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Originally formed as Festival Gabriola Society on April 15, 1997, the organization became the Gabriola Arts Council in October 2006. The Gabriola Arts Council is a not-for-profit society under BC’s Society’s Act, and a charitable organization under the federal Charities Directorate.
According to a 2011 Hills Strategy Research study conducted on behalf of the Canada Council for the Arts, Gabriola Island ranks sixth across Canada with respect to concentration of artists in the local workforce (5.8% compared to the national average of 0.8%). Every day is a celebration of the arts on this “Isle of the Arts” and in this community of writers, actors, poets, painters, dancers, musicians, sculptors and potters. Artists are an important part of the island’s economic and social engine, and the Gabriola Arts Council (GAC) is committed to growing this sector through building audiences, and by increasing accessibility of the arts to people of all ages and interests. GAC supports local artists in all mediums and at all levels, while ensuring that local residents have opportunities to engage with art and artists, and that off-island communities are aware of our rich artistic resources.
The importance of the arts in community and individual development—both social and economic—has been well documented. Numerous studies of rural communities indicate that the arts stimulate economic growth and improve the quality of life. In recognition of this—and through our passion for the arts—GAC’s mandate is to foster and facilitate greater public awareness and understanding of, and participation in, the arts; to encourage and mentor artists at all levels to achieve excellence; to broaden the base of public and private support for the arts; to serve as the primary local resource for information about the arts; to encourage cooperation among arts and other community organizations; to stimulate economic vibrancy through promotion of Island arts; and to take the lead in the promotion of innovative and diverse culture-led economic development.
The Gabriola Arts Council is an established and respected organization in our community. We value and encourage community engagement, while fostering connections between and within community organizations. We host three annual art events—Isle of the Arts Festival, Gabriola Theatre Festival, and Thanksgiving Tour and Festival—while managing our year-round Healing Power of Arts program. We run arts-related programs in our elementary school, and collaborate regularly with local non-profits and community groups. We have collaborated in or contributed to the creation of other arts-related events throughout the years such as the Gabriola Poetry Festival, musical performances and concerts, workshops and other educational forums. The Council provides funding and fundraising opportunities for the Gabriola Elementary School’s art and music programs, and to individual artists and arts events on the island.