In 1990, when Muskoka Arts & Crafts invited me to work for the organization, I had no idea that, more than 31 years later, it would be my life’s career. Over the years, I have worked diligently, enthusiastically and tirelessly to develop meaningful programs for both the members as well as our local and extended community. I have striven to advance Muskoka Arts & Crafts as a professionally administered organization with an excellent and respected reputation that reaches far beyond the borders of Muskoka.
As I look back over the past three decades, there are many accomplishments that I am proud to have initiated. I was delighted to introduce the concept of Muskoka as a designated arts community. It was an honour to bring such renowned Canadian artists as Doris McCarthy, Michael Robinson, Denis Geden, Mendelson Joe, Donald Stuart and others to the Chapel Gallery. It was also a pleasure to work with so many of our local artists who entrusted the Chapel Gallery to exhibit their art. Perhaps the project closest to my heart was the 2011 Muskoka Artist Marketplace. This project was originated and administered by myself and saw 16 artists from Muskoka attend the One-of-a-Kind Show in Toronto. Our booth became a destination within the show and was a model for other groups to follow. The greatest satisfaction, however, has come from watching the members grow and develop as they explored their creativity and skillfulness. It has been most gratifying to learn how Muskoka Arts & Crafts played a role in their artistic advancement.
I would like to acknowledge and thank past and present mayors, councillors and staff with the Town of Bracebridge for their steadfast dedication and commitment to support the work of Muskoka Arts & Crafts. With financial backing and encouragement, the Town of Bracebridge greatly assisted Muskoka Arts & Crafts in fulfilling its mandate to develop a robust artistic community that plays a significant role in creating a healthy community and also ensuring the economic impact of the arts remained significant. The Town’s financial support gave Muskoka Arts & Crafts a physical home from which we had an office to administer the organization and all its programs and events as well as providing the community with Muskoka’s first public art gallery. I am proud and appreciative for this strong relationship that has grown deeper over the years.
As I prepare to leave my position, I am heartened and grateful that I was able to make a difference in the lives of our members, our community in Muskoka and our extended family of artists and supporters. It has been personally rewarding to have served as Executive Director for Muskoka Arts & Crafts.