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Giving to the Arts this holiday season: November 29

This holiday, ACWB is inviting Wood Buffalo residents, businesses, and organizations to participate in Giving Tuesday on a local scale by becoming an Arts Champion. This movement aims to support the arts and the well-being of residents across the region.

You can support yourself and others through the arts by becoming an ACWB member, sponsor, donor, or volunteer. See below for the six ways you can become an Arts Champion.

Enter to WIN $5,000 for ACWB: Nov. 15 – 29

Enter the GivingTuesday contest to win $5,000 from CanadaHelps. Every donation made until November 29 is an automatic entry to WIN a $5,000 CanadaHelps charity gift card that can be used to further support Arts Council Wood Buffalo or other charities and causes you care about.

What is Giving Tuesday?

GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement, taking place each year after Black Friday. The “Opening day of the giving season,” it’s a time when charities, companies and individuals join together and rally for favourite causes. In the same way that retailers take part in Black Friday, the giving community comes together for GivingTuesday.

Artwork by Liam Legault

Six Ways to Support ACWB

1) Donate to ACWBWe are a registered charity and you will recieve a tax receipt for donations of $50 and above. Plus, that donation will go towards our Membership Bank. See more about the Membership Bank below.

2) Sponsor programs or Awards. You can sponsor an award for the Buffys, ACWB’s annual Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards, held in the Fall each year. Alternatively, you can sponsor one of our existing programs, or pitch a new program that supports the arts community. To pitch a new program idea, contact the ACWB Programs Manager, Luay Eljamal, at [email protected] or (587) 674-1625 ext. 102. To sponsor an award or program, visit our Support Us page to see opportunities.

3) Buy or gift a membership. Buy a membership for yourself or your organization or gift it to an artist that you know! There are a number of benefits to being a member, including discounts, news and opportunities, consultation services, promotion for your arts practice, access to Marketplace, and much more . In addition, you will be adding to the voice for the arts in Wood Buffalo. Larger numbers means a louder voice when Arts Council advocates for the arts community to all levels of government.

4) Renew your membership. There are plenty of benefits to your membership, including monthly newsletters with the inside scoop on opportunities, grants, and artist calls. In 2020, we introduced Marketplace as a free member benefit, so you can have your own online shop on Arts Council’s website. Don’t forget the Artist Directory, where you can upload your artistic profile for the community to see when they are looking to hire local talent.

5) Apply to the Membership Bank. Do you want to become a member, but can’t afford membership fees? Send an email to our Communications Coordinator, Sahar Saifee ([email protected]) or call 587-674-1625 x.104 to access the bank of free 1-year memberships. She will get in touch with you so you can register (for free), and we can get your contact information to activate your membership.

The Membership Bank is a “bank” of free ACWB memberships to help ensure everyone can be an ACWB member. Financial donations made to ACWB from November 23 until December 23 will go towards the Membership Bank. This will help make memberships barrier-free, so anyone in the region can have access to the benefits of ACWB membership and be a part of the unified voice for the arts in Wood Buffalo.

6) Volunteer with ACWB. Sometimes we need volunteers help to deliver programs and events. Sign up to be added to our volunteer database. We’ll contact you when we have opportunities.

Not an Artist?

You don’t need to be an artist to be an Arts Champion. All you need is a passion for making our artistic community more inclusive. You don’t even need to identify with the word ‘artist’ to support creativity, culture, conversation, and connection for everyone in the region.

Thank You for Supporting the Arts

On behalf of the ACWB Board of Directors and Staff, thank you for contributing to a remarkable quality of life through the arts by being an Arts Champion.

Questions?

Contact Akshaya Lakshmi, our Communications Coordinator at [email protected] or 587-674-1625 ext.104.

November 4, 2020

Fare-Will: A New Beginning for 2022

As we approach the end of December, it’s almost time to turn the pages of our calendars and begin a new year. For me, I’m excited about what’s to come next year, but I’m also feeling a little emotional as I wrap up 2021 and get ready to start a new chapter of my life.

What’s this new chapter? Well, after nearly two years of working at Arts Council Wood Buffalo, I am leaving my role as Communications Manager and moving on to a new career in public engagement at a different organization.

Before turning the page, I’d like to reflect on the chapter I’ve just finished. If I were to describe this chapter, it would be an inspirational romance. Why? Because I love Arts Council. I love what the organization stands for, I love the people at Arts Council, and I love our arts community (including you, dear reader).

I started at Arts Council in February 2020, just before the pandemic. I had only been working with ACWB for a month when we began working remotely. Oddly enough, I believe that the pandemic inspired us to work harder and smarter, creating programs like Art of Conversation, the cinematic version of the Buffys, and an online Marketplace. We were all very passionate about supporting the community through crazy uncertainty.

You’d think that working remotely would have made it more difficult for us to jell as a team, but I think our mutual love of the arts and our desire for the world to know about the power of art brought us together.

It didn’t take long for me to start building new skills. I began managing the website (including coding, which is pretty scary for an old man like myself), aggregating data into Luay’s super spread sheets, populating a customer relationship management system, learning more about social media and graphic design, and I even got to experience the thrill acting. Yes, acting. I haven’t created an IMDB profile yet, but let’s just say that it was pretty exciting to play the character of Westcott Indigo in Buffys 2021.

Fortunately, I was also able to utilize some of my well-established skills, including dorky puns and terrible jokes. I’m happy to inform you that Akshaya has been practising, so she can carry on the torch of terrible humour into the future. Bravo! I’m proud of you, Lakshmi! “Why don’t you take the rest of the day off?” As Akshaya’s manager, I would often ask her to take the rest of the day off – but would only ask her when the work day had already finished.

We had lots of laughs – often at Luay’s expense, as we would jokingly use one of his favourite words, “aggregate,” and turn it into a virtual drinking game, where we would pretend to drink every time we would use “aggregate” in a sentence. Fortunately, Luay is incredible at making critical paths, but is never critical of anyone. Lucky for us.

We also made fun of Sharon each time she would accidentally pocket-dial us. She quickly earned the nickname of “Instananna” simply because she isn’t afraid of wrestling new technology into submission while maintaining her grandmotherly nature of taking care of everyone.

As far as bosses go, Liana has always been much more of a friend, leader, and inspiration than a boss. “You’re doing a fantastic job, mi Padrona.” I often refer to her as “mi Padrona,” which is Spanish for “my Godmother,” and I actually should have been saying “mi Patrona,” which is Spanish for “my employer” – I guess I had better brush up on my Spanish.

It was only months after I started at ACWB that the team began to grow. Soon, Donna Aubichon joined the team as the Rural Arts Support Liaison in Fort Chipewyan. She’s also our resident firecracker. With Donna advocating for ACWB, the future of the arts is bright in Fort Chipewyan. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for her community.

Nick Vardy also joined the team not long ago, and at 6’6”, Nick is already taking Arts Council to new heights – especially when compared to his manager, Sharon, who stands in at a solid 5-foot 3/4 of an inch. When Nick joined the team, I immediately felt a connection. Not only are we from the same area in Ontario, we’re also both drummers. Right on, brother!

It has been a pleasure working with the team at ACWB (including the Board of Directors, previous staff, and those who went on maternity leave – Christina and Hanna). Nearly everyone I have met in connection with Arts Council has made an impression: ACWB members, collaborators, volunteers, hired artists, and everyone in our creative community.

You have all had some sort of impact on my life story. Before working at Arts Council, I had no idea there were so many artists and creative people in this region. You have inspired me personally, professionally, and in my own artistic practise.

Thank you, Arts Council Wood Buffalo and everyone I have encountered in our arts community. I have gained a new respect for all arts disciplines, and for those who dedicate their time and energy to being creative. You make our region a super cool place to live and be an artist. And for that, I thank you.

As I turn the page to start my next chapter, rest assured that the arts will always be an important theme in my story, and you too, will always be supporting characters.

Even though I won’t be working for Arts Council, I am a proud Arts Champion and ACWB member, and I hope to see you all soon at Arts Inc, the spot for creativity for our community. Don’t forget to donate.

Sincerely,

Will

December 20, 2021

Intern(net) Celebrity:

My Summer with Arts Council Wood Buffalo

Written by Hunter Pratt, ACWB Communications Intern

As my summer internship comes to an end, I prepare for the one question asked as soon as a single leaf hits the ground: How was your summer?  My answer: educational! I spent my summer with Arts Council Wood Buffalo where I was quickly integrated into their family feeling atmosphere. Hired as a Communications Intern, I had the pleasure of being able to work along all of their team’s great personalities. The inside jokes created make it one of the reasons it is sad for me to leave (not to be dramatic). Well, my time here has almost come to an end, and I want to share with everyone a bit of what it was like to work at Arts Council as a Communications Intern. 

To begin a lookback at my summer I must say, my duties as a Communications Intern were not your typical tasks. Here is an example of one of my responsibilities,

Presented here is the #HunTea series, one of the most fun projects of the summer. With HunTea, I had the complete creative freedom to make high quality video productions (via TikTok) on any topic of my desire. Also launched on Instagram Reels, I would write scripts and film these videos, which were posted weekly. The best part of making these videos was seeing people enjoy them as much as we did when filming. Trust me, the filming of these videos made for a lot of laughter. 

To bring me back to earth once my TikTok fame went to my head, I assisted in preparing for Buffys 2021 (Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards.) As Buffy season rolled around, tasks were given to me such as transcribing audio nominations, assembling nominee graphics, and creating a social media post schedule for all the nominees. As I completed various tasks, I began to witness excitement for the Buffys grow in the office. 

I also sat in many meetings like the interns you see in the movies. Except I didn’t get that full experience: I never got kicked out, or sent to pick up dry cleaning. Whew! Though, I would say I fulfilled my duties of being the pesky intern, as shown in this TikTok: How not to get in the way of filming. 

TikTok never lied. I truly had to badger everyone to participate in them. It was great to have natural actors at hand. A perk of working among artists! 

Additionally, I wrote a couple of blog posts for the ACWB blog (including this one). My first blog post was a highlight of why art is crucial to rural communities. As a person who grew up in a rural community, I was pleased to see other rural community members reciprocate their passion towards the arts. Here is me shamelessly linking to my beautifully written story.

On a serious note, a huge benefit of working at Arts Council was being able to see artists in their element. Many artists stopped by to drop off their artwork. Some even performed for an upcoming documentary and I was fortunate enough to see artists loving what they do. Watching artists at their craft enabled me to appreciate every artistic discipline.  

While working at the Arts Council, I gained an understanding of many different programs that I didn’t know they offered. There are many opportunities for artists to be showcased, such as Art of Conversation, Arts Incubator (coming soon), Marketplace, and more that I had no clue about. It was fascinating to learn about all of them – they really offer something for everyone. 

This brings me to my last order of business. Before I leave Arts Council, I truly want to promote it. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the arts, start at Arts Council Wood Buffalo. They have created a supportive environment for all artists and will encourage your growth. This is me speaking from experience. To learn more go to their website (artscouncilwb.ca) or follow them on social media: @artscouncilwb. 

Thank you to all of the staff, especially the ones that participated in the TikTok-making process! Thank you for having me! 🙂

September 7, 2021

Celebrate Alberta Culture Days in Wood Buffalo

Arts Council Wood Buffalo is excited to announce Alberta Culture Days and Month of the Artist celebrations running in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo for the month of September.

Alberta Culture Days is a province-wide celebration of arts, heritage, diversity and community spirit, and includes a series of free online and in-person events. Local events include workshops, live music, theatre, video, masquerades, and more. Visit rmwb.ca/culturedays to see event details.

“Alberta has a rich and diverse culture worth celebrating and sharing with others,” said Ron Orr, Minister of Culture for the province. “The arts community and municipality have put together an exceptional lineup of events for the Wood Buffalo region. I encourage everyone to get out, enjoy the fun and support local artists this month.”

September is also Month of the Artist in Alberta. Alberta is the first and remains the only province in Canada to dedicate a month to artists. It is an annual celebration of artists, and the value they bring to the province, both socially and economically.

“We’re proud to take part in this collaborative celebration of arts and culture,” said Liana Wheeldon, Executive Director for Arts Council Wood Buffalo. “ACWB has been identified as a Feature Celebration Site for Alberta Culture Days, and we also sit on the Alberta Culture Days Community Planning Committee. This year, we secured grant funding to support 10 different groups who will be putting on events throughout September.” 

Arts Council Wood Buffalo will be recognizing Alberta Culture Days and Month of the Artist through social media (@artscouncilwb), as well as celebrating Art of Conversation participants with St. Aidan’s Society at an event on Arts & Aging Day, which falls on September 24.

Funding for Alberta Culture Days has been provided by the Government of Alberta and Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) is a non-profit society and charitable organization that supports the growth and success of the arts in Wood Buffalo. ACWB was established to raise the profile of the arts in our region and to provide support to all facets of the arts community.

September 1, 2021

Five Reasons Why Art is Crucial to Rural Communities

By Hunter Pratt, ACWB 2021 Summer Communications Intern

Gregoire Lake – Photo supplied by Nicholas Vardy Photography

Growing up in the rural community of Anzac, I have learned the importance of having art around. Anzac, as small as it is, makes up for its size with the people that live here. My community has had many art-related events in the past, which prove time and time again how art brings us together. However, I believe that these events should not just be for special occasions. I believe rural communities should have year-round access to the arts. Local artists in the area should not have to wait months for the next dance class or market just to express themselves. Living in a rural community should not be cause for limited creativity. If anything, living in a small community should enhance creativity.

Here are five reasons why art is crucial to rural communities:

  1. Art creates bonds.  Depending on situations, elders and seniors in rural communities often live alone. Having an outlet for community members, like a painting class, can improve one’s mental health. Art allows people to meet others where they can bond over shared interests. Not to mention certain arts like beading and cooking can create bonds between old and young, which is crucial to rural communities for passing down traditions.
  1. Art tells the stories of our rich history. Rural communities often have the most interesting stories as to how they came to be. Having artists in our communities can allow them to learn the history and create art that encapsulates it. It is important to keep the history known, and art plays a crucial role in how younger generations can learn from it.
Anzac – Photo supplied by Hunter Pratt

3. Art captures the beauty of our surroundings that only locals see.  Small communities do not get enough praise for keeping natural habitats preserved. Not only are wetlands and lakes key for species’ survival, they are natural art pieces that are often overlooked. These natural art pieces are often in rural areas. I encourage anyone that lives near to these, to use their creativity and make art of them. For art is the only way to truly capture the beauty of nature.

Gregoire Lake – Photo supplied by Nicholas Vardy Photography

4. You never know where you’ll find your passion. Having access to the arts in local areas can allow people to find their passion. People in rural areas are often overlooked for opportunities due to their isolated location. By giving people in rural communities a chance to try different arts, new passions will surely be discovered. This is crucial for boosting community morale and creating improvement.

5. Mental health.  Mental health is important, especially when you live in a rural area. It is important to take care of yourself, and art is a perfect way to do so. Art is more than just enjoyable. Art can act as a stress reliever. Art conveys emotions for you when you feel unheard and need to express yourself. Having opportunities to practice art forms should not be neglected in rural communities. Having more accessibility to art can make a community thrive and improve mental health and quality of life.

What can we do?  In order to implement the significance of these principles, we must take action. I strongly urge everyone to create from the resources available. Community members, natural habitats, and history are all great resources to be put to use. Find your inner artist and create from your community. As stated previously, living in a rural community should not be cause for limited creativity, it should enhance it. In closing, art is crucial to all rural communities for growth, culture, improvement and many more reasons. We have the space to create, now we must do so!

Learn more about the arts in Wood Buffalo and opportunities for local artists (including our rural communities) at artscouncilwb.ca, or follow Arts Council Wood Buffalo on social media @artscouncilwb.

August 3, 2021

ACWB Annual General Meeting: June 24, 2021

Please join us at our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday, June 24, 2021, via Zoom webinar from 6:30 – 8 p.m. Save the date and bring some snacks as we highlight the successes of 2020 and look forward to what’s in store for 2021. 

Register for free through Eventbrite

Your participation is essential to vote on brand new bylaws for Arts Council. Participate by attending the AGM or by sending in your Proxy Voting Form

Link to AGM Zoom Meeting

Why Attend the AGM?

In addition to learning about what Arts Council has been doing for the local arts community, here’s what you can expect and why you should attend:

Register for free through Eventbrite

Is Your Membership Up to Date?

All members in good standing (i.e., membership must be active and up to date) will receive a link to the AGM Zoom webinar via a reminder email sent out June 21, 2021, and again on the day of the AGM.

Only active members are eligible to vote. Please be sure your membership is up to date and active. If you’re not sure, contact Akshaya Lakshmi at [email protected].

Agenda Package & Documentation

Click the following links to find the 2020 AGM Agenda Package2020 Approved Financial Statements and 2020 Annual Report.

New Bylaws – Priority

This year, ACWB will be voting on a new set of bylaws to help streamline the organization and make Arts Council even better. (Yes, it seems hard to believe that Arts Council can get better, but there’s always room for growth). The way the current bylaws are written, it is necessary that at least 156 members be in attendance or vote by proxy for Arts Council to pass the new bylaws. See the proposed new bylaws in the 2020 AGM Agenda Package.

Why does Arts Council need new bylaws?

As Bob Dylan would say, “the times they are a-changin.'” New bylaws will help ACWB adapt to the changing trends in board governance and technology to allow for things like electronic communication and voting. New bylaws will also help the ACWB Board of Directors to more efficiently transact their business while continuing to follow the legislation outlined by the Provincial Government.

Why is this important for you as an ACWB member?

As an ACWB member, it is your right to vote on new bylaws and understand what new bylaws will mean for Arts Council and its membership. You are entitled to attend the AGM and vote, or you can submit a Proxy Voting Form.

View a summary of changes highlighting the difference between the current bylaws and the proposed bylaws.

Proxy Voting Forms

All ACWB Members are encouraged to submit a Proxy Voting Form even if you plan to attend the meeting. The way the current bylaws are written, it is necessary that at least 156 members be in attendance or vote by proxy for Arts Council to pass the new bylaws. 

Complete your Proxy Voting Form and return it by June 24 at 12 p.m. (NOON) via email to [email protected].

Any questions?

Contact [email protected]

We look forward to seeing you there.

Link to AGM Zoom Meeting

June 1, 2021

Statement of Sympathy

Arts Council Wood Buffalo has spent time listening, learning and reflecting on the recent discovery at a former Indigenous Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia. We’ve taken time to think about the impact of this news on Indigenous people across Turtle Island and in our own community.

There are no words that can truly address the loss and hurt associated with this discovery, but we feel the need to say something just the same.

With respect and sympathy from the Board of Directors and Staff of Arts Council Wood Buffalo, we wish to express our sincere condolences to the families of the children and to the people of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc community. 

We also extend our respect and sympathy to all of the communities, families and children that have been affected by losses due to residential schools. This discovery in Kamloops reflects 215 children, but there are many more that have been found and countless that have not. 

We continue to listen to your stories. 

We are committed to taking the time to reflect and identify the most meaningful way to inform and equip our team to recognize the struggles that are very real for so many members of our community, and to respond in a way that demonstrates our commitment to truth and reconciliation.

The arts are a powerful tool to educate us and give a voice to those affected by residential schools. The arts empower, activate, heal, inspire, and enrich us. The arts connect us and are an integral part of healthy communities. Arts Council Wood Buffalo will continue to work with all artists and community members to support the growth and success of a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive arts community.

May 31, 2021

ACWB and St. Aidan’s Society Launch another round of Art of Conversation

Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) is teaming up with St. Aidan’s Society for another round of Art of Conversation, a collaborative project that brings Artists, Seniors, and Elders together to create art from a distance.


Opportunities are now open for Artists of all disciplines, as well as Seniors and Elders (+60 years of age). ACWB will be commissioning Artists based on accepted applications, and registering Seniors and Elders until all spots are filled.

This project provides an opportunity for Wood Buffalo Artists to work together with Seniors and Elders across the region over the phone to create artistic projects of their choosing based on their conversations.


“In April 2020, we teamed up with St. Aidan’s Society to launch Art of Conversation with the goal of engaging Seniors and Elders in the arts,” said Programs Manager, Luay Eljamal. “Based on the artwork created, and the reactions from participants, we soon knew we were on to something special for our community.”


The pandemic made the project more important than ever as art helps participants make personal connections, enhance their health and mental well-being, and overcome feelings of isolation — despite physical distancing.


Since the project was launched, there have been 36 pairings (31 artists and 34 Seniors and Elders), works of art have been installed in the Art of Conversation virtual art exhibit, local production company Twisted Gears Studios produced 14 testimonial videos, and a one-hour documentary by Bamboo Shoots and Telus has just been released on Arts Council’s YouTube channel.


Perhaps most importantly, 89% of surveyed participants felt more connected to the community as a result of Art of Conversation. All Artists expressed an improved understanding and appreciation of Seniors and Elders.


“I thought I was doing it to support the artists, not realizing how much I would gain from the discussions and the resulting poetry,” said Hope, participating Senior. “I probably wouldn’t have signed up in normal times, but in the early self-isolation times of spring 2020, and with so many of my friends and relations still working or teaching from home and with limited time to offer me, the chance to meet an artist for a chat was very appealing.”

“We couldn’t have brought Art of Conversation back to the community without the generous support of Suncor and the New Horizons for Seniors Program by the Government of Canada,” says Executive Director, Liana Wheeldon. “It has been incredibly rewarding to see the impacts of this project on participants, and we look forward to seeing what grows out of this round of conversations.”

Eligibilities
● Artists must be Wood Buffalo residents for the duration of the project.
● Seniors and Elders must be Wood Buffalo residents, 60 years of age and over.

Learn more about the Art of Conversation initiative and application requirements in the Opportunities & Calls section of Arts Council’s website.


Help support this project by purchasing an Art of Conversation mug through Arts Council’s Marketplace. Choose from five mugs featuring art created during the project.


See what the conversation is all about and admire the artwork created during this project in the Art of Conversation Virtual Exhibit.

Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) is a non-profit society and charitable organization that supports the growth and success of the arts in Wood Buffalo. ACWB was established to raise the profile of the arts in our region and to provide support to all facets of the arts community.

May 19, 2021

Applications Now Open for Fall Residency: Suncor Indigenous Artist

Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) is now accepting applications for the Suncor Indigenous Artist Program until June 30, 2021 at 12PM.

The Suncor Indigenous Artist Program supports one Indigenous artist within ACWB’s Artist in Residency program. This iteration of the program will run for three to four weeks between September and December, 2021.

ACWB is encouraging Indigenous artists from across Wood Buffalo and Canada to apply for this opportunity.

“We would like to thank Suncor for their generous support of the Suncor Indigenous Artist Program,” said Executive Director, Liana Wheeldon. “We are proud to be part of a collaborative project that supports the preservation and expression of Indigenous art and culture in our region.”

Much like the Artist in Residency program, the Suncor Indigenous Artist Program follows the traditional residency model and is based on the idea of making art and engaging with the community through art. Applicants’ artforms could range from Dance, Literary Arts, Media, Music, Performance or Visual Arts. ACWB also welcomes applications from artists who feel that they belong to other artforms. The selected artist may choose to focus on traditional or non-traditional Indigenous art forms.

“We are excited to welcome the incoming artist to our region and support them with the development of their original work while they mentor local artists at the same time,” said Programs Manager, Luay Eljamal. “This is an excellent opportunity to expose our community to Indigenous cultures both within and beyond the boundaries of Treaty 8 Territory.”

The selected artist will spend time creating work inspired by the environment, culture and people of Wood Buffalo. The selected artist will have an artistic career based on using traditional knowledge, skills and materials to create new works of art.

Arts Council will act as host to the selected artist for their time in the Wood Buffalo region. This typically includes arranging long-term accommodations, providing creative/studio space (in partnership with other organizations), administrative support, consultative services, and covering costs for the aforementioned items, as well as a per diem, and any materials and supplies that the artist may need for the duration of their residency.

Health and safety best practices to reduce the risks of COVID-19 will also be followed based on recommendations from the Government of Alberta.

Visit the ACWB’s Artist in Residency webpage for details, timelines, submission criteria, FAQ’s and the Artist in Residency Handbook. For more information or submit a proposal, please contact Nick Vardy at [email protected] or (780) 742-5887.

May 7, 2021

May 2021 Centre Stage with Tasheena Rae

Tasheena Campbell comes from a very strong, talented family. “They taught me that if I want something bad enough, I need to go for it and claim what is mine.”

Taking her family’s advice to heart, Tasheena has a simple recipe for her success: “First, I see it. Second, I learn it, and then I do it.”

“When I was young, I always knew I was destined for something great,” said Tasheena. She began by expressing herself through writing. Now at age 26, she has blossomed as an artist, and feeds her passion for creativity through beauty and esthetics, as well as music, theatre and videography. 

Based out of Fort Chipewyan, Tasheena is a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, and has been living in the Wood Buffalo region her whole life. “Growing up in Fort Chipewyan isn’t easy for artists. We don’t have many resources, so I taught myself through YouTube and learned from Indigenous artists on social media.”

“I focus on keeping the traditional lifestyle alive by incorporating Indigenous ways and current lifestyle into how I do my business,” said Taneesha. “I own a small beauty business called Beautee Vibes, and I do eyebrows and eyelashes while working on my new videography business, Big Dreams Productions.”  

Not only does Tasheena keep herself busy as an artist and entrepreneur, she also has a one-year-old daughter, “who has such a bright future ahead of her.”

Taneesha’s taste for videography began in high school. “Some of my friends introduced me to music and making videos, and that’s when it hit me that I love art.” 

In February, Tasheena was invited to collaborate with True North Aid for the Ballantyne Project, where she documented the donation of arts and craft supplies, toys and games for youth and elders. Typically, these resources are not readily available in Fort Chipewyan. 

“I was contacted by Arts Council Wood Buffalo to be the videographer,” said Tasheena. “I felt honored to get our community noticed. It was fun to work with our youth and leadership while making this video.”

Watch Tasheena’s video for The Ballantyne Project on Facebook: @TheBallantyneProject

Her reputation as an artist continues to grow, and she has also been invited to be the videographer for an upcoming event with Athabasca Tribal Council for National Indigenous Language Day. “I will be interviewing elders and others who are preserving Indigenous languages.”

“To me, being an artist in Wood Buffalo means being ambitious and getting my work out there as an Indigenous artist,” said Tasheena. “My goal is to give other Indigenous people hope and courage to take the chances to meet new people and go for any opportunity that’s given to them.”

Learn more about Taneesha’s art and beauty business on Facebook @BeauteeVibes or on TikTok @tasheenarae, and keep an eye out for updates on her new videography business, Big Dreams Productions.

Connect to the local arts community and follow Arts Council Wood Buffalo on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn (@artcouncilwb). Become an ACWB member for arts information, artistic development, resources and opportunities!

April 27, 2021

Nominations Now Open for Buffys 2021

Nominations, self-applications and sponsorship opportunities are now open for Buffys 2021 (a.k.a., Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards).

Arts Council Wood Buffalo is inviting residents from across the region to self-apply or nominate artists or groups for a Buffy in one or more category covering all artistic disciplines. Residents and community organizations are also invited to celebrate the benefits of local art through a number of sponsorship opportunities.

“Buffys 2021 will be our 6th annual arts awards showcase, which is designed to recognize and celebrate artistic excellence in our region,” says Programs Manager, Luay Eljamal. “Every day, our artists positively impact the people who live in Wood Buffalo from every demographic, and the Buffys showcase is a great way for us to highlight how the arts can benefit individuals, as well as society as a whole.”

The nomination process will lead to an awards showcase event scheduled for October 16, 2021, which will premiere online as a free cinematic experience. Each award recipient will be presented with a $250 cheque, a certificate, and an award (i.e., Buffy) that has been handcrafted by a local artist. Short-listed nominees will also be recognized and included in the showcase.

Twelve art award categories are available for public nomination, including Arts Administration, Arts Education, Craft, Creative Collaboration, Dance, Indigenous Arts, Literary Arts, Media Arts, Ken Flaherty Music Award, Rising Star, Performing Arts, and Visual Arts.

The deadline for nominations is July 15 at noon, and self-applications close on July 30 at noon. Good news for those who applied in 2020: the online portal will allow applications to copy their application and simply update accordingly.

The recognition given to each nominee and award recipient helps to raise their profile as professionals, add to their portfolios, and allow opportunities to thrive in our region and beyond.

A number of artist calls are currently active to help in the creation of Buffys 2021. Local artists are encouraged to apply for a number of paid opportunities available HERE.

“We couldn’t hold a Buffys showcase without the support of local community organizations, leaders and stakeholders,” says ACWB Executive Director, Liana Wheeldon. “You are a fundamental part of our arts community. We’re grateful for your ongoing support of the Arts Awards and for believing in the benefits of the arts for communities and the local economy.”

In 2020, the Buffys provided 80 paid work opportunities for artists, and picked up almost 14,000 views for the event premiere. A variety of sponsorship levels are available to allow organizations of all types and sizes to participate. 

For more information, or to secure your sponsor opportunity, contact Liana Wheeldon, Executive Director: [email protected] or 587-674-1625 x. 100.

Arts Council Wood Buffalo is committed to equity and inclusion, and encourages applications and nominations from culturally diverse, deaf, disability and official language minority artists, groups and organizations. Arts Council recognizes and affirms the treaty rights of the Indigenous peoples of this land, and encourages applications and nominations from First Nations, Inuit, and Métis individuals, groups, and organizations.

To learn more about the award categories, dates and deadlines, and to nominate or self-apply, visit artscouncilwb.ca/buffys.

February 16, 2021

Announcing artist calls for Buffys 2021 and Annual Report

Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) has announced numerous artist calls aiming to hire local talent to support the creation of Buffys 2021 and ACWB’s 2020 Annual Report

“Creation of the Buffys is a collaborative, community project,” said Programs Manager, Luay Eljamal. “Through the artist call process, we invite artists to apply for paid positions to create various aspects of the arts awards. Not only does the final product result in a celebration of our local arts community, these calls are an opportunity for artists to develop their practice and build their professional portfolio.”

Current artist calls include a Graphic Designer, Set Designer, Screenwriter, Arts Awards Creator, and multiple Videographers to support the creation of Buffys 2021. In addition, ACWB is looking to hire a Graphic Artist to submit the cover art for ACWB’s Annual Report. All opportunities include artist fees for service. More artist calls related to Buffys 2021 will be announced in the coming months.

“The Buffys is one of our biggest events, and we love working with local artists to bring it to life,” said Liana Wheeldon, Executive Director. “In 2020, the Buffys provided 80 paid work opportunities for artists, and picked up almost 14,000 views for the event premiere. Each Buffys event is a unique opportunity for artists to showcase their work in collaboration with several talented individuals. We encourage all local artists to apply for whichever artist calls best suits their talents.”

Current artist calls for Buffys 2021 are on ACWB’s website at artscouncilwb.ca/opportunities-calls. Artists are also encouraged to watch for upcoming calls for performers and emcees for the awards showcase.

Buffys 2021 is scheduled for Saturday, October 16, and will be broadcast free online as a cinematic experience.

Midnight Steampunk, the theme for Buffys 2020, served as the springboard of a raucous storyline written by Elizabeth Wells and Zachary Barrett, who hosted the show. Rob Hickey, who designed characters based on Wells and Barrett, along with Wendell the Raven, did graphic design.

The Buffy Awards themselves were handcrafted works of resin art created by local artist, Ambreen Ehtisham. Set and properties were designed by Ekaterina Petukhova.

Performances included a diverse range of dance pieces, original and classic music, comedy, and theatre supported by visual arts, functional sets, costumes, props and puppets, all of which were tied together by local video artists Matthew Lorenz, Matthew Piercey, and Neville Video Productions to create a cinematic steampunk experience.

The Buffys is the local version of the Oscars and is an annual program held each October to recognize and celebrate excellence in various areas of the arts. This awards showcase is an investment in the future of the growing local arts community by supporting the region’s most exceptional artists through appreciation and employment opportunities, and connecting artists to the wider community.

For the full list of award categories, sponsors and support opportunities, and for more information about Arts Council and the Buffys, visit artscouncilwb.ca/buffys.

Cover art for Arts Council’s 2019 Annual Report was created by local artist, Liam Mojique Legault, and can be downloaded from ACWB’s website.  Cover art submissions for ACWB ‘s 2020 Annual Report closes on Monday, March 1, 2021 at 4:30 p.m.

ACWB‘s website also lists ongoing artist calls for local, provincial and national Opportunities & Calls, which is updated regularly and includes job opportunities, grants, contests, RFPs, and RFQs.

Local groups and organizations can also share arts opportunities through ACWB’s website by contacting [email protected]

February 9, 2021