Peninsula Arts Council gives back to local students

Annual gala event raises money for local school arts programs.

Chair of Saanich School Board Victoria Martin

Three years ago, a gala concert was created to highlight the arts in local schools and has become a part of the annual ArtSea Festival on the Saanich Peninsula.

On Jan. 12, proceeds from the concert event in 2015 were presented by interim President of the Community Arts Council of the Saanich Peninsula (CACSP), Danny Daniels to School District 63 (Saanich). A cheque for $12,000 was presented this week, along with two individual cheques of $500 to Stelly’s and Parkland secondary schools.

Three years ago, CACSP was working with the Sidney Concert Band, Allegro Performing Arts Centre and Via Choralis to present a gala event to help kick off the annual ArtSea Fest. The next year, they did it again, but that time, Norbert Ziegler, who ran the Parkland Jazz Band worked with Daniels. They had the jazz band from Stelly’s join in to participate this past fall.

“The level … of perfection that they build into their program because of the various grants and so on, is really good…” said Daniels, adding CACSP has been able to make donations to the school district for arts in the schools, thanks to that gala event. The amounts donated have increased each year since they began. This year, with an additional grant from the Deep Cove Folk Society, they were able to make their largest cheque presentation yet.

As Parkland and Stelly’s were such a big part of last year’s gala, including bands, dancers and actors, two grants of $500 were presented to both schools.

When it comes to the importance of arts in schools, Daniels said he’s a supporter.

He added people cannot ignore the whole cultural context of music and drama and all the things that make a person whole.

“And so that’s really the emphasis that the arts council puts on this to enable the school district and the schools to do those things that they wouldn’t be able to do under the normal funding circumstances.”

The money goes a long way for the very grateful music teachers at both schools.

Ziegler said it’s nice to be recognized and by such a supportive arts council. He said the money will allow Stelly’s to bring in guest artists and clinicians.

Musical theatre teacher at Stelly’s, Alicia Bartlett said the money will enable them to bring clinicians in to help the teachers grow as well. She said it would be neat to have teachers skilled in Bollywood, Flamenco, Ballroom and other dance styles.

Music Director at Parkland, Cristina Sousa said the cheque was “super generous” and that there’s always things you can do when it comes to where the money will go.

Also going towards clinicians, Sousa said the school is in need of new percussion equipment like mallets, sticks  and their guitars need to be restrung, so the money will help.

As for what’s to come this year, Daniels said CACSP is now looking at having a spring version of the ArtSea Festival along with the one in the fall.

“This year we want to bring in different elements so … we want to have two festivals and certainly the schools will be contributing to the spring one,” he said.

“I mean the whole thing, when you see not only the music or excellence they do but all the vibrancy that goes into their performances, I mean it really is a riot, its great!.

“And because of this, I mean the kids are getting that sense that music is not just all the rock and roll stuff (and)other aspects of music are fun.

“You know, they really are and it all adds to their school experience.”