Each January, many of us draft a list of our resolutions, those things we hope to change or have always wanted to learn. Yet somehow, too many of us are caught saying, “I’ve always wanted to try that.”
Whether it be learning to play an instrument, join a music, dance, or theatre group, or learn to paint, sculpt, draw, or write, the West Shore offers a rich array of opportunities for individuals of all ages and abilities to become involved in the arts.
Studies have shown that the arts can have a profound impact on the mental health and wellness of individuals. “We hear a lot nowadays about the right-left brain crossover, and how involvement in the arts is key to enabling that,” explained Stephen Green, dean of the Victoria Conservatory of Music. “When it comes to music, years of research have shown that we should actively engage with music making on a regular basis, to fully realize its power to improve our health and well-being, and to unlock our expressive and creative self,” he continued.
The Victoria Conservatory of Music offers programming for all ages, levels, and interests at its Westhills-Langford location. “Connecting with one’s creative and expressive self through music is easy to do, whether it be through joining the VCM’s Langford Lake Voices, trying a new instrument, guided by one of the VCM’s expert instructors, or for the very young, exploring music, animals and creatures as part of the Families Making Music classes,” Green added.
For those who have always wanted to try their hand at the visual arts, the Coast Collective Art Centre is a meeting place where creative skills and ideas are shared. “Coast Collective is a not-for-profit organization that is run by member artists and community volunteers,” said Kathryn Fudge, board treasurer. “It has a gift shop featuring artwork by over 100 local artists and a gallery with a constantly changing roster of shows. There is never an admission fee.”
“Coast Collective is raising awareness of the healthful benefits of the arts by making them more available to experience year round.” The centre offers a diverse array of workshops for children, youth, and adults. Adult workshops are offered in many different mediums, from beginner to advanced.
In order to stay on top of the arts events and programs available in the West Shore, the West Shore Arts Council is an excellent resource. “Our website displays a listing of upcoming arts and cultural events as well as calls for artists,” said Laura Davis, president of the Arts Council. “And anyone can post an event. The website acts as a hub for local artists, groups, businesses, and other individuals to stay connected.”
Make 2018 your year to try that ‘thing’ you’ve always wanted to try. Visit vcm.bc.ca for full event and class offerings, and coastcollective.ca for the calendar of exhibitions and workshops. Stay up-to-date with local arts events and happenings by visiting westshorearts.org, or submit your own event.
Kristi Hoffman is the West Shore Arts Council’s administration assistant. The Council is celebrating its 30th anniversary.