amnesty International Okanagan, City of Kelowna Cultural Services, Okanagan Regional Library, Central Okanagan United Church, Kelowna Sunrise Rotary, and Honouring Indigenous People Circle) hosted the 94 Calls to Action Reading Circle. This allowed participants to reflect on what is outlined in the 94 Calls for Canadians, bringing awareness to its importance.⁠ We continue to advocate for an environment that values and supports Indigenous culture and Indigenous artists. The Rotary Centre for the Arts is situated on the unceded and traditional territories of the Syilx/Okanagan People.

Summertime means Arts Blast Summer Camps here at the RCA. Every year we provide children ages 5 to 12 with a wide range of art camps designed to spark creativity and build confidence and self-esteem. If you’re a parent planning ahead, registration for our 2023 Spring Camps is already open! 

Our Arts Blast camp leaders and counselors showing off their Arts Blast shirts.

Our Youth Arts Council was hard at work on their project this year - a portable mural (created under the mentorship and creative direction of professional artist Tyler Keeton Robbins, a former RCA tenant artist) that acted as a backdrop for pop-up performances around local neighbourhoods. From poetry readings to jazz performances, these teens had a blast sharing their creativity with you. 

Some of the RCA's Youth Arts Council working on their mural.

To help gear up for the RCA's 20th Anniversary, we threw the party of the summer! Our Summer Patio Series was a family-friendly, outdoor concert series that featured some of Kelowna best established and up-and-coming music acts. This free, accessible concert series was a huge hit, allowing our community to enjoy live music while soaking up that beautiful Okanagan sunshine. 

Photo of The Oot n' Oots by Justin Hill

We launched three new community programs this summer, Dance & Move, Draw Your Art Out, and Open Mic Night. These programs serve as a free space to dance, create, and perform! We’re always excited to see our community come together to express themselves in new ways. Everyone’s favourite Thursday night community program, Jazz Jam, had a bit of an update with the introduction of the Thursday Jazz Jam Scholarship. These Scholarships were created in partnership with our Jazz Jam hosts, Craig Thompson and Stephen Buck. 50% of your tips from each night of Jazz Jam (every Thursday at 5 PM at the RCA) are donated to the Thursday Jazz Jam Scholarship. The scholarships are presented to students who are regular contributors to the Thursday Jazz Jam, and who plan to study Jazz at the post-secondary level. ⁠ 

In September, the RCA took over Kelowna’s Cultural District for RAE – The Roving Audience Experience. For the second year in a row, the RCA brought together groups of artists, from painters to dancers and poets to buskers, for free performances at different locations around downtown Kelowna. Every corner of the Cultural District was buzzing with activity, from live street art to classical music, and we were so excited to bring these artists to you!  

Dani Lion performing in RAE.

Autumn brought us local star Leila Neverland, The Dancers of Damelahamid’s Mînowin, Canadian Artists John Millard, Tomson Highway, and Martha Ross production of The Cave, and of course the long-awaited performance from Canadian cultural icon, Mary Walsh. We ended the season with Kelowna’s best Halloween party, right in our Atrium. We transported guests back to an old school rock star mansion for a Haunted Rockin’ Halloween. What a (trick or) treat! 


NFA Band rocking the stage at our Haunted Rockin' Halloween.

After a year of build-up we finally reached our 20th Anniversary. On November 2nd, 2002, the Rotary Centre for the Arts officially opened its doors to the public as the hub for arts and culture in Kelowna. To celebrate our 20th Anniversary on November 2nd, 2022, we brought together everyone who has made the RCA what it is today, filling our Atrium with our history and beginnings. With drinks, speeches, a raffle, and more, this was truly a night to remember as each of us reflected on the history of the RCA. Thank you for coming to the theatre, supporting community programs, taking classes, bringing your children to summer camps, wandering through our galleries, and loving arts and culture for the past 20 years. Here’s to 20 more! 


Executive Director Colleen Fitzpatrick and founding member Gayle Stevenson celebrating the RCA's 20th Anniversary.

As we wrap up the year, we’ve had plenty of holiday fun with things like craft markets, Mission Dance Centre’s performance of The Nutcracker, and the RCA and New Vintage Theatre’s production of North Pole Stories, all bringing the magic of the holidays to life. The team at the RCA wishes our community a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year! Here’s just a few RCA Presents shows you can look forward to in 2023… 

RCA Presents: Suzie Vinnick & Lloyd Spiegel. A double bill featuring two multi-award winning Blues artists from opposite sides of the world, Suzie Vinnick and Lloyd Spiegel. 

RCA Presents: Cassie and Maggie MacDonald. Juno nominated siblings, Cassie & Maggie, will perform their unique blend of traditional and contemporary Celtic music live in the Mary Irwin Theatre. 

RCA Presents: Prelude to a Kiss - The Music of Ella Fitzgerald. Don't miss an unforgettable evening filled with popular jazz standards and ballads made famous by the multi-Grammy-winning 'first lady of song' Ella Fitzgerald. Starring international recording artist and actress, Leina DeBoer. 

RCA Presents: Yuk Yuk's - I am Woman Hear Me Laugh. In honour of International Woman's Day, catch some of Canada's funniest comedians in the Mary Irwin Theatre for an unforgettable night of laughs! Yuk Yuk's - I am Woman Hear Me Laugh, with Jane Stanton, Sharon Mahoney, and Amber Harper-Young. 

RCA Presents: Olivia Rose. Join us for a night of heartfelt and relatable songs performed by Canada's next rising country star, Olivia Rose. 

Check out the full list at


#RCAWrapped – A Year in Review at the Rotary Centre for the Arts