A message from the Gabriola Arts Council Board of Directors
We have been blessed since mid March 2020 to have Carol Fergusson at our helm as Executive Director but at the end of this month Carol will be moving on to other opportunities. Carol started as GAC’s Executive Director on March 16; a week later the world shut down – COVID struck. At her first board meeting, Carol presented an incredible plan for working with our membership and donors to build the organization. However, it was soon clear it would not happen. Instead, using her endless creative talent, Carol created ongoing opportunities for us/the artists/the community/the islanders/and even those beyond our island’s shores to keep us connected with each other, to keep those active minds active with new ventures and adventures, and to thrive in this new foreign on-line format of engaging in the arts. Carol navigated GAC through those COVID days with programs to bring together the community, to bring sustenance to our artistic community, and richness to those who braved attendance once we were allowed to be present in person.
The last three years have been a whirlwind of excitement for the arts of Gabriola due in great part to Carol’s ability to access funding through grants from various government agencies. This funding gave us the ability to sustain a fulltime ED position and additional office team members over these last years. Her resourcefulness helped us continue our treasured Isle of the Arts Festival and Thanksgiving weekend Studio Tour as well as steering the evolution of the Cultivate Festival. Carol has worked at building connections between our various organizations here on our island as well as between the many facets of our artistic community. At the same time Carol has provided the opportunity to bring in the musical community through grants which allowed increased compensation for those artists at events that Carol devised as part of these grants.
Going forward, we – the ArtsCouncil Board of Directors – have acknowledged we need to regroup and reassess how we continue after the COVID times. Government funding, which Carol took full advantage of, allowed us the ability to stay afloat. However, present day availability of provincial and federal funding for arts-based organizations has become scarcer. Competition for grants has become fiercer and when successful the amounts have decreased. Over the past several months, the Board together with Carol and her team has been looking to the future through a lens of financial viability and assessing our capacity to sustain the organization. As a result, we have determined that we are unable to sustain our previous staffing levels and must restructure. We look forward to working with the team and our membership and fellow Gabriolans over the next year as we need to ensure that our core programs continue without interruption.
We will miss Carol and offer our sincere thanks and gratitude for all she has cultivated for the arts on Gabriola. We wish her the very best of success for whatever her future might bring.