School District 60 band wraps up year

Enjoy the year-end “virtual” concerts of the bands of School District 60

Senior Band: The Senior Concert Band is our premier ensemble in SD60, directed by David Price. Mr. Price is a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s Music Education program, and has been directing the Senior Band for over a decade. The Senior Concert Band involves students from both North Peace Secondary and the Energetic Learning Campus. Sabrina Brooks is his assistant conductor.

Senior Jazz Band: The Senior Jazz Band is directed by our local Jazz Master Nicholas Everett, Alice Maundrell (who studied with saxophone Jazz Giant Wendall Clanton), and Joe Brooks. It welcomes students from North Peace Secondary and the Energetic Learning Campus as well.

Concert Band:

The Grade 8/9 Concert Band is directed by the Co-ordinator of the SD60 Band Program, Sandra Gunn. Alice Maundrell is her assistant director. The Grade 8/9 band is planning on attending MusicFest Canada, the national band competition, next year now that Covid is coming to an end! This year the 8/9 band enjoyed two online festival adjudications with prominent music adjudicators and that was one bonus of having the online version of the festivals is that we could have very prestigious musicians doing the adjudication. It was great to know that SD 60 band is able to achieve high festival awards (silver for 8/9) from national and international adjudicators. The 8/9 band loved to practice together at night band so much that night rehearsals were extended an extra month!

Grade 7 Band: The Grade 7 Band is directed by Alice Maundrell. Sandra Gunn is her assistant director.

Beginner Band: The Beginner Band is made up of students from all 11 elementary schools, and is directed by Sabrina Brooks. David Price is the assistant director. This year they were still able to compete in the local PRN Festival and have a lot of fun, even with all the pandemic rules. We have our highest retention in history with most of our students carrying on into Grade 7 Band next year. Well done!

Letter to Mayor and Council

The following letter was sent by the Fort St. John Community Arts Council to Mayor and Council in response to their decision not to renew the Management Services agreement with the North Peace Cultural Society. Contact the Arts Council at info@fsjarts.org if you have questions or comments.

Dear Mayor and Council,

The Fort St. John Community Arts Council was surprised and disappointed at the recent announcement that City Council has decided not to renew the Management Services Agreement with the North Peace Cultural Society.  The Arts Council has always had a close relationship with the Cultural Centre, having initiated and spearheaded the drive to bring a theatre, art gallery and a new space for the library to Fort St. John, before turning the project over to the newly formed Cultural Society almost 35 years ago.

Since that time, we have seen thousands of people enjoy the events, performances and activities that have been presented in the Centre.  Generations of young dancers, singers and musicians have performed on the stage, community theatre has entertained sold out audiences, children have enjoyed a variety of arts camps, classes and activities and many professional artists have come to Fort St. John, attracted by a professional quality theatre.  In 2001 and 2016, the Centre welcomed the province to Fort St. John for the BC Festival of Arts and the Performing Arts BC Provincial Festival.  Many of our member groups depend on the Centre as a presentation space for a wide range of artistic pursuits.

For 30 years, the North Peace Cultural Society has managed a vibrant and active arts venue and has engaged with the local arts groups to give them the best opportunities to perform and showcase their art.  Through some difficult years, the people who cared most about the arts used the community-based nature of the Society to step up to correct mistakes and respond to the needs of the artists, arts groups and audiences.  In recent years, the Cultural Centre has remained active, busy and is financially stable, even through the restrictions imposed by the health regulations of the past year.  The Society has shown that arts and culture is best served by community members who have an interest, knowledge and love of the arts.  There is also no doubt that a management agreement with a non-profit society is the most cost effective way of running the Centre.

It is very disappointing that City Council has taken this step with no direct communication or consultation with either the North Peace Cultural Society or the many arts groups that have used the Cultural Centre over the years.  The City has not given any specific vision or plan for the operation of the Cultural Centre and has chosen, instead, in the late stages of a pandemic that has devastated the performing arts in particular, to throw the arts community into confusion and uncertainty.  This absence of transparency or effort to understand the history and operations of the Centre, and, frankly, the lack of respect for a non-profit organization that has served the community for 35 years, is very concerning to anyone involved in the arts and who values the contribution that the Cultural Society has made to this community.

It is our hope that City Council members will take the time to talk to the Cultural Society board members as well as Arts Council member groups to get a more balanced understanding of the operation and life of the Cultural Centre before taking such a drastic step that is so upsetting to so many residents of this City.  A better understanding of the City’s vision for arts and culture, for the Cultural Centre Society, could lead to additional efficiencies in management services provided by the Society.