Curtis Pendleton will assume the role of executive director of the ACT Arts Centre in Maple Ridge in February. (Contributed)

New executive director of Maple Ridge arts centre starts in February

Curtis Pendleton wants to further connections in the community and expand community programming

The ACT Arts Centre in Maple Ridge has a new executive director.

Curtis Pendleton will be assuming her new role in February, filling the vacancy left by Lindy Sisson who departed in June.

Pendleton can’t contain her excitement for the new job and is looking forward to connecting with more groups in the community and expanding community programming.

“The ACT really is the life of the arts in that region and that’s really exciting to me,” said Pendleton.

“It really is the one stop for cultural programming in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. And, really, when you get down to it the whole region,” she said of the centre that attracts people from across the Lower Mainland.

Pendleton will be leaving her position as executive director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra School of Music. A position she has held for the past six years, building programs and engaging students.

“I feel very good about what’s happened here,” said Pendleton about her work with the VSO.

”It’s given me a lot of insight into how I might go about doing things at the ACT when I get into the program development there as well, and what we might be able to do to really have a greater reach in the community,” said Pendleton.

Pendleton grew up in Florida where both herself and her sister were exposed to the arts at a very young age. Both of them ended up pursuing a career in classical music and they both went to Juilliard, the prestigious performing arts school in New York City. From there Pendleton went to McGill University where she met her future husband.

“From there I thought I would end up being a player in an orchestra. And I was for the very beginning of my early working life,” said the orchestral flutist who soon realized that she had more interests than just classical music.

She left the performing field to explore other opportunities in the arts and moved quickly into a musical children’s theatre company which she helped to build into what she would like to call the gold standard for music outreach concerts in the United States during that time. They toured over a 26 state region annually and played at all the major arts centres.

Pendleton also took a job managing a summer music festival in California before moving back to Vancouver with her husband in 2010.

With a background centered around youth and children, one of Pendleton’s goals will be to pursue more robust family programming at the ACT.

“I think that is really important for families to share in those sorts of things. And as a mom myself, I know how important it is to share a cultural activity with your child,” said Pendleton who has one daughter.

Pendleton would also like to expand programming on the other side of life’s spectrum, seniors programming.

“That’s going to be, I feel like, my chief interest and job, looking into making connections with as many parts of the community as I can with the programming that’s happening at the ACT,” she explained, adding that she would like to see art have a deeper relevance in people’s lives.

Pendleton also thinks there may be a place in the ACT programming for incubating Canadian art as well as presenting it.

“I think Canada has such a jewel in Banff with the arts,” noted Pendleton.

“But Banff is pretty far from here,” she laughed explaining that she would like to explore how the ACT could play a role in bringing forth new opportunities for artists, not just presenting their work but creating it.

“I could see the centre having a bigger role in not just the province, but potentially in Canada for creating Canadian work,” said Pendleton.

Pendleton also wants to look at moving more of the ACT’s programs outside of the confines of the building itself and further out into the community.

“People shouldn’t always feel like they have to come down into the centre of town, that there might be things for them or their children or their grandchildren in other parts of the community,” she said.

Pendleton ultimately wants people to know that anyone coming to the ACT Arts Centre can expect excellence in programming.

“I don’t mean highfalutin, but engaged programming that really speaks to people. That we’ll continue to have a diversity of programming with theatre, music, visual arts, all of the different artistic disciplines that are represented by that beautiful building and the grounds around it,” she said.

“(The ACT) is really serving a much deeper and broader reach within its community,” said Pendleton about how the centre serves to keep the growing communities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows engaged.

“That should be happening in all of our communities, whether we are in a neighbourhood in Vancouver or a smaller town,” said Pendleton.

“We have to keep that social and cultural conversation going.”

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