Aurora’s Joel Gouveia came to Town Park last year with a dream: to bring the community together through music to support area mental health programs.
What he didn’t have, however, was certainty – but by following health protocols in place at the start of the global pandemic, bolstered with no small degree of determination, he made the Aurorapalooza a musical fundraising success for the Canadian Mental Health Association.
It’s a success that is only set to treble on August 7 with the second annual Aurorapalooza.
Bringing together music, art, food and community, the lineup includes such local bands and musicians as Floral Park, Your Hunni, Yellow Magnolia, The Beresfords, and Cigar Club, with art from LXYXT and Daniella.
“Last year was definitely tougher than this year, I think, just because we were only allowed 100 people,” says Gouveia. “Everyone was kind of iffy, there was a lot of paranoia with COVID-19, a lot of rules have been developed and the Health Department has been great in making these new rules. I think we can do it in a bigger scale but also in a safer manner just because everyone is a little bit more comfortable with what is going on.”
With more certainty comes a larger capacity and, at press time this week, Aurorapalooza has already raised more than three times what they had last year for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Ontario.
“Mental health has always been really important to me,” he says. “I have a lot of friends who struggle with mental health issues and people have been affected by it, whether it is a lost loved one from mental illness or other things like that. I think during the pandemic it has really been difficult; even if you didn’t have pre-existing mental health conditions, isolation really takes a toll on the brain with lack of social interaction. It is an unfortunate time, really. I just want to do my part. I would love to raise tens of thousands of dollars, if I could, but the event is so small I would he happy with a couple of thousand.”
This sense of giving back is something Gouveia says contributed to the lineup he has been able to assemble. Supporting local talent and, of course, ensuring they have an audience to perform before in these challenging times, drives him – as does spotlighting homegrown performers.
“Our artists really jumped at this, which is awesome,” he says. “As an artist, you want to empower yourself and express yourself and perform because that is what gets these guys by. They were really excited. Everyone was ecstatic to hear about it. It is funny because nobody even asked about the money and that just shows how eager they are to come out. I am going to be paying them for their time, but nobody even asked about the fees involved – they were just in. That just shows the side of the artist that just cares about displaying their art and empowering them as an artist. That’s where I come in: I like to let the artists do their thing, be artists, and give them the freedom to express themselves on stage.”
Artists, however, will need to express themselves safely – as will audience members as they are encouraged to stay in their own “social circles” but, in addition to the music, there will be plenty of opportunities to not only listen but shop local.
“It is all about giving back to the community,” he says. “I think people really feel strongly about that because the economy has really been struggling with all these businesses shutting down and it doesn’t even stop there; all of the equipment we’re renting is all local, all of our staff is local, and all of our talent is local. I think that supporting local will really make it a more attractive thing for people because that is something they feel really strongly about. I don’t really want to go to Toronto for a concert right now just because it is kind of scary there with such a dense population. I think doing small-town gigs like this is more attractive for people, at least right now.”
Tickets for Aurorapalooza are on sale now, with options to purchase social circles of two, four, six, eight and 10. Patrons can also donate directly to the Canadian Mental Health Association and the artists of their choice. For more information, visit aurorapalooza.com or aurora.snapd.com/events/view/1349965.
Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran