May is membership month for the Community Arts Council of Port Alberni. It’s time for people to come out and support the arts, said Bonnie Brandner, chair of the council’s membership committee.
Last year, the council had 250 members. They would like to see more this year, arts administrator Gareth Flostrand said.
Although memberships can be purchased throughout the year, there is added incentive to sign up or renew in May: members will have their names put into a draw for one of three prizes, which include gift certificates and a gift basket from the Alberni Valley Museum. A membership also gets patrons a discount at the Rollin Art Centre gift shop and puts them on the e-mail list for notification of upcoming events.
Personal invitations to exhibit receptions are also a perk.
Brandner is a photographer specializing in landscape and art photography. She joined the arts council two years ago in order to support the arts in Port Alberni. “We’re not just the Ultimate Fishing Town,” she said. “We are also an arts town.”
She was surprised, she said, to talk to many artists on the Days With the Arts Studio Tour last month who weren’t aware of the arts council and the role it has in supporting artists in the region.
“It’s a very uplifting feeling to know we have so many wonderful artists here in Port Alberni,” Brandner said.
Membership in the arts council gives artists an opportunity to have a show at the Rollin too.
Memberships have a practical use as well, Flostrand said. The B.C. Arts Council looks at how relevant an arts council is to a community when it issues operating grants. And the BCAC grant is the main support for Port Alberni’s council.
“They look at (membership) and they look at the diversity: individuals, businesses and groups,” she said. Community support of projects also plays into whether they get their grant, which is the only one of its kind from the BCAC. It is never the same amount, which makes it difficult to set a budget.
“Everything else is pretty much project-oriented.”
Having the public support such projects as the Rotary Arts District and the annual banner project is vital to the local arts council’s sustainability, she added. So is the public’s support in the arts council’s many fundraisers, such as the biennial studio and garden tours and the annual book sale (which is coming up Saturday, May 14 at Echo Centre).
“There are 77 or 79 arts councils in B.C. There are cultural places that are also eligible (for grants),” Flostrand said. “You’re fighting for every dollar. So the more members you have, the more relevant you become.”
Partnerships such as the one the local arts council enjoys with Rotary are important, she said, adding that they would not be able to operate without those relationships.
Arts are important to a community, Flostrand added. “Art makes everybody very well-rounded. You’ve got to know who you are and where you come from to be successful, and art does that. The majority of us have that arts and culture background,” from playing in a school band to the simple act of a child drawing a picture that is hung on a refrigerator.
“That’s an early expression of art,” she said.
Anyone wishing to join the arts council can pick up a membership package at the Rollin Art Centre, located at the corner of Argyle Street and Eighth Avenue. The cost is $10 for seniors, $15 for adults and $20 for families. Group, small business and corporate rates are also available.
Volunteers will also have tables set up at three consecutive Saturday community events: May 7 at the Heritage Fair at Echo Centre; May 14 at Echo Centre at the giant book sale; and May 21 at the Harbour Quay Farmer’s Market.
For more information, go online to www.portalberniarts.com or phone the Rollin Art Centre at 250-724-3412.