In 1967’s summer of love, as colour and art were bursting onto ‘the scene’, a visionary group of arts activists looked into the Comox Valley’s future and got to work.
By incorporating the Comox Valley Community Arts Council, they ignited an organization that has brought an unending train of arts events and fostered some of the Valley’s most treasured artists and cultural institutions.
In celebrating its 50-year anniversary in 2017, Comox Valley Arts is looking both back to its rich history and forward to its future.
“The arts are so integral to the life and times of the Comox Valley,” says CVA president Anna Rambow. “It's a large part of who we are.”
Albeit with never a high profile, the fruit has been bountiful. The Arts Council has been at the heart of the arts development in the Valley. CVA was there at the beginning of Comox Valley Youth Music Society, The Comox Valley Art Gallery, Vancouver Island Musicfest, the Sid Williams Theatre, the Cultural Capital of Canada designation, the Muir Gallery, and more. Since its inception, CVA has supported the growth of organizations and groups into thriving cultural assets.
“CVA advocates for the arts and for the artist,” says executive director Dallas Stevenson, half of CVA’s highly-effective staff. “We create opportunities for our community to engage in the arts through our programming and events and offer a wide variety of support services to artists and arts groups, in all genres, to increase their prospects through opportunities to exhibit & perform, increased public visibility, funding options and information.
“As an umbrella organization, we’re always working to innovate new and better ways to celebrate and position the Comox Valley as an arts-producing centre.”
To share this 50 year milestone with the community, the first splash is in January with The Gumboot Project, in which 50 participants – ranging from professional artists to students – will share their artistic visions by painting gumboots and umbrellas.
The one-of-a kind pieces will be displayed in various Valley venues, then auctioned to the highest bidders at CVA’s cornerstone event, ‘Building the HeART of Community- 50 Years in the Making’, set for April 1 in the Filberg Centre.
“That day we’re celebrating! We’re highlighting the impact that decades of arts volunteerism has made in our community, and lighting the way forward for the creators coming up next” said Rambow.
The April 1 event also features a Youth Showcase during the daytime, followed by a GALA Multidisciplinary Arts Showcase in the evening, including Kevin Flesher’s presentation of CVA’s 2017-19 Poet Laureate. Flesher has done hundreds of poetry events over his two years as the Valley’s first Poet Laureate.
The evening will culminate in a full-on dance party.Details of other significant Comox Valley Arts 2017 programs and events – including the 30 Day Drawing Challenge, CVArts Mixer, Poet Laureate deadlines, SD71 School Poetry Contest deadline, CVA-CVAG Members’ Exhibit at CV Art Gallery, Studio Tours, Elevate, Foggy Mountain Fall Fair, and much more – can all be found on the CVA website.