Sustainability just got a little easier for the groups and individuals who recently attended a seminar at the Riverside Theatre over the weekend of September 17 and 18. It was the first time Princeton had hosted a seminar of its type. Riverside Theatre was busy with community minded individuals who were looking for some tips, skills and valuable tools to not just continue to run their organization, but to help it thrive.
The B.C. Arts Sustainability Seminar was hosted by the Princeton Arts Council through Arts BC and Heritage Canada. Executive Director of Arts BC, Sheryl McGraw, brought with her a competent team of like-minded individuals whose drive to help culture in B.C. has led them all on a career path in the art industry working with non-profit organizations, societies and individuals. Each presenter brought with her a unique set of talents to help the participants weed through the at times confusing world of fund-raising with a solid workable foundation.
Kathleen Speakman presented on the process of becoming sustainable. While Sandra Thomson, continued delving into formula for an effective board and sustainable plan. Lori Baxter’s expertise as both a grant writer and grant juror was an invaluable part of the mix. The team were experienced, knowledgeable and easy to converse with making the weekend seminar not only knowledge packed, but fun.
On Sunday, after the Saturday session of information packed hours, it was time for the attendees to put their new found knowledge to work with the very competent help from their talented coaches. Individuals were asked to join up with other eager students from the same groups to discuss an upcoming project or necessary phase they had identified as crucial to the health of their organization. The participants then worked together to come up with a plausible 12 week plan to move the group towards their ultimate goal. After one hour of coaching and hard work, the participants reported their project plans to the entire assembly for feedback and hands on practice.
Throughout the weekend, the thirty participants were continually asked to evaluate their individual organization looking for areas that needed improvement and areas where they were reaching success. While some organizations were relatively new, others were looking for new direction and new focus in their experienced group. McGraw and her team were able to do that in a very focused manner presenting examples, hands on assignments and a fresh twist on some difficulties faced by almost every not for profit organization.
Saturday the seminar was followed with a reception held in the museum. Thomasina’s catered the weekend seminar with coffee, tea, fruit, muffins, lunch and scrumptious appetizers. The reception included a wine tasting from Forbidden Fruit Winery and Rustic Roots.
Princeton Arts Council Society president, Del Hall was thrilled with the turn-out and with the expertise that these dynamic women brought forth. She thanked McGraw, Speakman, Baxter and Thomson for their time and competence. Hall also recognized Recreation coordinator Nadine McEwen for her contribution to the society. “Nadine is so much a part of how we function in this space. When the school closed in 2003 and we moved in, in 2005, we really had no idea where we would end up. Nadine and I would wave at one another as we passed by in the halls, now I don’t know what we would do without her.”
Hall relayed the fortune that the Riverside Centre has brought to both the Arts Society and the community. “Robin did an incredible job with the Spirit Festival…who would have though we would be having a PowWow within these walls?”
“The Princeton Traditional Music Festival with Jon and Rika has brought a new energy to Princeton and we are grateful,” continued Hall, “and we were so pleased to see Chelsea and River Road Theatre utilizing the space for their plays. Riverside Centre has become much more than a place we hold meetings.”
Mayor McLean found the weekend very useful. “In a way we are a funding agency for the arts in our community, but we also try to access funding agencies. Part of the reason a good organization works is because they are organized and maintaining a high level of transparency. I think this process is extremely helpful to these groups and will result in some more worthwhile projects from our very industrious volunteers.” “I found a quote I like about art that I thought was worth sharing with you, “Culture is virtually everything we do that the monkeys don’t.”
McGraw graciously thanked her hosts for their part in the weekend’s resounding success. “Thank-you for a truly delightful weekend,” she said. “From Canadian Heritage to the B.C. Arts Council who we owe thanks for the funding to our wonderful hosts, we have to say, we have really enjoyed ourselves. Marjorie, Del and Robin…you made us feel at home. Mayor Randy and councillor Marilyn…you have shown culture in your community great support with your presence. Sharon…thank-you for helping us learn a few things about your community before our arrival and thank-you to my team who I chose because I knew they would deliver. This has been a wonderful weekend.”