The History of Waterside Summer Series Music Festival
Originally formed in 1994 as a fundraiser for St. Alban's Church, Waterside Summer Series Music Festival has evolved into an independent not-for-profit organization that gained registered charity status in 2016.
Waterside's mission is to present high quality, mostly classical music in the wonderful setting of St.Paul's Church on Amherst Island.
The musical directors over the years, Diane Hieatt (1994-1999), Inka Brockhausen (2000-2003) and Beverley Harris (Artistic Director 2004-present), have used their connections and talents to attract increasingly more professional artists to the Waterside stage, to the extent that Waterside can now truly say that most of its artists are world-quality if not world-renowned - an amazing success story for a festival in a community of about 400 people.
How was this success achieved? Well, like many successes, it started - and continues to be - a largely volunteer-based effort that is supported by the local Island community and the larger community of dedicated music lovers off the Island. When Waterside became independent from St. Alban's in 2001 (and moved permanently to the larger capacity St.Paul's) with a goal to continuously increase the calibre of artists presented, it became clear that additional financial support would be needed. In 2005, Bill Harris approached Loyalist Township with a proposal that Waterside operate as a sub-committee of Township's Recreation and Culture Department. This proposal, when approved by Township Council, proved to be extremely beneficial to Waterside by providing administrative assistance, liability insurance and, most importantly, charitable donation receipts to Waterside supporters. The charitable "umbrella" provided by association with the municipality was a big incentive for donors and the improved financial position allowed concert ticket prices to remain quite affordable even while the quality of professional performers increased. It was great while it lasted!
In the fall of 2014, the Waterside Committee was informed by Township staff that the Township would no longer support any community organizations, including Waterside. Although initially disappointed and somewhat discouraged by this turn of events, the Waterside Committee soon adjusted to this new situation and, with the help of the Queen's School of Business Law Clinic, applied for corporate status and then charitable status, eventually becoming a registered charity in March of 2016. Now, Waterside is totally independent, relying solely on the on-going support of music-loving volunteers and sponsors and our nominally paid production, catering and ticket-selling staff.
The Board of Directors held its first Annual General Meeting in June of 2017. The Board reported that, although the Township did not provide financial support, the lost benefit of insurance coverage and professional services through the Township means that Waterside, on an ongoing basis, will have additional costs as an independent organization. Financial and other Board reports will be provided annually at the AGM, expected to be held each June. Follow this website for details.