“We want to be vibrant and sustainable for a long time,” says Reg Wilford, executive director of the Chilliwack Community Arts Council. (Submitted)

Chilliwack Community Arts Council seeks community input for progressive change

Community engagement is key to growth for Chilliwack Community Arts Council, says executive director

The Chilliwack Community Arts Council has been pretty quiet for the past nine months, but rest assured they are not closing their doors.

Those words were stressed by executive director Reg Wilford who recently announced the Chilliwack Community Arts Council (CCAC) is about to undergo some big changes, and they need input from you to do it.

“As with many non-profits, there comes a time to re-evaluate the mission and establish a deeper connection to the community. This is where we found ourselves in early 2018,” says Wilford, who took on the role of executive director in December 2017.

CCAC is currently undertaking a strategic planning and community engagement project that will lay the foundation for ensuring the organization’s future relevancy and sustainability. Supported by a $25,000 strategic initiatives grant from the B.C. Arts Council, the CCAC is now turning to the community for some feedback.

“The strategic planning process is 12 to 18 months. We want to come out of it being relevant in the community and being able to meet the needs of the community in the realm of arts and culture,” says Wilford. “We want to be able to deliver more meaningful programs to more diverse audiences across the community.”

CCAC is currently meeting with several key partners and stakeholders like the City of Chilliwack and local First Nations to talk to them in person and ask questions. They’re also reaching out to current CCAC members, former students, artists and the general public via an online survey.

“We are inviting all potential audience members and patrons of arts and culture to submit their input through an online survey,” adds Wilford. “This general audiences survey will help us to understand who our future audiences are, what they believe is important in the area of arts and culture, and what the Arts Council’s role is in serving the community’s needs.”

CCAC suspended all of its classes at the end of last spring to focus on the new strategic planning process.

“We couldn’t change the tire doing 100 kilometres an hour,” explains Wilford.

With the exception of a few events over the past year (the Christmas Craft Market and the Chilliwack International Film Series), the staff and board of directors have been putting nearly all of their efforts into this project.

“We have a very strong, progressive board that supports the kind of tough decisions that will see us out into the future,” says Wilford.

“Change is not always easy, but it is at times essential,” says Tim Wurtz, president of the board.

CCAC has existed for nearly 60 years, and they want to continue to be a part of Chilliwack for decades to come.

“We want to be vibrant and sustainable for a long time,” says Wilford. “We’re taking the time to be thoughtful about where we are in the future so this organization can be relevant and vital and important to the community for another 60-plus years, because it’s a longstanding organization. We honour that legacy of this arts council and we want to continue that.”

The online survey features 28 questions and all personal information is kept strictly confidential. The survey will be open for about six months.

“We’re going to hear it all, and it’s not going to be easy to hear it all, but at the same time there are so many opportunities for the arts to have a really meaningful impact,” says Wilford.

If you or someone you know is interested in sharing their thoughts on arts and culture in Chilliwack, go online to fill out the survey: surveymonkey.com/r/communityartsandculturesurvey.

By completing the survey, you will also be given a chance to win an array of prizes.



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