A small group of parents are hoping to make a big impact on the arts in Port Alberni. Specifically, they want to increase opportunities for youth in both the performing and visual arts. Starting off slowly, they hope to see the momentum grow, recruit new volunteers and provide the public with a variety of things to see and do.
Funding Alberni Valley Arts Society (FAVAS) was formed in December 2014, originally by a few parents of dancers from Elite Dance Academy.
“We wanted to see all community dancers and youth come together to support all of the arts, like music, vocals, band and art,” said Sara Fox, FAVAS president. “We started by incorporating the society so we can provide more to the community.”
Initial outreach of the group garnered support and membership from representatives of Stages Youth Program and the Capitol Theatre.
One of the directors, Jenny Wallman, said she has seen her own daughter get a lot out of dance, a commitment that takes up much of her time, but this is a way to introduce new disciplines that she might not otherwise have a chance to learn.
“I like the idea that we are making connections with other dance studios and galleries,” Wallman said. “It is an opportunity to open up to other arts.”
Director Tana Cole also has an active dance family and understands the expenses that go along with it.
“We want to be able to help families that can’t afford it,” Cole said. “We see it similar to KidSport but for the performing arts.”
One thing that helps generate income for the group’s goals is their volunteer-run store, Second Position Dance Consignment, which relies on donations and offers costumes, shoes and dance wear.
For now, money raised is going towards operating costs of FAVAS, but members have visions for the future.
“We have big plans and dreams,” Fox said. “We would like to see Port Alberni bring in a festival and we have talked about putting on a variety show as a fundraiser. It would have dancers from all the studios, piano, band, vocals and theatre.”
The group also intends to be able to offer scholarships and bursaries, as well as a variety of workshops.
Like many non-profit organizations, this one is run by families who all work full-time and it takes time to get established.
“That is where we are open to new members,” Fox said.
“More hands make little work,” Cole agreed.