Big ideas for a cultural centre

Given that many communities of similar size to Salmon Arm or even much smaller have successful performing arts centres, then our community should also be able to develop a similar facility. The first step is to create a vision, one that both fits the community’s current needs and its potential future needs. It would be more than providing a venue to significantly increase entertainment options, as the cultural centre should also foster the arts by providing a facility that could help develop future artists and meet the needs of a growing population.

Continue reading

The Shuswap deserves a world-class cultural centre

The 750 seat Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre

The Shuswap supports a vibrant cultural scene and yet one “big idea” that has yet to become reality is a centre for the arts that provides much needed venues for large and small events, including theatre, music and dance. Given a city sponsored project has begun to develop a cultural master plan, it would be good to have a look at the facilities that other communities of similar size have to support the arts. Now that a giant treble clef identifies Salmon Arm as a music-focused city, the next step is to build a cultural centre where great music can be heard throughout the year.

Continue reading

When music gets classy – the Shuswap String Orchestra

The giant treble clef public artwork that will soon adorn the front of Shuswap Park Mall is totally fitting, given the huge role that music plays in our community. A good example is the successful Shuswap String Orchestra that has been entertaining audiences since it formed 17 years ago with quality live music that is not often available in much larger communities than ours.

Continue reading

Choir music steadfast part of Shuswap culture

June 2, 2019 performance at Nexus

There is no question about culture thriving in the Shuswap, given that Nexus on First had a full house for the June 2nd spring concert by Shuswap Singers and the Shuswap String Orchestra, with the Jackson School Choir as special guest performers. The Shuswap Singers have become a local institution, with a history that goes back to a night school course led by Tom Brighouse in the early 1960s. His class became the Salmon Arm Choral Society, which held its first concert in 1962.

Continue reading

Musical reviews by and for the community

Lorn McCausland, Randy Arzenault, Elaine Holmes and Fred Green belt out a song for the Everything Animals show in 2016 (Shan Saatchi in background)

Rehearsals are in full swing for Wildwood Production’s musical show, the seventh in its series. This year’s event features the music of one of America’s favourite singer-songwriters, Pete Seeger, with all proceeds going to support the proposed multi-functional Shuswap Performing Arts and Cultural Centre. Since the first production in 2012 dedicated to the centennial of famed folk artist Woody Guthrie, this ad-hoc group of dedicated volunteers has raised over $16,000 for worthwhile local community causes.

Continue reading

Jazzing up the Shuswap

photo by Clive Bryson

While the typical jazz music venue in most cities is either a hotel lounge or nightclub, in Salmon Arm jazz lovers flock to Nexus at the First United Church that has become a well-appreciated, 325-seat music venue for the community. We can all thank the Salmon Arm Jazz  Club for their dedication to hosting talented players from the community as well as from throughout Canada.

Continue reading

Laurie Payne – Renaissance man


In the late 1980s, famed CBC host Vicki Gabereau did a series of interviews called the “Best Guest Quest” with relatively unknown people who deserved fame. Many of Chase artist Laurie Payne’s friends listened intensely when he was on the show.  We were not disappointed as Laurie entertained us as well as listeners across Canada with stories about his colourful life, from growing up during the Second World War in rural Great Britain to how he chose to settle in a run-down farm above Turtle Valley in the mid-1960s. Continue reading

Why not Roots and Blues all year long?

For a community steeped in music, there is so much more that could be done to further enhance the local arts and culture scene. Thousands of people flock to Salmon Arm for our iconic Roots and Blues Festival and some decide to re-settle here because they become enamored with our region’s scenery, people and opportunities for recreation and culture. Despite this success, there is room for improvements, and examples can be found in other communities.

Continue reading

Melodic summer evenings in the Shuswap

Birchbark on the stage at the new Friday Nights Live location

Live music in public spaces has long been part of the human equation, given the countless number of bandstands found in communities around the world. There is not much that can beat the enjoyment of listening to music on a summer evening in a peaceful, beautiful surrounding with friends and neighbours. It was the old adage, “build it and they will come” that spawned the Shuswap’s first summer music series in 1994 when the Salmon Arm Arts Council began using the repurposed Expo 86 gazebo installed by the city to host Wednesdays on the Wharf, also known as WOW.

Continue reading

Understanding the Secwepemc world – a book review

A better understanding of Indigenous peoples is now possible, thanks to the recent publication of Secwepemc People, Land and Laws by Marianne Ignace and Chief Ronald E. Ignace, with contributions from archeologist Mike Rousseau, ethnobotanist Nancy Turner and geographer Ken Favrholdt.  Ancient stories, archeological evidence, archival records, ethnographic studies, linguistic research and first-hand knowledge have been masterfully woven together to create this comprehensive examination of the Secwepemc peoples’ ancient connection to the land and the injustices they have endured for over 200 years.

Continue reading