Long-time Campbell River Hospice Society board member and current board advisor Helen Garson, board vice president Leslie Palmer and Ken Blackburn, executive director of the Campbell River Arts Council, announced the installation of 20 works of original art from the arts council’s collection of donations at the new Hospice House on Evergreen Road in October, just one of many initiatives the arts council was involved in last year. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

It’s an important year for the arts in Campbell River

Arts council exec says he expects 2018 will be a great year for arts in our community

Ken Blackburn says 2018 could be very important for arts and culture in Campbell River.

Blackburn is the executive director of the Campbell River Arts Council, the director of public programs at the Museum at Campbell River and sits on various arts boards and committees in the region – like the city’s public art committee.

He says 2017 was one of the best years yet, and 2018 looks to continue that trend.

The arts council, he says, completed many of its goals last year, including somehow actually managing to get 150 community banners made in celebration of Canada 150, “which was amongst the biggest 150 projects on the Island, involved 15 schools and a whole bunch of artists, First Nations, community events like Canada Day and Live Streets, and it was really a pleasure to oversee,” he says.

They also oversaw the installation of a whole bunch of art in the new hospital.

“There are two realities when it comes to the hospital, in terms of art,” Blackburn says. “The first is the ongoing programming that we’re carrying over from the old facility and continuing, and then there are the new works in the lobby and the Gathering Place, along the walls of the café, on the third floor, in the elevator waiting area and in the chemo treatment area.

That was certainly one of our marquis accomplishments in 2017 and it was the culmination of many years of working on it, so it was nice to finally see come to fruition.”

They also managed the process of getting art for the new water treatment facility, scheduled to open in February, as well as maintaining their arts programming with the Head Injury Support Society, Family Services and others. They also donated art to the Campbell River Hospice and painted Sybil Andrews’ Cottage inside and out. They hosted Raffi and Damien Gillis for the 8th Annual Haig-Brown Lecture and actively participated in various community and educational events such as the Haig-Brown Fall Festival.

If there was anything Blackburn would call disappointing on the year, it’s their failure to get the Sybil Andrews graphic novel published.

“The graphic novel, unfortunately, due to the health of the artist, Laura Ellyn, was delayed,” Blackburn says. “But she’s back working on it again and we’re hopeful it will be complete and published early in the year. I mean, what can you do about people getting ill?”

But art in the community isn’t all about what the arts council accomplishes – or doesn’t – Blackburn admits.

“I think most importantly is that, overall, there’s getting to be a really good level of appreciation for the arts here now,” he says. “People are really starting to recognize the potential for arts and culture to have an impact in their lives in positive ways. There’s a buoyancy these days, and the city itself is on-board, which is really nice.”

Blackburn says the city’s announcement during financial planning deliberations to create an overarching master plan for determining the future of public art is encouraging as the community moves forward.

“That will be a huge deal in 2018, because it’s an essential piece of building public art capacity within town,” Blackburn says. “I’m excited to see what the city comes up with, not just in terms of that plan but in terms of arts delivery in general, and we look forward to partnering with them wherever we can in whatever initiatives they prioritize.

“It’s a really exciting time for arts in Campbell River.”

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