Regional Arts Council sets virtual eyes on Sue Popesku archives

The Peace Liard Regional Arts Council says it's still going strong in 2021, with upcoming programs and events moved to virtual formats.

The Regional Juried Art Exhibit was the first to go virtual in May, followed by their Ekphrastic Writing event, and Wild Words North, all of which are set to return this year.

“It was a big learning curve last year for sure. We didn’t really have anything that was delivered virtually before, it was always in person,” said Executive Director Donna Kane. “We carried forward all our programming last year and it all worked out.”

Going virtual allowed the Arts Council to reach a wider audience, with panel discussions held in partnership with artists in Toronto and Halifax.

“There were so many different events and workshops, it was lot of work to make virtual,” she said. “But at the same time, it opened up a lot of opportunities.”

Perhaps its largest online efforts will be developing the Sue Popesku Memorial Archives, planned to launch later this year in honour of her legacy as a champion of all things arts and culture.

The arts community is still reeling from Popesku's passing last April.

“Sue was an icon, not just in Fort St John, but throughout the region, as well as provincially,” said Kane. “Her loss is so huge. Everyone is still having a hard time with it, because we weren’t able to get together in person and celebrate her life.”

The Arts Council hopes to hire two students this summer in partnership with the Fort St. John North Peace Museum, which will manage the archives.

The Arts Council was founded in 1989, and Sue was there from the start, Kane said, keeping newspaper clippings, press releases, and other relics from every event. Students will have 50 boxes of material to sort through.

“She never threw anything out. She kept every scrap of paper related to any arts, culture, or heritage event,” Kane said.

Museum Manager Heather Sjoblom says she’s looking forward to the project, noting the student positions are contingent on grant funding.

“It’s really the stuff that’s important to the organization; photos, maybe some minutes, that kind of thing. We’d love to get that up online,” said Sjoblom, adding students will be searching for the most relevant items to scan and upload.

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