Ken Blackburn, seen here celebrating another round of community banners going up in Willow Point, says he’d like to see some partnerships formed to see how the arts can help address homelessness in our community. Mirror File Photo

Campbell River Arts Council looks to be part of homelessness solution

‘I think the arts can be a very valuable partner in facilitating discussions,’ says executive director

The start of the year, for many people and organizations, isn’t Jan. 1.

It’s September.

The Campbell River Arts Council is one such organization, and executive director Ken Blackburn says it’s also the right time to be looking at new initiatives they can take on and new ways they can help out in the community.

“I think it’s an important time of year, coming out of the summer, to make a plan on how we can go forward,” Blackburn says. “And as we head into the fall, we’d like to remind the community that we are very much a community partner here to assist the community address issues they’d like to address, including social ones.”

To that end, Blackburn says, a new push is being made by the arts council to partner up with social service organizations and businesses to see how the arts can help address the homelessness issue in our community.

“I think that’s maybe the most pressing issue in our community right now,” Blackburn says. “The challenges we are facing with homelessness are quite evident. The city has done a good job in setting up that security office and policing system downtown and, by my understanding, businesses are pretty happy with that, but there’s obviously more work to be done. There are a lot of good organizations and excellent front-line workers that are out there doing great jobs, but there’s the question about whether we’ve mapped this terrain very well.”

Blackburn says that without “mapping that terrain,” and, “digging down deeper into the causes,” we can’t really begin to solve the problems that lead to homelessness, which is really more of a symptom than a problem itself.

“I think the arts can be a very valuable partner in facilitating discussions and using creative facilitation methods to start to, in a sense, start getting a map of what’s happening out there,” Blackburn says, “whether that’s working directly with street-engaged people or partnering with other organizations that are already doing good work and sharing our collective resources with them.”

He uses some examples of organizations around the community already integrating the arts into their social service roles, such as the Campbell River Head Injury Society’s art program – which the arts council facilitates – the recent hiring of an art therapist by the Campbell River Hospice Society the Art in the Hospital program and the art gallery’s workshop targeting under-represented youth happening this very week.

RELATED: Hospice brings on art therapist

RELATED: Youth Art Workshops at the Art Gallery

“We’d like to start by facilitating some community forums around some of the complexities of homelessness and brainstorming with some of the front-line organizations on how we can dig deeper,” Blackburn says, asking for organizations, businesses or individuals who would like to get involved to contact him directly at 250-923-0213 or by email at arts.council@crarts.ca.

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