Okotoks Arts Council (OAC)
OAC Board & Members 2013
Janifer Calvez- Vice President
Myrna Campbell- Treasurer
Cheryl Taylor- Director
Doug Howard- Director
Shirley Paradis- Director
Robin Thibodeau- Member
Rick Harding- Member
Russ Wheatley- Member
Marg Smith- Member
OAC Board & Members 2011
Stephen Pope - President
Sandra Neill - Vice-President
Robin Thibodeau - Secretary
Dale Fea - Treasurer
Shirley Paradis, Director & Past-President
Janifer Calvez, Director & Past-President
Sara Shruger-Thibodeau, Director
Melody Enman, Director
Myrna Campbell, Member & Past-President
Ross Breadner, Member
Simon Gibson, Member
Cheryl Taylor, Member
OAC History and Vision
In 1979 the Town of Okotoks purchased the CPR train station for $1.00 and commenced implementation of a plan to create an arts and culture centre for the community. The first task was to create the Okotoks Arts Council which was to be responsible for the day-to-day operation of The Station Culture Centre as well as the development of programs to heighten the profile of visual and performing arts in the community. The Arts Council, composed of an 11-member volunteer board, was officially registered as a not-for-profit Alberta Society on February 6, 1981.
The Station opened September 18, 1981 after $204,000 in renovations paid for by the Town, provincial grants, M.D. of Foothills, Devonian Foundation and fund-raising efforts by the Okotoks Arts Council. The facility was operated by the OAC’s volunteer Board until 1988 when a decision was made to hand the operational responsibility over to the Town.
As a result of that decision, the role of the OAC became solely focused on development and implementation of art and culture programs for the community, most of which were still delivered through the Station.
In the first three decades of its existence, the OAC expended a lot of its volunteers’ time and effort in raising funds to help preserve some of the town’s historical buildings for repurposing as venues to make art and culture available to the community.
In 2003 the OAC raised money and donated a significant amount of volunteer labour for adding a kitchen facility onto the Station. This was necessary to continue hosting functions in the facility.
In 2004 a group of townspeople contacted the OAC to help save the United Church on the corner of Centre Avenue and Elma Street for repurposing as a performing arts centre. In a short period of 10 months, the specially-formed fundraising committee secured enough funds and volunteer labour to purchase, refurbish and reopen the Church as a performing arts centre. Funding was obtained from government grants, donations from local arts and culture groups, local service clubs, private individuals and the Town of Okotoks. The centre was name after its major donor, the Okotoks Rotary Club. On completion of the purchase and refurbishment, the Rotary Performing Arts Centre (RPAC) was gifted to the Town of Okotoks.
In the past the OAC has been largely responsible for securing the “bricks and mortar” to realize its vision of making arts and culture accessible to the community. Moving into our fourth decade and beyond, we are concentrating on developing and promoting cultural activities in the community that are increasingly recognized as critical elements for a healthy society.
Part of achieving this goal was collaborating with the Town of Okotoks and other community groups and citizens to develop a Culture, Heritage and Art Master Plan (CHAMP) which was adopted by the Town in 2010. Our ongoing objective is to work with Town administration, local businesses, service clubs, artists groups and the community to implement the vision of the “Master Plan” through three initiatives:
1. CONNECT our community through a central hub for arts and cultural events. Grow the OAC membership using CHAMP connections and targets. Partner with the Town of Okotoks to promote ongoing festivals and programs and identify other opportunities to connect our community.
2. INSPIRE our community through leadership of the OAC in creating a dynamic cultural atmosphere. Ignite interest and build leadership teams responsible for activities identified by the OAC. Harness Okotoks’ Olde Towne atmosphere, historic charm and uniqueness to create a dynamic cultural setting.
3. EDUCATE our community through the sponsorship of cultural programs, festivals and other activities. Expose all generations to Okotoks’ culture and promote through schools as well as community programs. Every member of the OAC is an ambassador for culture in Okotoks. We aim to grow the cultural energy using technology, social media and word-of-mouth.
A long-term goal of the OAC is to demonstrate the need for developing a regional Cultural Centre. In order to achieve this goal, the OAC is working toward demonstrating the economic impact on the community of cultural, recreational and tourism activities. The OAC would like to showcase Okotoks as both an amazing place to live and a unique cultural destination.
Our goals can only be achieved with the involvement of all sectors of the community. To help us realize our vision for the community, we welcome new members from a diversity of backgrounds.