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Renaissance period: The Pemberton Arts Council looks to revitalize its programming

With new director, membership structure and spate of events, this summer looks to be a big one for the PAC 
The Pemberton Arts Council is bringing back the Mountain Muse Festival in June. The Courageous Mountain Rangers are pictured.

In her three years at Arts Whistler, Anna Lynch wore a lot of hats. Officially speaking, her title was venue, sales and services supervisor, “but I had an unofficial title of master of organized chaos,” she says with a laugh. 

Lynch will have plenty of chances to put her distinct skills to the test as the Pemberton Arts Council’s (PAC) newly-minted executive director, taking over for Karen Love, who left the position last summer to pursue her painting. Between Love’s departure and ever-shifting COVID-19 health orders, the PAC, like so many other arts organizations, hit a bit of a lull.  

“There were a lot of projects that [we] hoped [would] take place last year, but with all the provincial health order changes, just weren’t possible,” explains Lynch, who took on the role in December. “This year we’re bringing all of these projects to life and hopefully revitalizing the Pemberton arts and culture scene.” 

First up is an initiative called the Outside Voices Mural Project that will see a new mural go up around the community every year. This year’s mural is slated for the facilities shop at the Pemberton Medical Clinic. The seven-by-five-metre piece will enjoy a prominent position in town, as it faces the road as you come into the downtown area. Other than that, there’s no hard and fast design criteria, and priority will be given to Pemberton-based artists—although it’s also open to Whistler and Squamish muralists. 

“We’re open to everything. We want people to run wild with their imaginations,” Lynch says. “It would be great if the design could reflect the culture of Pemberton’s community. We want to see as many diverse designs as possible.” 

This summer will also see the return of the Mountain Muse Festival, a local music festival that had its inaugural edition in 2019 before being shut down by the pandemic. Scheduled for June 25 and 26 at the Community Barn, the first night will be a 19-plus event, with bar service, while the second will be a free, family daytime show. 

A callout for local musicians and bands will go out soon, notes Lynch, who added that there are a few other events on tap for this summer that she’s excited to share more about once details are finalized. 

Lynch has big dreams for the arts council, including expanding the PAC’s membership. To that end, the council is lowering its annual membership fees next month from $25 to $15, and is opening things up to not just artists and performers, but anyone in the community. Lynch is hopeful to grow the current membership from 45 to 150 by the end of the year. Members get direct access to call for entries, discounts on local programming, events, and at local businesses, and voting rights at the council’s AGM. 

“We’re making it more affordable and inclusive so it’s open to everyone,” Lynch says. “At this time it’s just open to artists, but we’re going to change that so it’s open to anyone, whether they are a creative person or just an art lover or a groupie who just wants to come to see our shows.” 

In the long-term, Lynch has grand ambitions of the PAC rivalling its Sea to Sky neighbour over the next decade. 

“It would be amazing to get to the size of Arts Whistler in the next 10 years. That’s a little way off but that’s the end goal,” she says. “I think it would just be nice to grow it and have more people connect with it. I know there’s a community need for kids’ programming, so I’d love to be able to provide something along those lines and be able to give something back to the Pemberton community to help enrich it. We’d just like more people to participate, have a go, do what they love and be creative.” 

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