The Pembina Hills Arts Council (P.H.A.C.) held its annual general meeting last week, a time for the board to share a review of the past year, and a look at plans and priorities for the year ahead.
Chairperson, Lorne Stelmach said it was the first full year, post-pandemic, they could resume their full slate of programs, which was a huge highlight for the council. Overall, Stelmach said there was a good response for all activities, and it was great to have more people back participating with the gallery.

As the Arts Council looks to the new fiscal year ahead, the board hopes to change the course of its current financial situation. Stelmach said they had deficits in the last couple of years, which he added is not a sustainable path for the organization.

PHAC President Lorne Stelmach(Submitted photos) PHAC President Lorne Stelmach

With the help of extra government assistance, Stelmach said they fared well during the pandemic. However, their fundraisers and revenue-generating programs and initiatives shut down, and the board has had difficulty getting those programs up and running again.

"Our biggest challenge now is to stabilize our financial situation."

"I think we need to diversify our revenue, find more sources of grants, increase donations, and try to get more of our fundraising happening again. It's also a matter of us trying to keep extra close tabs on our expenses as well," said Stelmach. "So yeah, that's probably the biggest challenge we've been facing, and that's something that we're still having to face in the year ahead." 

Directors(Submitted photos) New gallery director Jennifer Smirl with former director Liza Isakov

A variety of exhibits

"We like the variety of exhibits that we've had. That's probably one of the main priorities we've had in recent years. We've been very much emphasizing inclusivity and diversity," said Stelmach. "So, we've been trying to expand on our variety of programs, even just working with groups like Pembina Valley Pride, for example. have them connected with exhibits that we have going on."

People creating art around a table

Stelmach said they try to have a mix of what people would view as traditional art, and also incorporate stuff that's "non-traditional." 

P.H.A.C.'s annual Student Art exhibit is one program that's always well received every year. Stelmach said people in the community appreciate their kids have an opportunity to have their artwork on display.

Stelmach says they'll continue to focus on turning the art gallery, Arts Council, and the gallery building into a cultural hub. He said they want to attract people there who otherwise wouldn’t set foot into the gallery.

~ With files from Robyn Wiebe ~