The newly elected president of the Fraser Cultural Centre maintains newcomers are drawn to Tatamagouche because of the arts.
George Klass, recently elected president of the Northumberland Arts Council (NAC) that has owned and operated the Fraser since the early 1980s, puts it this way, “Arts and culture define us and are the lifeblood of the community; they provide colour and texture to our lives and the NAC is the locomotive organization that drives them.”
The Fraser Cultural Centre is an integral part of the spirit and life of the North Shore.
In the wider sense, the cultural industry is very much a part of Nova Scotia’s economy. In 2014 alone, culture generated 14,000 jobs and added almost a billion dollars to our gross domestic product. As one of 12 arts councils in Nova Scotia, the NAC is a part of this economic sector.
Tatamagouche is a growing rural community. Since at least the 1950s when the community hosted the Festival of the Arts, Tatamagouche has been known for its arts scene and it is a big reason why the community is expanding.
Building on the enormous amount of volunteer labour in the past, the new board of directors at the NAC, elected just a few weeks ago, will continue to sustain and promote the arts, crafts and cultural activities on the North Shore. They will keep up the tradition of being a platform that gives local, Canadian and international artists a place to show their work. In particular, they want to encourage interest in art among the youth. The NAC wants to move forward as a wellspring for arts and culture in our community.
Art shows, workshops, and the annual Festival of Trees, celebrating the joys of Christmas, are some of the events in the works for the upcoming season. As well, the NAC will continue to operate the visitor information centre at the Fraser that promotes tourism and provides local information to visitors.
Fundraising is an important part of the NAC’s operation. The annual Gala Dinner is a major fundraiser and has become, over the years, one of the premier social events in the village. The Blueberry Festival, held in August, has a long history at the Fraser. This social event, celebrating the blueberry harvest, showcases culinary delights featuring blueberries and always coincides with an art show.
The new board of directors is highly appreciative of the work that has been done before under the leadership of past president, Sharron Byers. Under Byers’ direction, the Fraser has undergone major improvements including an upgraded electrical system, heat pumps installed and the building of a new fire escape. The kitchen was refurbished and the whole building was painted inside and out.
Susan Baker, who has been an NAC board member and tireless volunteer for many years, enumerated a host of successful events that the NAC has presented in the recent past. She said, “We have had furniture, pottery, painting, sculpture, printmaking and quilting workshops and exhibits, just to name a few.”
The Fraser Cultural Centre, home of the NAC, has a long and storied history. Earltown native Lillian Fraser had the building built in the early 1930s as a summer home while she was pursuing her nursing career in the United States. On her death in 1941, she willed her home to the village of Tatamagouche. From then, the building was used as a school for domestic sciences, a Red Cross hospital and a senior citizen’s home before becoming a cultural centre.
The NAC is always looking for new members and volunteers. At present the board is working on its programme for 2017. To belong, you don’t have to be an artist. There is a strong need for artists and also for people who are interested in working hard and having fun. If you think that you may be interested in putting your shoulder to the NAC wheel, email Debra Martyn at email@example.com for more information.