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Win Studio 9 tuition

This year, Kelowna’s Studio 9 Independent School of the Arts will give one lucky young person the chance to pursue their artistic dreams.

The school is giving out an enrollment scholarship for upcoming school year, and all any young person has to do to win is tell the school why they want to attend.

Studio 9 is an arts-focused school that allows young people’s artistic talents to flourish in a way they almost never could at a traditional school.

It focuses heavily on arts education, placing students in nine different arts courses each year, while incorporating the arts into a curriculum covering the traditional suite of high school subjects.

“You’re not here just to dance; you’re not here just to act. Taking all of the arts together gives young artists a rock-solid foundation, while allowing them to build on and better understand their strongest arts,” says CEO Mike Guzzi.

But that doesn’t mean students aren’t getting a robust academic education. Many assume a school like Studio 9 would be easier than a traditional school, but Guzzi says “it’s actually way harder.”

“Yes, there’s art in your life every day, and that’s what’s exciting, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to do the work,” he says.

Zoe Marie Welch is one of the Studio 9 students that did do that work.

After putting her nose to the grindstone she graduated from the school this year, a full year early, and is now pursuing a career in acting and music in Vancouver.

She says her years at Studio 9 fundamentally shaped who she is today.

“I definitely felt way more prepared going out into the world because of the school,” she says.

Welch says that, not only are the teachers at the school amazing (“they’re highly credited, they know what they’re doing, and they’re fun, too”), but they went above and beyond for her and her classmates, encouraging them to think critically and express themselves in a way that profoundly affected her.

“If you go to the school, you’re really allowed to express your individuality. It’s really nice to go somewhere and be encouraged to express yourself, and not have to try and conform to what everyone else is doing,” she says.

“Honestly, I wouldn't have gone anywhere else, and if I did I wouldn’t feel the same about school. I’m so happy that I went there.”

Guzzi says that, through the essay contest, he hopes to give a young person who might not otherwise be able to attend the school the same kinds of experiences Welch had.

He encourages any kid with a passion for the arts to submit a short writeup outlining why they want to attend Studio 9. Even if you’re not the most talented singer or dancer, he says, you are still welcome.

“That fit is a student that really wants to work hard, but loves the arts. And you don’t have to be the best at them, you just have to love them and appreciate them,” Guzzi says.

For more information on Studio 9 visit the school’s website. For a chance to win the entrance scholarship, click here. The contest closes Aug. 24.


Creativity Day dazzles

One of the most dazzling showcases of the Okanagan’s next generation of creatives is only days away.

The Wilden Creativity Day brings together the valley’s most unique and exciting creators for an hours long celebration of art, culture, music and food— all completely free, and open to anyone.

“The Wilden Creativity Day is one way we try and give back to a community that we love so much,” explains Karin Eger-Blenk, the director of marketing at Wilden. "Kelowna has a thriving art scene and we are thrilled to give the young generation of artists wider exposure."

The Blenk family, the developers of Wilden, Kelowna's largest master-planned community, have been hosting their Creativity Day since 2015.

It began when the family teamed up with the UBCO Faculty of Critical and Creative Studies to create a $2,500 award for a graduating student that has shown exceptional creativity.

Three years later, the event is a sparkling showcase of local art and culture, honouring the Okanagan’s most exciting emerging creators of music, visual art, culinary experiences and more.

This year, the recipient of the Wilden Creativity Award is Penticton’s Rho Shaw, whose photography and silkscreen work explores identity and language.

Shaw will exhibit her work at Creativity Day, alongside fellow nominees Pamela Turner and Jackie Deck.

But their award-winning artwork is only the beginning.

Guests will also get the chance to marvel at the 12 best entries in the #WildKelowna photo contest, with the winner being crowned before the afternoon is over.

The Wilden team will also unveil the innovative new homes it has developed for its new “Echo Ridge” neighbourhood, and give out some first-hand information about projects currently on the drawing board.

A trio of local musicians will lay a sonic soundscape throughout the event. Among them will be Michael Huber, the 2017 Okanagan Singer/Songwriter Competition winner; virtuoso guitarist and composer Adam Meacham, and the spellbinding singer and storyteller Nicole Holkestad.

Completing the sensory experience will be a selection of scrumptious, hand-crafted food from small local businesses.

Chocolate, gelato, kombucha, wine and beer will all be available to sample.

The Wilden Creativity Day is a complimentary event, and Eger-Blenk encourages anyone and everyone to come out and enjoy the experience.

“This is a celebration of new ideas in art, music, food and home design. Kelowna’s cultural life has a lot to offer, and we encourage everyone to come and experience it with us,” she says.

The Wilden Creativity Day will be held in the newly opened Wilden Presentation Centre and Showhome, at 1454 Rocky Point Drive, from 2-5 p.m.

For more information visit Wilden online.

Kelowna's rental revolution

There are more than four million rental households in Canada, which equates to nearly 30 per cent of all the homes.

Nearly 42 per cent of North Americans are renting, and that number is growing.

As times change, so is our workforce. Millennials are choosing to rent, and people are waiting longer before purchasing a home (or perhaps never purchasing one at all).

We are seeing a technological revolution changing the way our society functions. Innovative companies such as UBER and Airbnb have revolutionized industries, changing people’s habits. Years ago, a person would never jump in a stranger’s car, now millions  do it every day with UBER.

People using Airbnb are also opening their homes to strangers, something that was unheard of a decade ago.

However, renting is still done with an archaic method (using classifieds and physically signed contracts), despite the abundance of technology and information that is available.

Kelowna has an active and growing rental market consisting of students, vacationers, and young professionals.  Near-zero vacancies and low inventory have contributed to a developing rental crisis.

Mayor Colin Basran points out that, while the city is doing a lot to increase rental opportunities, governments and municipalities can’t address the issues on their own.

Now, a Kelowna company is trying to revolutionize renting with an innovation called Happipad.

Happipad is an online platform that allows long-term property renting to be completed in real time, with the same conveniences and accountability of familiar services such as Airbnb and UBER. Founded by a pair of engineers from UBC Okanagan, the service went live in Canada in July.

The Happipad concept was developed to increase the efficiency of renting.

Cailan Libby, Happipad’s CEO and co-founder, believes his service can create a new level of trust within the rental marketplace, by making it a social experience.

“The problem with renting today is that there is no track record. A landlord or tenant is able to take advantage of someone, run a rental scam or damage a property, and that bad behavior doesn’t follow them to their next landlord or tenant,” he explains.

But just as shady Amazon sellers or sub-par UBER drivers are punished for their bad ratings, slum landlords and deadbeat tenants will feel the effect of their bad Happipad scores.

Happipad rewards people for having good behaviour. Today if a tenant or landlord causes damages, everyone pays for it. This creates stereotypes, and changing rent prices to compensate for damages.

Libby hopes that Happipad will help ease the rental market by allowing landlords to find trusted tenants for properties that are typically not available for rent.

“Lots of people don’t rent their properties because they don’t trust potential tenants, we want to change that,” Libby says.

Happipad gives renters the ability to browse potential new homes on its rental map, and submit applications through the online platform. Meanwhile, landlords can both screen potential tenants and get the rental agreement signed and sealed directly through the service.

Once the tenancy is over, both parties can review one another, a feature that adds a whole new level of accountability to a process that is often plagued by guesswork.

The website’s live rental inventory means that, as soon as a contract is signed for a property, it gets removed from the service. Tenants can also see the number, and average amount, of offers on every single property.

“I am supportive of anything that will help our residents find homes and make it easier for responsible tenants to connect with well-intentioned landlords. Happipad is helping do exactly that,” Basran says.

“Happipad has the potential to make renting way easier, and that can only be a good thing for everyone involved. Renting is an important part of our society, if people have quality, happy tenancies, everyone wins,” Libby says.

For more information, check out Happipad online.


$299,900 to live at The Rise

Things are really heating up at The Rise.

Last month, developer A.J. Hazzi brought the first phase of his Vista Villas development to the prime Vernon real estate, jolting to life an area that had sat more-or-less stagnant for years.

More than $4 million worth of villas sold during the first week, and all of the larger Phase 1 units are now sold out.

“Everybody’s been wondering what’s going on up there, so it’s great to see so much action,” Hazzi says. “It definitely shows there’s real demand in Vernon for this product.”

Now, thanks to last month’s success, Hazzi is preparing to bring even more Vista Villas homes to the market—and this time he’s offering them at a jaw-droppingly low price.

On Aug. 12, Hazzi says a batch of two-bedroom units will go on sale at Vista Villas for $299,900.

“It’s the lowest price point that’s ever been introduced at The Rise, but we’re not compromising on anything. The finishings are beautiful, the upper floors have a great view—these are just exceptional units,” he says.

Vista Villas is unique to the Rise because Hazzi has been allowed to do away with the Tuscan style that was forced upon original development.

Instead, Vista Villas homes feature the kind of sleek, modern design today’s home buyers seek.

“One of the exciting things about Vista Villas is it doesn’t fall under the design guidelines of the original development, so we get away with a modern, contemporary design, which is way more on trend for this decade,” Hazzi says.

Hazzi also points out that his homes make a great investment, because they’re zoned in a way that makes it completely legal to rent them out through vacation rental sites like Airbnb.

But getting your hands on one of the units might not be so easy.

Hazzi is holding a sales event at Vista Villas on Aug. 12, from noon to 5 p.m.

The entire sales team will be on site, answering questions, giving tours, and selling the homes to lucky new buyers.

“The rest of the units will sell out that weekend, so people should make sure they get there if they’re interested in these homes,” Hazzi says.

For a sneak peek at what the Vista Villas homes will look like, more information on the development, or for sales inquiries, check out the development online.

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