Strengthening our arts and cultural life in the region

Task force preparing planning document

Members of the cultural planning task force met on February 8 to begin the process of preparing a vision for the future of the arts and culture of the Sooke region. Pictured are Judy Gilligan

Task force preparing planning document

The arts and cultural life of the Sooke region, stretching from Beecher Bay to Port Renfrew, is up for review.

A group of about 25 volunteers involved in the cultural life of the community have come together to discuss, work on and produce a final report on the state of the arts and culture in the region — a vision for the future.

Based on the responses from the Arts Wave survey conducted last year, the Sooke Region Cultural Planning Task force has made it their mission to produce a cultural resource map which would be used by organizations, the District of Sooke, the JDF electoral area and others when applying for grants. The committee will have a planning document which would be useful for the next three years.

“The planning document will seek to find solutions to common problems, express concerns and explore options,” said Sooke Fine Arts Society representative Evonne Black who is coordinating and chairing the meetings. “That is what we are trying to achieve.”

There is no plan in the works for any type of arts centre, building or gallery, although this may be identified as a long-term goal.

Grants were obtained for the task and volunteers are being used, except for Sarah Temple from the district municipal office who is being paid to take care of the administrative end of things. The grant money will be used for the production of the report.

“We are working on a cultural plan for the entire community,” said Black.

Black stressed that they would “be honest and open in all our communications,” and they will “seek and instill a sense of common ownership in the plan.”

A broad spectrum of folks from across the arts and cultural palette of Sooke and region are on board.

The task force is made up of an array of community members including representatives from such groups as the Shirley Community Association, Sooke Arts Council, Sooke Folk Music Society, Carole Cave Dance Studio, Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra Society, the longboats, Edward Milne Community School and others.

The report will include aspects of the region’s economic drivers, venues, and people resources as well as its needs and wants. The hope is that when the District of Sooke is putting together its budget, they will take input from the arts and cultural community.

“In the end we are trying to influence decisions made in the community regarding arts and culture with a joint voice, if there is money to spend,” said Black.

The task force will be looking to the residents of the Sooke region to be a part of the final report. There will be a photography contest and shutterbugs can have their photographs published in the final report. The stipulation is that the digital photo be taken this year and it has to be of an arts/cultural event or performance. More details to follow at a later date.

All of the planning meetings are open to the public.