Bringing the Penticton arts community together

The latest Arts Matter column from Penticton and District Community Arts Council executive director Vaelei Walkden-Brown.

  • Oct. 18, 2016 4:00 p.m.
Vaelei Walkden-Brown

Vaelei Walkden-Brown

I’m writing from my desk at the Leir House, with the sound of a piano lesson coming through the ceiling from the room upstairs.

In my few short weeks working in this building, the ambient experiences such as this are becoming more familiar and appreciated.

I have had a wide array of people come and sit across from me at my desk.  Most of these people come to discuss their work or ideas, with the hopes of help and support from the Council.

Artist Joy Whitley Syskakis shared her plans for a new hand-drawn colouring book that will feature Penticton businesses, iconic places and historical buildings including the Leir House.  A visit from Irwin Hobden was very inspiring and educational. Irwin is an extremely talented woodworker who has lost most of his vision — but not his skill and passion for creating.  We discussed the importance of a unified arts community — this is a recurring theme right now, and probably one of utmost importance to our creative community.

With this in mind, The Penticton & District Community Arts Council has now begun more focused and detailed planning of our First Annual Penticton Arts & Culture Festival.  Scheduled for September 2017, this will be a three-day, multi-venue, community-wide event.  It will be a combination of performances, exhibitions, classes, presentations, interactive displays, art battles, a Pecha Kucha night, and ARTwear — a wearable arts show, making its second-year return.  The festival will also feature contributions of culinary arts, music, visual and performing arts, spoken word, plays, theater performances, film production, photography and creative writing. The central theme for this festival is active commentary on the state of the arts related to the importance of arts, culture and creativity to the individual, the community and its critical contribution to economic development.

Our vision is that this first year of SOAP will unite our creative community, gain the attention and respect from local and provincial government and provide both short term and long term economic growth for our community.

Another part of our vision is to embrace a multi-cultural, multi ethnic approach and with a strong focus on building our relationship with our First Nations community. A festival such as this will also bring the visions of artists such as Joy Whitley Syskaksis and Irwin Hobden into greater clarity and give them much needed exposure.

The planning and success of such a large scale event requires a great deal of support.  In order to do so, we need your help.  We are in competition for an

AVIVA Community Fund — to win, we need votes!  If you would like to see the arts really come alive in Penticton next year, please go to the AVIVA Community Fund webpage where you can cast your votes.  Every vote counts. We hope we can count on yours. Find the project online here.

We look forward to sharing our progress with you.  If you would like to be involved please email

In the meantime, our Annual General Meeting will take place Monday, Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. at The Leir House Cultural Centre.  Feel free to join us, and you can meet our board and hear more of what we have in store.

Vaelei Walkden-Brown is the executive director of the Penticton and District Community Arts Council.