Gabriola Arts Council (GAC) respectfully acknowledges that the land on which we live and create is the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation whose presence here reaches back to time immemorial. GAC respects and affirms the inherent rights and title of Snuneymuxw First Nation.
We endeavour to honour Coast Salish land and its treaties by strengthening our relationship and responsibilities to them. We are grateful to Snuneymuxw First Nation, who continue to share their knowledge about the history of the lands and water and their relations to them. We believe that the Arts can contribute to the healing and decolonizing journey we all share together and commit to honouring Indigenous self-determination, sovereignty and resurgence.
to engage, enhance, and inspire the community’s cultural vitality through collaboration, leadership, and service
The Gabriola Arts Council—like many great grassroots initiatives—was conceived around a kitchen table by a group of committed community workers and artists.
They understood that the arts community on Gabriola could be better served by a formal organization working towards common goals, and so in April 1997 Festival Gabriola Society was formally registered. The goals were to create events and opportunities for “shared artistic experience” in the community. In 2006, the name was changed to the Gabriola Arts Council.
For more than twenty years, the board (80 directors in 20 years!), the members, and a dedicated volunteer force have been supporting, presenting, and creating art on Gabriola. GAC’s active membership has continued to grow, with a current list of more than 500 members.
The volunteer efforts of the board are now supported by full- and part-time staff, and numerous freelance and contract workers.
In September 2014, the Gabriola Women’s Institute donated a heritage building to GAC (one of Gabriola’s original one-room schoolhouses). A thorough upgrade and renovation project has resulted in a high-quality, multipurpose community and performance space.
Arts are essential to community and individual development—both social and economic. The Gabriola Arts Council, through dynamic programs and events, makes a significant contribution to the local economy—hundreds of visitors are drawn to the Island each year to participate in festivals and events, creating income-generating opportunities for artists, as well as for local businesses.
The Gabriola Arts Council’s future is bright, as more artists in all disciplines make Gabriola home, and more arts lovers, supporters, and consumers embrace the great Gabriola art vibe.
GAC gives back
The work of the Gabriola Arts Council continues to benefit our entire community in tangible ways. From economic well-being to professional development and even the health and wellness of our community members. The arts have a measurable impact.
Gabriola arts council
our board and staff
The Directors of the Gabriola Arts Council form a hard-working and committed volunteer Board that directs and guides the staff, volunteers, and the organization.
We are always interested in hearing from members who have new ideas or who would like to volunteer to help with events or fundraising. Contact us!
Gabriola Arts Council board of directors
Anne spent 35 years working as a geotechnical engineer with a consulting engineering company based in Ontario, travelling the world a bit with various projects. While working, Anne’s belief that geotechnical engineering is an art as opposed to an exact science (in that it takes a lot of imagination to visualize what might be happening below ground surface) satisfied some of her artistic urge while saving up for retirement. But then when retirement planning with her partner resulted in a paradise home purchase on Gabriola, she quickly shifted gears.
After three years of part time living on Gabriola while looking after parents back in Oakville for the rest of the time, Anne made the plunge in 2019 and is now fully immersed in Gabriola life where the arts community and gardening and new friends are now her passions and full-time replacement job.
Board member since February 2020
Sas began her career in the investment industry with mutual fund management to stock trader for brokerage firms and as a consultant and educator delivering seminars designed to empower women with stock market strategies. Sas entered the nonprofit arena with Association of Neighbourhood Houses, becoming engaged in board development, volunteer support, program delivery and governance best practices. At 39 she started tap dance lessons! Thus began the tap journey; she co founded the Vancouver Tap Dance Society and assumed the role of Executive Director.
In 2001 Sas moved to Gabriola with a thought that living on Gabriola and a focus on her leadership role at VanTap, just might be the perfect match. It proved to be right, she cannot imagine living anywhere else and her passion for tap remains endless. Joining the GAC board is another perfect match, contributing and traversing the rich arts on Gabriola, and yes, with a shuffle, step, stomp.
Board member since February 2022
Board member since March 2023
Gabriola has been my home since 2014. Primarily a silversmith when I arrived, the natural beauty of the island and the many creative connections I have been fortunate to make during the past five years have encouraged me to explore different media including acrylics and watercolours. I’m a regular at seasonal craft fairs on Gabriola and Vancouver Island, participate in major island arts events like the Studio Tour, and Isle of the Arts. I plant flowers when I’m not busy making a mess in my studio.
Board member since February 2020
Patricia Armstrong is a professional violinist and music educator. She has performed with the Victoria Symphony, the Edmonton Symphony, the CBC Radio Orchestra, and, most recently, with the Vancouver Opera Orchestra. Patricia became a full- time resident of Gabriola in 2018, after having spent many years as a part-timer. Her family has roots on Gabriola that reach back to the 1930’s, and she is grateful to continue the legacy.
Board member since March 2021
Roweena has been an admin assistant for 25 years at UBC. She worked with the Faculty of Education for the last 19 years and feels that arts and education co-mingle very well. She had been involved with Human Rights for the last 28 years and is a big supporter of the environment, boasting membership in Western Wilderness. Leaving the big city and moving to Gabriola is a shock to her audacious spirit of attending lectures, plays, protests, marches, etc. She dabbles in income tax preparation and stained glass. She is enjoying getting to know the art community and all that Gabriola has to offer.
Board member since July 2021
Gabriola Arts Council staff
administrative systems officer
Kathy Mc has been particularly active in Gabriola’s thriving arts community as a vocalist, actor, artistic director, event producer, content writer and woodworker.
She has performed in, and managed, hundreds of live concerts and stage productions in her almost 30 years on the island. She brings some valuable history and experience with her, in that she worked for GAC as Program Coordinator, Administrator, and Studio Tour manager, more than a decade ago; and is happy to be supporting the vibrant Gabriola arts scene in an administrative role this time around.
web content & media manager
Laura’s formal training is in graphic design and motion media design. She has a knack and a passion for helping small businesses and nonprofits improve their digital communications and marketing.
Laura is a photographer, videographer and storyteller. She is also a serial entrepreneur, first with a traveling photo digitizing business, then hosting tech education workshops and running a boutique web development firm. Now she is happy to call Mudge Island home, and spend time contributing to the local artist community.
Victoria is a bookkeeper extraordinaire and a valued member of the team at GAC. She is a long-time islander who you may recognize from the Lion’s Club, the ball field, the Agi Coop, IOTA Mini, the golf course and of course, Woodfire. She proves the old adage: “If you want something done, ask someone who is busy.” We marvel at her ability to organize and “do.” And she does it all with the greatest smile!
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When you join the Gabriola Arts Council you’ll be the first to receive GAC news, discounts and calls for entry.
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Do you love art? Do you want to be a part of keeping Gabriola Island the vibrant arts community that it is?
Gabriola Island has the fifth highest concentration of artists in Canada—an amazing range of visual artists, writers, poets, dancers, musicians, and actors live and work on this inspiring island in the Salish Sea. The combination of a beautiful and precious natural environment, and a rich collection of artists define community life on Gabriola. Learn more about what Gabriola Island has to offer – and how to get here.
Our generous donors, sponsors and funders make it possible to maintain and expand our events and programs every year. Thank you for your support.