Arts Champions

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Arts Champions come in all different types and sizes including individual and business sponsors, donors, partners, volunteers, and organizations incorporating the arts into their initiatives and programs. Wood Buffalo is rich with arts champions and we want to acknowledge the amazing support from these individuals and groups. Here’s to you, arts champs and to a thriving arts community in Wood Buffalo!

Give on Giving Tuesday

#GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving and unity. On May 5, 2020, all Canadians are invited to demonstrate the power of kindness and generosity as part of an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.

Giving Tuesday through the Arts in Wood Buffalo

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 ongoing response to COVID-19, recovery from flooding in downtown Fort McMurray, and the well-being of residents across the region.

Creativity and artistic activities are effective strategies for making sense of chaos. You can support yourself and others through the arts by being an ACWB member, sponsor, donor, or volunteer. Take part in this regional movement and ACW-Be an Arts Champion for Wood Buffalo.

What is an Arts Champion?

An Arts Champion for the Wood Buffalo region is an ACWB member, sponsor, donor, or volunteer. See below for the six ways you can become an Arts Champion.

Why be an Arts Champion?

Countless studies show that the arts contribute to a better quality of life. Arts and creativity also provide opportunity for professional development, and healthy ways to bring communities together – even at a distance.

The arts help make a space for everyone’s voice. We can all be part of the conversations that will make our lives better and create equal access to programming in our region, so we are all on equal footing to be successful.

The support of Arts Champions will help ACWB advocate to all levels of government for the arts. In addition, Arts Champions help ACWB to work with other arts organizations across the province and country to support the Wood Buffalo region. 

Not an Artist, but want to be an Arts Champion?

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.

ACWB Membership Bank

Everyone can be an Arts Champion, but not everyone has the financial means to support the arts. So we have created a new Membership Bank to help ensure everyone can be an Arts Champion. Financial donations made to ACWB in May 2020 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.

How to Access the Membership Bank

Are you a Wood Buffalo resident with a desire to be an Arts Champion? Send an email to the ACWB Engagement Coordinator, Hanna Fridhed, at or call 587-674-1625 x.101 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.

Tax Benefits for Donations

Financial donations to the Membership Bank will result in two things: 1) membership opportunities for those that don’t currently have a membership; 2) a tax receipt for donations of $50 and more, so it can be claimed on your tax return.

Six Ways to be an Arts Champion

1) Donate to ACWBWe’re a registered charity and you’ll get a tax receipt for donations of $50 and above. Plus that donation will go towards our Membership Bank. Click here to donate.

2) Sponsor programs or Awards. You can sponsor an award for the annual Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards (held in the fall each year). You or your business 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 or (587) 674-1625 ext. 102. To sponsor an award or program, visit our Support Us page to see opportunities.

3) Buy a membership. Buy a membership for yourself or your organization. You can get one for yourself, gift one to a fellow artist, or even get a membership for your organization.

4) Renew your membership. Due to the financial pressures on the community from the COVID-19 situation, we have been deferring active membership renewal payments until November 30, 2020. Members that were active before May 2020 will remain an active member until November 30. We’ll follow up with extended members before memberships expire to help you stay connected to the arts community. You’re also welcome to pay for your membership renewal as you normally would, should it expire before November.

5) Apply to the Membership Bank. Do you want to become a member, but can’t afford membership fees? Send an email to the ACWB Engagement Coordinator, Hanna Fridhed, at or call 587-674-1625 x.101 to access the bank of free 1-year memberships. Hanna will get in touch with you so you can register (for free), and we can get your contact information to activate your membership.

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.

Thank You for being an Arts Champion

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 about how to ACW-Be an Arts Champion?

Contact the ACWB Engagement Coordinator, Hanna Fridhed, at or 587-674-1625 ext.101.

May 1, 2020

Thank you to our Arts Champions!

Centre Stage with Arts Champions

Written by Christina Rolufs, Communications Manager


When people think of artists, they usually think of the art that is produced, but rarely do they see all of the impact that one artist creates while pursuing their artistic practice. As Artists, these individuals contribute to society on many levels as small business owners, arts administrators, volunteers, advocates, teachers, and influential voices for children, youth and adults. In jobs or careers outside of their artistic practice, artists are human capital who come to the workplace with creative problem solving skills and out of the box thinking, who connect unseen dots and create unique ideas. Artists drive innovation and create economic growth. On a societal level, artists use their artform to create conversation, connect different community groups, drive change, and instill pride in where they live.


As January is Month of the Artist in Alberta, Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) is taking the time to acknowledge and bring to the forefront the artists in our community that have a direct impact on ACWB, and in turn, make our region a remarkable place to live. ACWB’s volunteer Board of Directors are at the forefront of creating change in our community through their directional governance with ACWB. Each board member is an artist or arts enthusiast representing a distinct artistic discipline or sector. They are a diverse group who contribute to a strong strategic direction for ACWB. They are true champions, not only contributing to the arts on an individual level, but as volunteers, donating their time to help everyone in this community access the arts. 


From the five original Arts Champions who banded together several years ago to form the Arts Council, to the eleven Directors currently sitting at the ACWB board table, and every board member in between, ACWB thanks you for everything you contributed and have accomplished. We hope you take great pride in your contribution to the arts and the development of our arts community. 


Liana Wheeldon, Executive Director of ACWB gives her heartfelt appreciation to the Board and to all artists in our community for their relentless pursuit of their artistic practice and dedication to the arts in our region. “I am continuously inspired by the breadth of talent and arts experiences that we get to enjoy in our region. That some of these inspiring individuals take time out of their busy lives to help drive awareness and appreciation of the arts as volunteers is truly a gift. Artists often have to work at their craft during the ‘in between’ hours after family, full-time careers, volunteer work, and other responsibilities. I truly appreciate that our board members share those valuable moments, that could be spent creating for themselves, in the pursuit of creating a remarkable quality of life for everyone in our region.”


To learn more about Arts Council Wood Buffalo, ACWB Board of Directors, and the work we do in the community visit While you’re there, visit the online Artist Directory to learn about the different Artists in our community! Follow @artscouncilwb on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn for updates and news.

Original article was released in the January 2020 issue of snapd Wood Buffalo.

January 2, 2020

ACWB flies with the YMM Airport

Arts Council Wood Buffalo is grateful to have built an ongoing relationship with the Fort McMurray International Airport. We would love to acknowledge the Airport’s continued support of the arts community in Wood Buffalo.

Even when the Fort McMurray International Airport (YMM) was being designed and built as far back as 2013-2014, art was considered an important component.

“YMM’s bold and iconic art program gives passengers a strong sense of place and connects them to the passion and energy of Fort McMurray,” they noted on the Airport’s website

“Selected artists in Fort McMurray and Western Canada have been commissioned to create public art pieces to enrich and elevate the airport experience for passengers.” 

In addition to visual art and history, YMM also hosts live music throughout the year, giving paid opportunities to local artists and providing entertainment to their guests

In 2017, YMM reached out to ACWB with the hopes of creating an Arts & Culture Program Strategy. Goals included supporting the arts in Wood Buffalo and utilizing the arts to encourage more visitation to the airport.

Joanne Meredith, Manager of Marketing, Communications & Experience at the Fort McMurray International Airport, said this about her experience working with ACWB:

“We reached out to Arts Council Wood Buffalo for guidance and assistance in creating our Arts & Culture Program Strategy, which is a five-year plan to incorporate arts and culture into the airport experience for the benefit of visitors and community members. Arts Council’s guidance was valuable in assisting the Airport in creating a plan that is achievable, sustainable and supportive of the community as a whole. Beyond the assistance with the development of the strategy, we frequently reach out to Arts Council for advice on the implementation of our Arts & Culture Program to ensure we are strengthening and supporting the arts community with each stage of our strategy.”

Fast forward to 2019, the Fort McMurray International Airport came on as the Midnight Sponsor of the 2019 Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards, a further investment in the work of Arts Council and the arts community. Arts Award recipients were promoted on the airport’s advertising screens above the luggage carousels and on the screens in the departure areas throughout December, one of their busiest times of year. 

Arts Council Wood Buffalo thanks the Fort McMurray International Airport for their continued support of the arts in our region and for being true arts champions.

Photograph – RJ Steenstra, YMM Airport speaking at the 2019 Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards. Photography by Stacey Northcotte Photography.

December 4, 2019

20 Years of Supporting Dance in Wood Buffalo

September 2019’s Centre Stage with Kim Hurley

This is a very special month for dance in Wood Buffalo, as Generation Dance Studio (GDS) celebrates their 20th anniversary! With long-time resident Kim Hurley at the helm, this studio continues to be a staple in our arts community, located downtown in the River City Centre. “Dance is so relevant in Wood Buffalo and I couldn’t be more delighted to help impart the passion for dance in the next generations,” says Kim. “The art community here is small, but the passion for the arts is gigantic. For me, being a dance artist in this community allows me to instill the art form into our youth and young adults, while feeding the drive for the art of dance for myself.” Dance has a very close emotional meaning for Kim: “creating dance helps me release feelings – mostly joy, but it is also a great catalyst for times of sadness, frustration and many other emotions we encounter.”

When she started teaching in Fort McMurray 20 years ago, she never dreamed of the impact her passion for dance would instill. “When it first began, I never would have thought that I would have created the empire that I have. Even using that word makes me chuckle,” she says. “But it’s true, I am so proud that I gave my life to this community and that I have inspired many to do the same. My students have left GDS with more skills than just dance moves; they have left with leadership, love, kindness, work ethic, passion, direction, and goals. For that I am so grateful.” Teaching dance has lead to a mentorship relationship between Kim and many of her students: “there is a wonderful feeling I get when a student accomplishes a step or works on a goal and succeeds. But most importantly, when that six-year-old hugs you and says ‘I love you Miss Kim, thank you for teaching me’, that’s worth more than any award, medal, sparkly costume, or money in the world.”

Generation Dance Studio always has a lot on the go. Their events span from the community- focused event ‘Northern Dance Off’ in March at Keyano Theatre, a competition open to the whole dance community, to the GDS focused ‘Young Choreographers Ball’ in May, and their ever-popular ‘Year End Show’ in June. Kim will also be returning to Keyano Theatre this winter, as she is the Choreographer for their upcoming production of ‘Flashdance The Musical’. She previously choreographed stage hits such as ‘Footloose’, ‘Cabaret’, ‘All Shook Up’, and ‘Hometown The Musical’.

To celebrate their 20th anniversary, GDS is offering an excellent opportunity for new dancers and existing recreational dancers to buy one class at the studio and get a class free of charge. “This is a way for us to give back to the community,” Kim says. “We are looking forward to many more years of dance instruction in this community.”

Find out more about Generation Dance Studio, their upcoming promotions, dance classes, and shows by visiting Find out how you can be involved in the vibrant Wood Buffalo arts community by following @ArtsCouncilWB us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Written by Hanna Fridhed, Engagement Coordinator

September 1, 2019

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