Volunteer Joan O’Brien works in the kitchen at Carlin Hall, a place long known for its association with arts in the community.

Volunteer Joan O’Brien works in the kitchen at Carlin Hall, a place long known for its association with arts in the community.

Arts council gets new digs

Effective Sept. 1, the Arts Council for the South Shuswap will move from Faces Studio to the lower level of the Carlin Hall.

Carlin Hall will be getting much more action as part of an exciting collaboration between two non-profit organizations in the region.

Effective Sept. 1, the Arts Council for the South Shuswap will move from Faces Studio to the lower level of the Carlin Hall.

“We are very excited about the many possibilities a partnership with the arts council entails,” says Carlin & District Recreation Association president Larry Stephenson. “Bringing these two very 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.”

Rhys Laug, an arts council  director says one of the key mandates for the arts council is to collaborate with other community groups.

“We are very excited to be presented with this opportunity to work on this long-term joint project,” he says.

The story of the Carlin Hall is much the same as most community associations in the area, says arts council administrator Karen Brown.

“Their board works very hard fundraising to meet operational costs for the hall each year,” she says. “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 music concerts and monthly coffee houses.”

By moving to their new home at Carlin, the arts council will cut its budget for rent, utilities and insurance by over 60 per cent, allowing the council to focus more of its energy and finances on program expansion.

One such arts council initiative this summer has been the creation of the Music in the Bay series, a weekly music concert that takes place on the waterfront in Blind Bay on Thursday nights at 6:30 p.m.. The series has featured Cod Gone Wild, The Elk Tribe, Margit Skye Project, Jesse Mast and others who have shared their talent with residents and tourists.

‘The sense of community on Thursday nights on Centennial Field is fabulous,” says Brown. “It’s truly heartwarming to see grandparents dancing with their grandkids, fathers and sons tossing a football or frisbee around and young kids joining in on the parachute fun with other children, while the crowd enjoys two hours of complimentary music.”

One of the arts council board members was approached recently by a woman at a concert. She asked if ‘things like this always went on here and would these concerts continue.’

Yes was the reply: “It is certainly our focus to initiate or assist events such as these to occur.”

The woman then shared that she and her husband were scouting out the area and after spending the evening in the South Shuswap, a relocation to the area was now in their plans.

“This is what arts and cultural activities can do for a community,” says Brown. “When prospective residents see infrastructure and programming in place and take in a community event, it can enhance their wish to move here thereby resulting in community growth.”

So that answers the question as to what arts and culture can do for one’s community, but why Carlin for this collaboration?

“It was rather serendipitous actually,” says Laug, pointing out the Carlin Hall board was looking for a way to broaden the hall’s programming to expand use of the hall. “The arts council shared that vision so collaboration moving forward seemed natural.”

With the addition of the arts council programming, it will result in joint hours of use at Carlin to almost 2,000 a year.

“In addition,” adds Laug, “It has great highway access, is situated right next to Carlin Elementary/Middle School and has its own performance stage and green room upstairs.

“Plus it just oozes culture; the building dates back to 1933 and has a wonderful performance and event feel.”

Renovations have started on the lower level of the hall which will see the division of space into a full dance studio, two large music instruction rooms and the conversion of a commercial kitchen into a large art studio.

Grants have been written and are awaiting approval from the Western Economic Development Trust for a three-year extensive renovation project to include an overhaul of the stage, theatrical lighting and sound, exterior and landscape improvements to the grounds – all to create a lasting legacy in the community in the way of an arts and cultural centre.

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes, Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo and Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD)Area C director Paul Demenok all provided much-needed testimonial support to see this project come to fruition, says an enthusiastic Brown.

She says the arts council board should hear within the next month if they are moving forward to a larger renovation project other than what is being undertaken now. In the short term, construction of the lower level will continue to allow all Faces programming in dance, music and art to start at the new premises on Sept. 14.


For more information on fall classes, visit www.shuswaparts.com  or call Karen at 250-515-3276.



Salmon Arm Observer