Bill Usher

Symposium aims to Rev up local arts and culture scene

Revving up Revelstoke's Arts and Cultural Life: A Symposium for the Community is being held to give people a chance to be more involved in the culture in the community, including fine arts, performing arts, literary arts, visual arts, cultural activities and events like the summer music series in Grizzly Plaza.

The state of arts and culture in Revelstoke will be the subject of a day of a symposium at the Regent Hotel this Tuesday, June 14.

Revving up Revelstoke’s Arts and Cultural Life: A Symposium for the Community is being held to give people a chance to be more involved in the culture in the community, including fine arts, performing arts, literary arts, visual arts, cultural activities and events like the summer music series in Grizzly Plaza.

The day begins at 3 p.m. with a workshop titled “Shifting Revelstoke’s Arts & Cultural Planning into High Gear.” Led by consultants Doris Haas and Caroline Miller, the workshop will provide participants with a draft vision, goals and strategies for discussion and revision. These will form the basis for a new cultural strategy for Revelstoke.

At 5:30 p.m. the Revelstoke Arts Council will hold its annual general meeting.

The centrepiece of the day will be the keynote address at 6 p.m. by Bill Usher, the executive director of Golden-based Kicking Horse Culture. His talk will be about how KHC went from 35 members and a budget of $50,000 to 650 members and a budget of $380,000 in six years.

“It takes a lot of hard work on the part of a community’s cultural workers to front-load the effort to make significant community change,” said Usher in a news release. “Then it takes a receptivity and a willingness on the part of elected officials and staff to provide operating support so those cultural workers won’t burn out. What comes next is a big win-win for all.”

KHC was founded in 2004 when the Golden District Arts Council Society re-branded itself. In 2006 it signed an agreement with the Town of Golden and Rural Golden for $60,000 in annual operating funds to help grow the organization. Over the years, that amount has increased to the numbers it enjoys now. It was also able to parlay $1 million in third-party funding into the re-birth of the $2.6 million Golden Civic Centre.

“These past few years, KHC/GDACS has developed a professional, dependable approach and created new initiatives and vibrant cultural programming that our community has embraced with excitement and enthusiasm,” said Ron Oszust, CSRD Electoral Area A director of Rural Golden. “The more they do, the more we want them to do. Local government’s commitment of $80,000 generates a 4:1 plus annual return on our investment.”

Usher’s presentation will look at how KHC gained $80,000 in local government support and used that to grow the organization. A question and answer session will follow his talk and there will be an informal reception for all attendees afterwards.

The cultural strategy update is a component of the City of Revelstoke’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan. Once the master plan is adopted, likely in June or July, the cultural strategy will then be developed further. In the meantime, development of the culture plan is ongoing, including the June 14 event.

At the city’s May 17 town hall meeting, Parks, Recreation and Culture director Kerry Dawson explained that the cultural strategy was something that she was looking to enhance and elevate to be more on par with the parks and recreation aspects of her portfolio.

“Once the master plan is there, the cultural strategy becomes part of the master plan,” she said. “One of the things that I am absolutely thrilled with [is] one of the major recommendations of the [master plan] as it presently exists is that it contains a component recommending that the culture strategy for Revelstoke be updated.”

“I also call culture the face of our community,” Dawson said. “The culture plan will have independent status apart from the master plan and will go to council for adoption independently.”

At the May 17 meeting, Coun. Chris Johnston noted director Dawson’s interest and emphasis on the arts and culture component of her job. “I know Kerry has a real interest … I think you will see some good results,” he said. “It’s not going to happen in June, but I am optimistic that we will actually have it as a real integral part of our official community plan before long.”

To register for the workshop or symposium, e-mail

To complement the symposium, feedback is being sought through an online survey. You can complete it by clicking here:



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