Gabriola Arts Council

GAC Gives Back!

GAC Gives Back!

GAC Gives Back!

GAC Gives Back!

Who Is GAC?

The Gabriola Arts Council is a community arts council that provides arts and cultural services to the Gabriola community for more than 20 years. We organize three big cultural festivals each year (Isle of the Arts Festival, Gabriola Theatre Festival, Thanksgiving Studio Tour).

We also run a Healing Power of Art program that provides art therapy programming at no charge to community members. This program has had positive, life-changing difference in the lives of many Gabriolans.

Our Vision is a creative, engaged, and inclusive community sustaining Gabriola’s vibrant island culture. Click here to see our complete Strategic Plan.

Our Mission is to engage, enhance, and inspire the community’s cultural vitality through collaboration, leadership, and service.

Based on the events and programming we offer, the BC Arts Council considers GAC to be one of the top five performing community arts councils in the province. We need secure and stable revenue sources—membership fees, donations, grants, and ticket revenue—to ensure that we can continue to offer high-level programming.

In 2017, GAC was awarded the Community Stewardship Award in recognition of 20 years of supporting and enhancing the artistic, cultural, and social environment of Gabriola and Mudge Islands.

GAC is a volunteer-driven organization, that is overseen by a hardworking volunteer board of directors. More than 100 regular volunteers provide support for our events and programs.

We have more than 750 members on Gabriola and Mudge Islands. Our membership includes artists in all disciplines and practices, and many of our members are non-artists who support the work GAC does in the community and want to be part of what we do.


Here are the many ways that GAC supports our Gabriola community:

Economic Development

GAC generates a meaningful amount of money for the Gabriola community through wages and project expenses. Here’s are some recent highlights:

  • In our 2015-16 fiscal year, 77% of our entire budget ($204,000) was spent locally—this money went to Gabriola artists, freelancers, contractors, businesses, organizations, and individuals. Almost 60% of that money was raised from off-island sources.
  • In the first HALF of our current fiscal year (November 2016 to June 2017), those numbers have increased significantly. $236,000 has been paid out locally—that’s 81% of our total expenditures. 65% of that money came from off-Island sources. (This increase is a one-time anomaly because of our building project; however, our revenue and expenses have been increasing year after year for the past ten years.)
  • last year, GAC  directly employed 7 people in full- or part-time/contract positions. We also created 5 additional (temporary) full-time jobs paid directly through other (off-Island) sources. That’s 12 local jobs, and even more money injected into the local economy. Studies show that locally spent money generates 3.5 times more wealth for the local economy.
  • These figures don’t include the revenue generated directly for artists on the studio tour each year, and additional money earned by artists at other GAC events such as Street Art and the Night Market. This results in even more money injected into the local economy.
  • These estimates do not include the spin-offs to Gabriola businesses and other organizations that benefit from off-islanders who attend GAC events.

Community and Individual Health and Well-being

Significant research indicates that participation in the arts—as creator or observer—is a strong indicator of individual and community health and wellness [click here to read just one article about this]. The following information comes from a series of research studies conducted by Sharon McCoubrey, Coordinator of Community Engagement for the Faculty of Education at UBC.

The Arts contribute to social well-being because they …

  • enrich the experience of life (PoGs, 2007);
  • are vital for the progress of civilizations (Dieleman, 2008; Sacco and Segre, 2009);
  • provide pleasure and relaxation (Bunting, 2007);
  • provide challenge, amusement, fun, and relaxation (Bunting, 2007);
  • are integral to healing and resilience (Green and Sonn, 2008);
  • assist in recovery, communication and understanding, and in the management of pain, stress, and other symptoms (Staricoff, 2004; Argyle and Bolton, 2005);
  • strengthen community identity and social cohesion.

Benefits of Engagement and participation in the arts

A sense of belonging: Participation in cultural experiences leads to connections, engagements, social interactions, and a sense of belonging.

Improved sense of well-being: Evidence indicates “that participating seniors had an improved sense of well-being and social inclusion.”

Nurture creativity: “In a global economy, the competitive advantage is going to go to the creative societies and anything we can do to invest better in that which underpins creativity is going to have an economic, not just a social spin-off … Creative thinking is essential to the development of the human race and our society.”

A 2010 study called “The Arts & Individual Well-Being in Canada” determined that the results of engaging in a variety of cultural activities (including art gallery attendance, theatre attendance, live music attendance, and cultural festival attendance, the resulting Social Indicators include:

  • have very good or excellent health and mental health
  • are more likely to volunteer
  • feel less trapped in daily routines
  • are more likely to know many or most of their neighbours
  • are more likely to have done a favour for a neighbour in the past month
  • are more likely to have a very strong satisfaction with life

An overview study conducted by Arts Health Network Canada determined that:

  • participation in the arts correlates with greater longevity and positive perceptions of one’s health.
  • engaging in arts programs enables seniors to live independently longer, and reduces use of doctors, medications, and medical facilities while enhancing quality of life.
  • creative arts therapies provide avenues for healing for those who have suffered from trauma.
  • arts activities provide vehicles to explore solutions to pressing social issues, including addiction, bullying, domestic violence, as well as dementia, depression, loneliness, and anxiety.

Participation in the Arts

A study in the British Medical Association’s Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health considered these questions, and revealed these findings:

Is there a difference between participating and attending? Or doing and receiving? Both are beneficial; participation is better.

Is there a difference between the experience of men and women? Both benefit, but the benefits are stronger for men. For men, passive activities such as taking in a concert or museum exhibition are associated with an upbeat mood and better health. For women, the link is active—they were less likely to feel anxious, depressed or feel unwell if they played music or created art.

Is there a difference for socio-economic status? People who go to museums and concerts or create art or play an instrument are more satisfied with their lives, regardless of how educated or rich they are.

What About Youth?

In their 2006 report “Making the Case for Culture,” the Creative City Network of Canada found six arguments for using the arts to promote youth development. They determined that learning through the arts enhances learning in other areas and general scholastic achievement. In addition, they determined that the arts:

  • are an effective outreach tool to engage youth;
  • build resilience and self-esteem in young people;
  • contribute to creating healthy and supportive communities for youth;
  • help in the successful transition to adulthood and the development of in-demand job skills;
  • offer opportunities for youth leadership development and for youth to affect positive change in their communities;
  • empower youth, especially youth-at risk, to succeed in school and develop skills and relationships that contribute to success in later life.

The evidence is clear. The Gabriola Arts Council supports, enriches, and engages the local community. Please support GAC by becoming a member and signing up to be a monthly donor.

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