For this month, WRAC highlights itself. Even though this organization has been around for a while, people still have questions. To help explain the arts council, here’s a brief overview of its origin, function, and goals.
In March of 2009, a group met to figure out how to develop a regional arts council and promote local visual, performing, and literary arts. After many meetings and lots of help from Winnipeg River Community Futures, the group made presentations to local communities. As a result, the towns of Powerview/Pine Falls and Lac du Bonnet, rural municipalities of Lac du Bonnet and Alexander, and local government district of Pinawa agreed to provide funding.
In 2011, WRAC incorporated as a non-profit and formed a ten-member board, with two individuals from each of the participating municipalities. Their first tasks: work on constitution and organizational structures, conduct an arts inventory. At present, board members attend monthly meetings, provide direction to the council, fundraise, and help out at events. Additional volunteers are recruited, as needed.
WRAC’S administrator, Jennifer Hudson Stewart, works in the Winnipeg River Community Futures Office in Lac du Bonnet (Tuesday and Thursday, from 9:00 until 12:00). She creates monthly newsletters, updates the Facebook page, and meets with local groups to promote the arts. She keeps track of finances, attends province-wide and Winnipeg workshops that support rural councils, and does the logistical groundwork to bring large events to the region.
She also organizes the rural youth mentorship program, which had paid six local artists to mentor local youth. If artists or organizations need assistance, she can answer questions, and help them write grants to support their projects. As many people know, funders are much more willing to provide financial assistance through an existing arts council.
WRAC’s main goal is to support local artists and arts organizations. Here’s a list of just some events it has partnered with or supported: 4P Festival, Fire &Water, Eastman Judged Arts Shows, Pinawa Art Gallery, Pinawa Players, Eastern Manitoba Concert Association, Boreal Shores Art Tour, photo exhibits, library events/displays, workshops, author readings, youth mentorships. Every month, WRAC highlights an artist or arts organizations via local media, newsletter, and website. Also, WRAC has brought four well-received Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre touring plays to Great Falls, Pinawa, and Lac du Bonnet.
On July 27, at 7:00 p.m., WRAC will host a national touring production called “Dreamcatchers” at Pinawa Community Centre. It is a free, family-friendly musical celebration of Canada 150 and features dozens of lively young performers. On December 9, a special seasonal show, the much-loved “Christmas Carol” will be presented at the Lac du Bonnet Community Centre, as a finale to the year-long 100th anniversary celebration.
In the future, WRAC hopes to add more communities, including First Nations, adjacent rural municipalities, and provincial parks east of Highway 11 and north of Highway 317. WRAC brochures are available throughout the region and membership is open to artists, citizens, arts organizations, and businesses. Members pay fees and have voting privileges at Annual General Meeting. Privileges include newsletter subscription and reduced rates for programs. Membership forms, with all the fees and categories listed, are available on WRAC website.
Local artists create quilts, books, paintings, fibre art, theatre, plays, videos, music, concerts, crafts, photography, wood carvings, sculpture, needlework, pottery, and much, much more. WRAC’s motto is “connecting people through art” and this organization is working hard to find, promote, and support all of these artists in as many ways as possible.