Renate Fleming (left, with current arts council president Theshini Naicker) says the Rossland Arts Council is looking at changing it focus to be more of an umbrella arts organization in the community. Photo: John Boivin

Rossland Arts Council looks to future after 20 years of arts promotion

Anniversary party planned for Saturday night at Miner’s Hall

Just like any 20 year old, the Rossland Community Arts Council is considering what’s in store for its future after meeting that milestone.

“It’s all so exciting now, as we are redefining our role a little bit in the community,” says Renate Fleming, a founding member of the RCAC.

Fleming says a lot has changed in the two decades since the council formed.

“Twenty years ago there wasn’t much here, there was no organization making art happen in Rossland,” she says. “Now we have a lot more going on, people moving in, creating music, making art, we have more galleries and shows, and other initiatives around art that didn’t exist then.”

The initial excitement came from being able to have a local arts council promoting the local community, rather than relying on a regional body, she says. And the first iteration of the council in 1998 quickly identified its priorities.

“One of our first meetings got all the stakeholders at the Miners’ Hall with a facilitator, and we asked people what they thought an arts council should be doing,” recalls Fleming. “It was unanimously decided we wanted a centre for the arts, where arts could happen. So we started to focus on the Miners’ Hall.

It was the first grant the council applied for, and last year, after nearly 20 years’ work, the project was finally completed.

“We wanted to have concerts, art shows, etc. It took off from there and we have been doing it more than 20 years. It was our lofty dream that got realized.”

With a more robust arts community in Rossland, Fleming says the council is looking at changing its role in the community.

“Rather than making it all happen by ourselves, we may begin to engage with the city on public art plans, and become more of a voice for the arts in general,” she says.

“My passion is to see public art being made more visible to residents and visitors, that people can see there is a vibrant arts community, there are people here who care for the arts, who are thinking about the arts, creating the arts and positioning the arts to have more of a role in town. That Rossland isn’t just recreation or sports.”

To do that, Fleming says RCAC will work to gather visual artists, recreation organizations, music and dance groups, businesses, the ski hill, trail societies and other groups to talk about how the arts can play more of a role in their organizations.

“I can see us having a role more as an umbrella organization and facilitating that process,” she says. “Together with other organizations, the arts council can certainly play a role in that.”

But before all that happens, it’s time to celebrate.

The arts council is bringing in a band — The Devils You Don’t — for a show at the Miners’ Hall this Saturday. There are other events over the weekend, including an exhibition of local art and a reception to thank its members and the community. The reception will take place in the Lily May Room on Friday at 7 p.m. The art exhibition will also be open to the public on Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s a celebration with the community, including a community dance where everyone comes out and has some fun,” says Fleming.

Sounds like a good way to turn 20.

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