Home » Resources » ACWB Blog

Arts Council Wood Buffalo Welcomes Resident Artists from Across Alberta and Canada

Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) welcomes visiting artists Dan Cardinal McCartney and Michelle Wilson through the 2024 Suncor Indigenous Artist and Artist in Residence Programs, respectively. The Resident Artists will spend three weeks immersed in our region, creating work inspired by the environment, culture and people of Wood Buffalo.


“We look forward to the knowledge that Dan and Michelle will share with Wood Buffalo through their residencies,” says ACWB Executive Director Liana Wheeldon. 


The Artist in Residence Program follows a traditional residency model, in which professional artists spend time creating work inspired by the environment, culture, and people of Wood Buffalo. 


The Suncor Indigenous Artist Program endeavours to make the program more equitable and accessible to Indigenous artists. Both streams run concurrently, offering opportunities for collaboration and broader learning. 


The Resident Artists will travel to Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo from across Alberta and Canada, with Dan coming from Calgary and Michelle from London, Ontario. 


Both Dan and Michelle will be spending three weeks in Wood Buffalo, including a week in Fort Chipewyan for each artist. During this time, they will each lead workshops in Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan, engage with the community, and work within art studio spaces located inside Arts Council Wood Buffalo. The three weeks will culminate in a final showcase featuring the works of both artists on May 16th at the Keyano Theatre & Arts Centre. 


The Artist in Residence Program and Suncor Indigenous Artist Program foster innovation by exposing our community to new perspectives, artistic ideas and techniques. The programs also bring awareness to our region in the broader provincial and national arts communities. 


Arts Council Wood Buffalo looks forward to welcoming Michelle Wilson and Dan Cardinal McCartney from April 30–May 17, 2024. Follow Arts Council Wood Buffalo to get the latest information about opportunities to connect with our 2024 Artists in Residence. 

April 22, 2024

Reduce, Recycle, Re-wear: Clothing Altering Workshop

Arts Council Wood Buffalo invites you to join us at our new office, located at 9908 Manning Avenue, for Reduce, Recycle, Re-wear, a clothing altering workshop.


Experienced and aspiring DIY-ers alike are welcome to join as we explore ways of altering and up-cycling clothing. Guest Speaker Rachelle Solbak will share about her experience with clothing alteration and show some of her creations as we gather to share ideas, be inspired, and express ourselves.


Join us on Saturday, April 20 from 10:00am-1:00pm at Arts Council Wood Buffalo (9908 Manning Avenue, Fort McMurray)


Participants should bring a garment they are interested in altering, up-cycling materials (such as buttons, patches, lace, etc), a sewing machine (if they wish to sew), and an open mind! Sewing experience is not required. Arts Council Wood Buffalo is grateful to partner with What’s in Store to offer each participant a 15% off coupon to thrift their up-cycling treasures.


This workshop is free to attend and is open to anyone age 12 and up. Email to secure your spot today!

April 15, 2024

Alberta Culture Days 2024: Funding Information Session

Alberta Culture Days is a September-long celebration of arts, heritage, diversity and community-spirit featuring free activities for Albertans to enjoy. It is an opportunity to discover, experience and celebrate the Month of the Artist through local events and activities, in-person and online across the province.

Arts Council Wood Buffalo stewards funds collected from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo among individual artists, groups and organizations who wish to host free arts & culture-based events for residents of Wood Buffalo.


Join ACWB staff on Thursday, April 25 to learn more about applying for funds to support your Alberta Culture Days 2024 events. This information session is free to attend and is open to anyone interested in applying for Alberta Culture Days funding through Arts Council Wood Buffalo. Seating is limited, so we ask that you pre-register to secure your spot.


Register here!

March 12, 2024

Nominations are OPEN for Buffys 2024: Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards

 Nominations are now open for the 2024 Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards


The Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards, lovingly nicknamed  the Buffys, is our region’s premier arts event. The Buffys recognizes the artists and arts organizations demonstrating outstanding achievement and contribution to Wood Buffalo, as well as the vital role the arts play in making our community a place to call home. 


This year, for the first time ever, the prestigious Arts Champion and Lifetime Achievement Awards will be open for public nomination. In the past, nominations for these awards were brought forward by the Arts Council Wood Buffalo Board of Directors, who then also selected the recipients through internal adjudication.


“Opening the Arts Champion and Lifetime Achievement Awards to public nomination will broaden the scope of who is recognized at the Buffys,” says ACWB Programs Manager Jenna Fewer. “We’re excited to hear the stories of artists who we might not otherwise see, but whose work deserves recognition.” 


In addition to the fourteen awards that have been presented annually over the past 8 years, Arts Council Wood Buffalo is pleased to announce the addition of the new Youth Arts Leadership Award.  


The Youth Arts Leadership Award recognises the outstanding leadership of an artist between the ages of 12 and 17. The artist could be working in any discipline and must demonstrate leadership among their peers. Leadership can be defined as guiding, inspiring, and empowering others; setting a positive example; fostering a supportive environment; advocacy for or through the arts; and facilitating growth and innovation within the artistic community.


“By creating the Youth Arts Leadership Award, we want to give the young people in our community more opportunities to be recognised for their remarkable contributions to the creative ecology in Wood Buffalo,” says Jenna Fewer, Programs Manager. 


Nominations for the Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards can be made through the online submission form. Artists are also encouraged to self-apply to discipline-specific awards through our Buffys online portal



The Buffys 2024 Award Categories are: 


Arts Administration Award
Arts Education Award presented by CEDA
Craft Award
Creative Collaboration
Dance Award
Indigenous Artist Award presented by McMurray Métis
Ken Flaherty Music Award presented by the Flaherty Family
Literary Arts Award
Media Arts Award
Performing Arts Award
Rising Star Award
Visual Arts Award
Arts Champion Award
Lifetime Achievement Award
Youth Arts Leadership Award presented by Muessle Flett Law



The deadline to nominate an artist or arts organization is June 17, 2024 at noon. Entry materials and self-applications must be submitted by June 28, 2024 at noon. 


All award recipients will be announced live at the Buffys 2024: Midnight in Miami Gala on October 19, 2024. This year’s gala will be bigger and more glamorous than ever before, at our new venue, Keyano Theatre and Arts Centre! 


For more information about the Buffys, visit Opportunities to support  Buffys 2024 through sponsorship are still available. To become a sponsor, email today! 

March 4, 2024

Arts Council Wood Buffalo Winter Makers Market

Arts Council Wood Buffalo invites you to shop local this holiday season at our Winter Makers Market!


The Winter Makers Market features exclusively Arts Council Wood Buffalo Members as vendors, selling locally created artwork and handcrafted artisan goods. The event takes place Sunday, December 3rd at the beautiful Doug Barnes Cabin from 10:00am-3:00pm. Entry to the Winter Makers Market is by donation, in support of Arts Council Wood Buffalo. People who donate $10 and over will receive an exclusive ACWB tote bag. 


Winter Makers Market Needle Felting Workshops


As a part of the Winter Makers Market, we are offering two Needle Felting Workshops taught by Meagan Magson of Small Pals. Meagan was the recipient of the Craft Award at the 2023 Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards. At the Winter Makers Market, she will teach workshop participants the art of needle felting, leading everyone in the creation of their own unique holiday ornament.




This workshop is suitable for people of all skill levels and is particularly great for families to learn together. Participants ages 10 and over are welcome to attend.



The Winter Makers Market features something for everyone – from beading and jewelry to fine art, woodworking, and more. We can’t wait to see you on December 3rd!

November 29, 2023

Arts INC – Project Background

Project Background


Arts Council Wood Buffalo is in the process of creating an arts incubator space in downtown Fort McMurray. Arts INC will be designed to support and nurture a diverse range of arts and culture for residents across the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo region.

This multi-year project began in 2018 with the Arts Recovery Project, funded by the Canadian Red Cross following the 2016 wildfire. Engagement with artists and community-at-large demonstrated the need for an affordable space for artists to work and create. Review the Post Fire Recovery in the Arts Strategic Plan to learn more about the history and process that planted the seed for Arts Inc.

In early 2020, ACWB received funding from Community Foundations of Canada via the Investment Readiness Program (IRP) to conduct a feasibility study to determine if and how the former Landmark cinema building could be repurposed for an arts incubator, identify opportunities and challenges, and begin the process of envisioning and designing the project. Arts Council worked with Akron Engineering on this feasibility study, and engaged with artists, residents, stakeholders, and businesses to get feedback on the project to evaluate the benefits for everyone in our region.

The study was completed in early 2021.

Feasibility Study Findings: Former Landmark Cinema Building

After engaging with the public in Fall 2020 and completing a feasibility study with Akron Engineering in March 2021, the findings are now available. Review the Arts Incubator Feasibility Study.

“To conclude, based on Akron’s comprehensive research, which is summarized in the Feasibility Study Report, we confirm that the former downtown Landmark Cinema Building is an excellent choice to be repurposed to an arts incubator for Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo.  When completed, this great initiative will be a value-added asset for the community and the fruition of Arts Council Wood Buffalo’s Strategic Priorities.” (Arts Incubator Feasibility Study, pg. XI)

“The Cinema Building can be efficiently remodeled to fit the needs of ACWB to house an arts incubator space that can be used as a centre for artists to gather and work, a venue for performances, workshops and galleries, a community gathering space and to host special events.” (Arts Incubator Feasibility Study, pg. 113)

Public Engagement Findings

“Based on the many positive responses to the engagement survey, it is evident that many of our community residents appreciate the need for an arts incubator space and want to participate in it. Having this project come to fruition will be a red-letter day, as there will be a time when forces come together to create something not only creatively impressive, but economically vibrant and self-sustaining.” (Arts Incubator Feasibility Study, pg. 113)

Highlights – Survey Response Statistics:

  • Public engagement survey ran from Sept. 16 – Oct. 6
  • 410 individuals responded to the survey
  • 83.9% agree that an arts incubator would be beneficial for the Wood Buffalo region
  • 67.5% were not satisfied with the types of arts facilities currently available in the Wood Buffalo region
  • 58% were not satisfied with the arts, cultural and entertainment opportunities in the region
  • 45.9% did not self-identify as an artist
  • 43.4% self-identified as an artist

Review more Engagement Survey Findings here.

Community Benefits

“It has been proven in other communities in Canada, and around the globe, that art spaces create huge benefits to the residents economically, socially, and ensure sustainable growth. Our October 2020 engagement survey revealed the excitement of the community to have an arts incubator space developed in the region.

Communities that have embraced art incubators…are driving new business, spurring innovation, attracting talent and investment and, in the process, accelerating community development and improving the overall quality of life for their residents.” (Arts Incubator Feasibility Study, pg. 113)

In addition, Arts INC is in line with a number of goals and objectives as identified by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo:


The first milestone to purchase the future Arts INC property on Manning Avenue in downtown Fort McMurray has been accomplished. Now, formal design and planning will be done to repurpose the property into Arts INC as envisioned by our community.

Based on the Feasibility Study, the current cost estimate for this project is $14.7M to purchase and repurpose the property and get it into operation.  

Learn More About This ProjectFAQs

Q – What’s an arts incubator?

– An arts incubator is a purpose-built space that can be used as a centre for artists to gather and work, a venue for performances, workshops and galleries, a community gathering space, and even host events and festivals. Examples include cSPACE King Edward in Calgary or Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design in Nova Scotia.

Q – Where will Arts INC be located?

– The future Arts INC property is located in downtown Fort McMurray on Manning Avenue. The goal is to remodel the building into an arts incubator space that can support arts, culture, business, and the community at large.

Q – Why did you choose that location?

– The former cinema building is no longer in use and has now been purchased by ACWB. The property presents many options and opportunities that are closely linked to the arts incubator concept, including a theatre, movie and rehearsal space, large rooms, and outdoor space for parking, markets, and events.

In addition, the building is located in the downtown area, which has been identified by local government as an area for redevelopment. Findings from public engagement by the Municipality has shown that this area is ideal for arts and cultural space as well as economic development. Arts INC will be a catalyst for downtown revitalization.

Q – What is a feasibility study?

A – A feasibility study will help determine if and how the former cinema building could be repurposed for an arts incubator, identify opportunities and challenges, and begin the process of envisioning and designing the project.

Q – Where did you get funding for the feasibility study? 

A – In early 2020, ACWB received funding from Community Foundations of Canada via the Investment Readiness Program (IRP) to conduct a feasibility study to determine if and how the cinema building could be repurposed for an arts incubator, identify opportunities and challenges, and begin the process of envisioning and designing the project. Arts Council worked with Akron Engineering on this feasibility study, and engaged with artists, residents, stakeholders, and businesses to get feedback on the project to evaluate the benefits for everyone in our region.

Q – Where do you plan to get money to pay for Arts INC?

A – Part of the feasibility study is determining the cost of this project. From there, Arts Council developed a Fund Development Plan.

Additionally, there are a number of grants available provincially, federally, and through private corporations that support the development of arts infrastructure.  Examples of potential funders could be Canadian Heritage and Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

Q – Will any you be using municipal tax dollars to fund Arts INC?

A – Arts Council is honoured to have the support of our municipal government for this project. On June 29, 2022, Mayor and Council unanimously voted to grant $5 million to fund Arts INC.

Arts Council is always open to discuss opportunities and synergies with individuals and organizations that could benefit everyone in the region.

Q – I live in a rural community. How will Arts INC benefit me?

A – Arts INC is located in Fort McMurray, but we welcome participation from all communities and groups from across the region.

Once established, Arts INC will use a “spoke and hub model” to provide services to rural and Indigenous communities.  The Artist in Residence program, for example, could be inclusive of the rural areas – artists would spend time mentoring residents in rural communities, but the artists would create their work at Arts INC in Fort McMurray.

Q – How can I help make this project a reality?

A – Anyone wishing to donate to this project may do so through our website – donations $50 and over are eligible for a Charitable Donation Receipt and donors can specify which program, project, or service they wish their donation dollars to support, including Arts INC.

Q – How much will Arts INC cost to build?

A – Based on the Feasibility Study, the current cost estimate for this project is $14.7M to purchase and repurpose the property and get it into operations.

Q – How much does the property cost?

A – A fair market assessment determined the value of the property and was completed by an independent third-party assessor.

Q – How much will Arts INC cost to operate?

A – It is difficult to know what the operation costs will be before a detailed design of Arts INC has been finalized. We are working with Project Management professionals and consultants to better understand costs in greater detail.

Arts Council has also created a 7-Year projected operating plan and budget to ensure success of the project.

Q – Will Arts INC earn revenue?

A – Yes. One of Arts Council’s financial goals for this project is that Arts INC be self-sustaining within 4-5 years of opening its doors to the community. This means that Arts INC would eventually operate based on revenues earned from serving the community, as well as from sponsorships and donors.

Q – What will happen with the profits/revenue earned by Arts INC?

A – Arts INC is based on a business model known as a ‘social enterprise.’ Social enterprises are revenue-generating businesses with a twist. A social enterprise is a revenue-generating business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to deliver profit to shareholders and owners. (Definition provided by BC Centre for Social Enterprise.)

November 19, 2020

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 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 ( 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.


Contact Akshaya Lakshmi, our Communications Coordinator at 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.



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 ( 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 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, 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:

  • Event theme and creative team reveal of the 6th annual Buffys: Arts Awards, as well as an exclusive short promo video by M’Guphynn Media.
  • Virtual performance by Indigenous drummers from Fort Chipewyan playing and singing an honour song
  • Vote on a Special Resolution to adopt new Bylaws for ACWB:
    • View a summary of changes in the proposed new bylaws.
    • At least 156 members must be in attendance (or by proxy) to constitute quorum for this vote on new bylaws – scroll down to see why we need to update our bylaws.
    • Be sure to fill out and send in your Proxy Voting Form (even if you plan to attend the AGM). This will ensure your vote still counts in case you can’t make it.
  • Call for Board Member – Director, Literary Arts:
    • We’ll be voting for the Director of Literary Arts.
    • Arts Council’s Board of Directors recommends that Kevin Thornton continue on as Director, Literary Arts, but this position is up for election if others wish to run.
    • Meet our current Board of Directors.
  • Member Q&A session at the close of the meeting – submit your questions in advance to
  • Last year’s AGM was Winner of Best Virtual Conference in Best of YMM 2021.

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

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

Any questions?


We look forward to seeing you there.

Link to AGM Zoom Meeting

June 1, 2021