In 2009 the vast Cariboo Regional District became the first rural British Columbia Regional District to develop an arts and culture function, passing a bylaw allocating tax revenue specifically to arts and culture. The Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society was formed in 2010 as a BC registered nonprofit society, with a mandate not only to administer this function, but also to serve the many existing independent cultural organizations and events and to facilitate the development of arts and culture in the region.
The Society takes seriously the notion of assisting the development of the arts—not simply supporting the status quo—and one important means of doing this is our administration of an annual small project grants program. In three years, this initiative has seen a number of innovative ideas bear fruit. We also oversee the annual Canada Day Celebrations and Performances in the Park events and we recently developed the Central Cariboo Art Route, a year-round, self-guided studio tour of the Central Cariboo region.
In a related initiative, the City of Williams Lake, together with the Regional District, redeveloped its old fire hall as the Central Cariboo Arts Centre in the city’s downtown. Managed by the Society, this facility provides studio space to tenant groups (Williams Lake Spinners, Weavers and Fibre Artists’ Guild, the Cariboo Potters’ Guild and the Cariboo Art Society) and contains performance and meeting spaces for the broader arts community. Building use has increased markedly since its opening and we now host a rich variety of activities and events and are delighted to see frequent drop-ins from the community and beyond.
The Society is currently working with the city and the Regional District to revise and renew the way they allocate operating funds to arts and culture organizations. We see this as an important step to ensure we can work effectively within the local government context and continue to serve the cultural enrichment of the Central Cariboo region.
To learn more about the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society, visit their website.