Gateway Gazette

Big Changes for Okotoks Arts Council

It was standing room only at the Okotoks Art Gallery March 1, as members of the 2017 Okotoks Arts Council voted to increase the board from six directors, to 14, including four new executive members.

“It is an exciting time for The Arts in Okotoks as our community continues to grow and change. The demand for a more culturally oriented community with a range of facilities has always been desired by the many artists from all genres who live and work in the area. The push for change is now being driven additionally by a primarily younger demographic and the creative economies they choose to engage in.” Cheryl Taylor, incoming OAC President

Created in 1981, the OAC comprises a dedicated group of volunteers, many artists themselves, who work closely with the Town of Okotoks to sponsor events like the current Children’s Festival and the Concert Series at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre. OAC has seen the purchase and renovation of the Okotoks Art Gallery and RPAC, has hosted an international sculpture symposium, subsidized students and organized interactive community art initiatives in the spirit of grass roots, hands on community engagement. Our current program, Project Synergy, is gaining momentum toward the study of a major performing arts venue for Okotoks and area under the umbrella of the OAC.

“To accomplish what the OAC has on the backs of a typically small group of volunteers with minimal funding is nothing short of miraculous. It speaks wholly of the passion and commitment that comes when people love what they do and the community in which they live.” Cheryl Taylor

The OAC Board has grown to accommodate Okotoks’ growth, responding to the need for a broader skill set of various professionals.

New board members include:
• Mark Congram, former VP Finance of Nexen Energy, is the new OAC Treasurer.
• Debra Johnstone, a Partner at Cenera Energy as well as a former board member of Theatre Calgary.
• Jody Sanderson brings a 30 year background in journalism, municipal government experience with Oakville Town Council, Ontario as well as Arts experience as former President of the Oakville Arts Council.
• Terrence Meyers is a lawyer with McLean West, Okotoks and has always called a Okotoks home. Terry is now the Vice President of the OAC.
• Laura Sawatsky is a local mortgage broker with over 20 years experience as a paralegal.
• Arlene Westen Evans is the owner of Evanescence Art gallery in High River as well a multi disciplinary artist.
• Stuart Lloyd is a manager with the Alberta Energy Regulator as well as a professional opera singer in the Calgary Arts scene.

Returning board members include:
• Dale Fea, current Culture Parks and Rec Chair.
• Katie Fournell with the Okotoks Film Festival.
• Naydene Lewis, new OAC Secretary, former Okotoks Town Councillor and administrator of Okotoks Foothills Views and News.
• Shawna Koski, animation artist.
• Marg Smith, artist and organizer of Brushed With Flair art shows.
• Cheryl Taylor, new OAC President, teacher and artist.
• Robin Thibodeau, local artist and owner of Inspiration Studio.

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