While leafing through three scrap books that chronicle the history of the arts council, Molly Falcon smiles with pride.
She notices the photographs of the folks who’ve been around for years, the artists who gone on to world-wide success.
“We have a lot of people with fantastic talent,” says Falcon, who has been a member of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Arts Council for the past 11 years and remembers the performances it hosted in the “Little Brick Church”.
A community institution for the past 40 years, the arts council has grown much since first incorporated as a society called the Community Arts Council of T’Lagunna in 1971. T’Lagunna is First Nations word for “Golden Ears”, the majestic mountain peaks that mark the horizon.
As a non-profit society governed by a volunteer board of directors, the arts council is dedicated to “Bringing Arts to the Heart of Our Community”.
Since 2003, the arts council has managed The Arts Centre and Theatre and in 2005 took on the operations of the Maple Ridge Art Gallery.
Falcon realizes many people who marvel at the Arts Centre and Theatre, featured prominently in the district’s downtown core, don’t know of its tumultuous history.
It opened its doors in May 2003, following more than 13 years of lobbying by the arts community.
The 43,000-square-foot building was the district’s first multi-purpose arts centre, incorporating facilities for both performing and visual arts.
Initially turned down in a 1990 referendum, the notion was revived in 1997 when Maple Ridge council included an arts centre in its downtown redevelopment plans.
It features a 500-seat main stage theatre, 165-seat multi-purpose studio theatre, an art gallery, meeting rooms and a variety of studio space for visual artists.
The equipment was paid for by a fund-raising campaign that attracted $2.2 million in sponsorships, pledges, donations and grants.
“It was an interesting exercise to go through,” says arts council director Candace Gordon when asked about the referendum that drew vocal voices both for and against the proposal.
“In retrospect, I think we are lucky that it wasn’t successful because we look at other facilities now that are attached to schools going through problems. Our independent theatre is much better.”
Gordon, a former president of the arts council, hopes people continue to support the ACT and the programs its runs with the parks and leisure services.
“Go take an art class, see a show. All that income supports programming and the building itself,” says Gordon. “If you feel inclined, we are open to donations. We are still trying to build a really strong arts community.”
• The arts council hosts a 40th anniversary dinner and dance at the Pitt Meadows Golf Course on Oct. 21. Get tickets at The Act.
Arts council 2010-2011
• President:Fred Armstrong
• Vice President: Bonnie Telep
• Secretary: Mike Murray
• Treasurer: Diane Daignault
• Past President: Roger Welch
• Directors: Charles Ellman, Molly Falcon, Candace Gordon, Nigel Harvey, Sandy Mayes, Vicki McLeod