Community Arts Council outlines ambitious plan for 2017

By on April 20, 2017
Some of the board members of the NVCAC pose with a cheque from the Thompson-Nicola Regional District. (Back row, from left): Etelka Gillespie, Tammy Steen, Libby Dybikowski, Catherine Oborne, Jean Kiegerl, Chelsea Werrun (with cheque). (Photo courtesy of the NVCAC).

The Nicola Valley Community Arts Council (NVCAC) is set to celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2017, and the group already has a swath of events planned for the year.

Boasting its largest ever board of directors, the NVCAC is aiming to greatly expand the number of programs the group puts on in the community, said Chelsea Werrun, president of the NVCAC.

Previous NVCAC boards have only had five members, explained Werrun, while the current board sits at 10 — nine of whom are brand new.

“New people, different energy,” said Werrun. “We had a really good turnout at the AGM, basically it was standing room. Really good to see people come out for the arts.”

Despite most of the board having been elected last December, several NVCAC events are already slated to get underway.

Starting on April 24, the NVCAC will be providing support and space for the School District 58 Arts Festival. The Courthouse Gallery will play host to the “It’s Not Only Black and White” Art Show, which opens on April 27, and will remain open at the gallery until May 5.

Meanwhile, the SD58 Arts Festival will also make use of the NVCAC’s grand piano, which is stored at the civic centre, said Werrun.

While this is the inaugural edition of the SD58 Arts Festival, the NVCAC is also looking to bring back events that proved popular from years’ past.

“In the past, we did three to four concerts per year,” said Werrun, adding that the concert series stopped in 2014.

“Getting the Bob Cokayne money, that was a big pleasant surprise,” she said. “It can help us reignite our concert series program and bring concerts back into the community.”

Edmund “Bob” Cokayne, a longtime resident of Merritt and someone who was known for his love of music, passed away in December 2016. In February, it was announced by the NVCAC that Cokayne’s estate donated $10,000 to the community group.

With Cokayne’s help, Werrun said the NVCAC aims to create a legacy fund — bolstered by other grants — in order to ensure the concert series can continue year after year. Currently, the group is aiming to bring the series back starting this fall, she added.

The aforementioned grand piano is also celebrating an anniversary this year — 20 years ago, the NVCAC purchased the grand piano as a lasting legacy for the community. Werrun said they’d like to find a way to host an event to mark the occasion.

And finally, the group plans to continue signature programs like “Art in the Park,” which takes place every Canada Day in Rotary Park. Local artists are invited to mingle among families, and locals can take part in a few arts projects themselves.

With a bigger board, members have more freedom to pursue the projects that truly interest them, explained Werrun, adding that the NVCAC has already reached out to other groups like the Love To Dance Academy to partner on grant requests.

“There used to be a dance troupe that would perform at different events,” said Werrun. “We’ve applied for a grant to help get that going again.”

Most recently, the NVCAC was awarded $3,000 through the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, which will support many of the programs already mentioned, said

The group currently holds a membership of around 130 people, and Werrun said the group is always looking for more volunteers, or interested community members to attend their meetings. The NVCAC meets every third Wednesday of the month in the community room at city hall, and all members of the public are welcome (whether they have paid their $10 NVCAC membership fee or not).

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