COWICHAN VALLEY – In March of 2020, the Chamber made the difficult but necessary decision to postpone the 2020 Black Tie Awards in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic. The biennial event, celebrating excellence in business and volunteerism, was scheduled to take place at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on Friday, April 17th, 2020.
Late last fall, when public gatherings of up to 50 people were still permitted, the Chamber reached out to Chemainus Theatre to explore the idea of hosting a consecutive three-night affair, with three of the nine award categories presented each night, plus an additional day-time celebration to honour the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.
The proverbial stage set, the Chamber and Chemainus Theatre began working on a Media Release when murmerings begain to circulate that further public gathering restrictions were on the way, ahead of the Christmas holidays. Erring on the side of caution, the parties held off on the announcement, which turned out to be a good move.
With the recent marking of one-year anniversary since the pandemic was declared, and the (near) future of public gatherings still under debate, the Chamber has decided to proceed with a virtual award celebration. “While the Chamber had not initially ruled out a virtual awards ceremony, nominees and sponsors alike made clear their preference to hold off until an in-person event could be safely held,” explains Executive Director, Sonja Nagel. “And for our part, it was hard to imagine the Black Tie Awards without the excitement and sense of occasion that only a live celebration can create. But here we are a year later – something none of us could have anticipated – and we simply cannot wait any longer to honour our incredibly deserving finalists.”
Luckily, Chemainus Theatre is poised to tackle a virtual event, having recently received funding from Island Coastal Economic Trust’s Small Capital Grant program to support live streaming technology. The prospect of partnering on the Black Tie Awards is a welcome one for Chemainus Theatre as it holds particular significance for the organization. “As a past Black Tie Award recipient, we’ve experienced the first-rate planning and integrity that goes into staging this impactful event,” says Randal Huber. “It’s an honour to be part of bringing this exceptional and iconic celebration to the community, especially in this new presentation platform.”
In its virtual incarnation, the Black Tie Awards will take on a late-night talk-show format, with four live hosts and live musical accompaniment, combined with a mix of pre-recorded content as well as remote video feed of the 27 awards finalists and Lifetime Achievement Honouree. The Black Tie Awards is scheduled to stream live on the evening of Tuesday, May 4th. Everyone is invited to view the awards celebration from the comfort of their living rooms. Contact the Chamber for viewing details.
Sonja Nagel is the Executive Director of the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce. http://www.duncancc.bc.ca/