The establishment of the new home of the Arts Council for the South Shuswap, in collaboration with the Carlin & District Recreation Association, is nearing completion on the lower level of Carlin Hall. Together with the upstairs stage and kitchen facility, it will result in a new arts and cultural community centre for the area.
“This coming-together of the two groups has piqued the interest of community leaders in the Shuswap, as the two non-profit organizations have found a creative way to work towards sustainability for both groups,” says Karen Brown, arts council administrator.
New Digs – Effective Sept. 1 the Arts Council and all of its programming opened on the lower level of Carlin Hall.
The space boasts a large and comfortable foyer and waiting area for guests, a sprung floor and mirrored dance studio, two large sound-proofed music rooms and a bright and airy art room.
“What’s truly astonishing is, due to the hard work of many contractors, trades and a hardworking core of volunteers, the construction took just over three months,” says Brown. “The push was definitely on to get the bulk of the improvements done so that children especially, could start their classes in dance, music, art and theatre before we ventured too far into the year.”
Brown gives much of the credit to Reg Walters of Walters Construction for seeing the space come so far within the 90 days.
“Reg is a great guy, one who comes from a long-standing community-minded family, the Walters from Notch Hill,” says Brown of Walters’ expertise and involvement in many infrastructure projects that revolved around the arts. “His knowledge, expertise and commitment to this initiative was invaluable and we certainly couldn’t have pulled off a project of this magnitude without his involvement.”
Brown says other community partners such as Sorrento Building Centre, Connor MacDonald Construction, Bill Jordan, RH Electric and many people who volunteered countless hours, were instrumental in the renovation.
As well, assistance provided by Community Futures, was vital to the project, she adds
New Council – The Arts Council for the South Shuswap serves as an umbrella organization overseeing four vibrant programs.
Founding Directors are Lona Heinzig, president; Ryan Kurz, vice- president; Rhys Laug, Shera Niewenhuizen, Elise Jonker and Hilary Brown as directors.
Each of the directors oversees an initiative, working collectively to support the council’s mandate and vision of fostering arts and culture in the region.
FACES started as a private dance, art and music school in 2012, and is well known to most families in the South Shuswap.
As a new non-profit, FACES brought its programming to the arts council earlier this year. Classes now offered through the arts council are ballet, modern/lyrical, musical theatre, hip hop, visual arts and lessons in voice, piano, guitar, banjo, violin, flute, cello, oboe, trumpet, mandolin, bass and more.
“The quality of teaching staff at FACES is unsurpassed with local artistic talents Sylvain Vallee, Larry Stephenson and Lynn Erin heading up the music and art, while Storm Dafoe and Cera Bollo take care of the dance department,” says Brown.
Adult workshops in pottery, art, painting, needle felting, fabric arts, dance, photography, storytelling, creative writing and more are also offered.
The first Saturday of each month is Kids Day in the art studio, an affordable $10 two-hour art class where kids can create a wonderful take-home masterpiece.
The Arts Council, through FACES, strives to put programming in place to welcome in all ages and levels of creativity.
Working alongside administrator Karen Brown, directors Ryan Kurz and Elise Jonker oversee FACES.
• Arts council directors Laug and Heinzig oversee the children’s theatre, which has presented three very successful productions, involving Shuswap kids from ages 5 to 15.
Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland and A Grimm Night for Hans Christian Andersen have been presented under the direction of Ann Skelhorne.
“The kids take an active role in the creative process and new to the program this year, older kids in the company provide mentoring to younger children and new recruits joining the troupe for the first time,” says Brown.
Auditions for the 2016 production will take place later this month. If your child is interested, call Lona at 250-463-4536.
“We are very excited about the many possibilities a partnership with the arts council entails,” says Carlin and District Recreation Association president Larry Stephenson.
“Bringing these two like-minded non-profit associations together will not only help to preserve our community’s existing arts and cultural activities, it will also encourage growth as instructional programming becomes more accessible and opportunities for involvement from all age groups are provided.”
Adds Laug, “One of the key mandates for the arts council is to collaborate with other community groups and we are very excited to be presented with this opportunity to work on this long-term joint project with the Carlin Hall board.”
The story of the Carlin Hall is much the same as most community associations in the area. The board works very hard to fundraise in order to meet operational costs for the hall each year.
Their mandate is to serve as a multi-purpose facility that can welcome community and family events and provide the public with cultural opportunities such as various music concerts and coffee houses.
The board is looking to change the name of the society to the Carlin Community Arts & Cultural Centre, which is more in line with the association’s mandate.
“Carlin Hall board was looking for a way to broaden programming resulting in more hours of use in a year,” says Laug, noting they already had a cultural focus, especially in music.
“The Arts Council shared that vision so collaboration moving forward seemed natural.”
The hall has great highway access, is next to Carlin Elementary/Middle School and has its own performance stage and green room upstairs.