A man who helped get Edmonton’s summer festival season going has passed away. Dick Finkel died on Tuesday after a long illness.
Born in New Jersey, he moved to Edmonton in 1984, first being involved with the folk festival. He was involved in programming and producing civic celebrations, music touring events, and festival productions throughout the 80’s. In 1985, he cofounded the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival, and produced it until 1999.
At the 1997 edition of Edmonton StreetFest, the “Golden Finkel” award was introduced by performer Robert “Butterfly Man” Nelson who suggested an award be given to individuals whose work represented a significant contribution to the realm of street theatre. This award recognizes excellence within the community and embodies the notion that certain members of the street performance world are dedicated to creating a sense of community as much as delivering great shows.
A brass top hat, the award was appropriately named in Dick’s honour and is presented at the Festival each year. That tradition will continue.
“We have lost a great friend, a mentor, and a man who always encouraged us to do our best for the art of street performance,” says StreetFest Artistic Producer Shelley Switzer.
Switzer says “We can be comforted by the millions of smiles and laughs that have blossomed throughout our community through Dick’s hard work; by the elevation of the art form; and by the respect and world-wide reputation of the Festival as a place to flourish as an artist. We tip our hats to you, Mr. Finkel, with much love and admiration.”
Dick Finkel was inducted into the Edmonton’s Arts & Culture Hall of Fame in 1999, and received the Governor General of Canada’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002. (eb)