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Grants give Okanagan arts students a lift in Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary

Bursaries brought back despite fewer patrons due to COVID-19 restrictions

Three local students are getting a boost in their artistic endeavours in school.

The Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre Society was able to award bursaries despite its 20th annual Birthday Bash celebration placed on hold for a second straight year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three recipients of $1,000 are Rachel Glessing of Coldstream; and Robyn Shanks and Emily Campbell, both of Vernon.

Families of each year’s recipients are traditionally invited and publicly recognized as part of pre-show ceremonies each fall at the Birthday Bash.

Glessing, a Kalamalka Secondary grad, is a fourth year student at the University of Calgary, having completed two years in a Bachelor of Music in Integrated Studies, combined with her Bachelor of Science (Biology), with two years left in her BMus degree program (trombone). Her courses include private lessons, brass choir ensemble, musicianship (ear training and sight-singing) and composition. She has a keen interest in music therapy and in future looks forward to studying music history, including ethnomusicology and Canadian music history, conducting, band instruction and interdisciplinary performing arts. She is also trained in piano and violin. Rachel has received numerous music awards, graduate scholarships and bursaries in recognition of her academic and artistic achievements. This is her second VDPAC Performing Arts Bursary.

Shanks, a graduate of Clarence Fulton Secondary, is a fourth year Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. After graduating, Robyn completed the Royal Conservatory Grade 9 piano exams and became involved in multiple theatre productions, including several with Powerhouse Theatre, Kelowna Actors Studio, Vernon Community Music School and later, UBCO Advanced Performance, Theatre 26 in Kelowna, BC, Actors Pulse Theatre and at UBC. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) from UBCO (2015), with extensive training in Music (Vocal & Piano) and Dance (Ballet, Hip Hop & Jazz). Her Acting courses include both Theatre and Film. Upon graduating next spring, Robyn plans to pursue career opportunities in Theatre, TV & Film.

Campbell, also a Fulton grad, is a fourth year Bachelor of Fine Arts (Theatre) at the University of Victoria, with a focus in applied theatre, (as an accessible art form), technical (lighting) and directing, while completing a minor in English. For UVic’s Phoenix Theatre, Emily has worked as a lighting operator and head electrician on several productions, and locally as a venue technician for Intrepid Theatre Company, host of the Victoria Fringe Festival. With her BFA, she plans to complete a Secondary Education degree for high school teaching. Her career plan is to become a high school theatre teacher.

“We have a very accomplished local community of theatre, dance and music school programs and private academies here, which signals how important the performing arts are to our emerging young artists,” VDPAC executive director Jim Harding said.

“We want to continue encouraging them with our bursary program to help them explore and develop careers. Live performance will return, so we will certainly need this coming year and the continued generosity of our supporters to help re-build our bursary fund to offer that support.”

Bursaries are made possible from the generous donations by patrons, tips collected at the coat check and the bar and concession; as well as specified, tax deductible donations and memorial gifts by donors and sponsors made throughout the year.

“This year, with the return of full public performances still delayed, we just introduced our audience cut-outs promotion as a fundraiser to help replenish our bursary program fund for 2021 and beyond,” Harding said.

Those wanting to support the program can visit to purchase an audience cut-out for a tax deductible donation. Cut-outs will help fill those seats the society cannot fill while public health orders limit indoor events to a maximum 50 per cent capacity.

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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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