Gabriola arts council

land acknowledgement

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.

our mission:

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


our history

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!

Photo credit: Bill Pope

Gabriola Arts Council board of directors

Anne Poschmann


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 Selfjord

vice president

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

Brendalee Astells


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


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

Ian Cox


Ian studied music at Capilano University and has written and performed music for over 25 years from BC to Europe. While working in the film industry in Vancouver, Ian had the good fortune to have continued involvement with musicians and groups such as Rabnett 5, Dawn Pemberton, the Queer Songbook Orchestra, JC Thomson’s Big Fate, giving him the opportunity to travel and perform in the United States, Europe, and at Canada’s music festivals in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and on the BC coast. Ian has always had a connection to the gulf islands and finally moved to Gabriola in 2018 permanently, where he continues to perform and live with his husband, crazy dog Jack, two cats, chickens and the many other creatures that call the island home.

Board member since July 2021

Roweena Bacchus


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

Corinne Flaws


Corinne spent 33 years working in information services in a large financial organization, managing complex application development projects, and ensuring business satisfaction with information services delivery and operations. Throughout her career, she dabbled in many creative side endeavours, including interior decorating, fashion design, photography and art, but most of her creative energy was focused on creative solutions to business problems. As she became more involved with art and photography, she decided to retire early to focus full time on these passions. While looking for a place to spend her retirement around Manitoba lake country, Corinne found herself on an impromptu day trip to Gabriola. She was immediately drawn in to the Isle of the Arts and moved here, within months, in January 2020. She spent the first few month in isolation, exploring and photographing the beauty of the island and creating paintings from her photographs. She has since become involved with the Photography Club, GROWLS Eagle monitoring program, and the Palette People.

Board member since March 2023

Gord Hall


Board member since March 2023

Ardyth Cooper


Board member since March 2023

Noella Sale


Noella is an IT professional of over 20 years and enjoys helping people use the technology. Her first visits to the island were in 1981 and in 2009, she made Gabriola a permanent home. Her passion for the arts was sparked at a young age. She was a drummer in a band from the ages of 11-13, involved in theatre and played the piano at local gigs while attending high school and college. Her interest for the arts was reignited when she met her partner Steve, a sculptor and visual artist. Noella oversees operations, exhibitions, and events for Steve’s studio. She loves the arts community and looks forward to working with the GAC Board.

Board member since March 2023

Gabriola Arts Council staff

Carol Fergusson Executive Director of Gabriola Arts Council

Carol Fergusson

executive director

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Carol joined the Arts Council in March 2020. Since arriving on Gabriola she has been involved with various aspects of GAC: Tour Central Producer, Canada Day Producer, Festival Merchandise Team Lead and Coordinator to name a few.

Carol also owned a small art gallery on Gabriola and came to know the island’s artists on a professional and personal level. Trained as a fashion designer and having worked in the arts for most of her career, Carol looks forward to the challenges of Executive Director in carrying on with GAC’s mission, vision and mandate, as well as forging new paths.

Board member since march 2020


Kathy Mcintyre

administrative systems officer

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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.


Victoria Banford

financial administrator

Victoria <at>

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!


Laura Eagin

web content & media manager

Laura <at>

Laura is our digital Jill-of-all-trades. She has made a career out of helping small businesses and nonprofits level up their websites and digital marketing game.

Laura is a serial entrepreneur. Her first business was to drive around from home to home in a Volkswagen van, digitizing family photos. Later, in Vancouver, she ran a branch of CampTech, a digital marketing training centre.


Hayley Read

Cultivate 2023 Festival Assistant

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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?

about Gabriola

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 funders

Our generous donors, sponsors and funders make it possible to maintain and expand our events and programs every year. Thank you for your support.

Funded by the Government of Canada
British Columbia Community Gaming Grants