CANMORE – Putting paintbrush to canvas, a group of local artists have banded together to help raise funds for the Bow Valley Emergency Women’s Shelter.
The Arts and Song fundraiser, taking place next Saturday (Nov. 9) at artsPlace, will be a day of beautiful art complemented by harmonious music, according to organizer and artist Donna Jo Massie.
Massie and her advanced watercolours class will be donating more than 200 original pieces to event to raise money for the shelter.
“It’s a good opportunity to get your Christmas presents — and support a good cause,” Massie said.
All original watercolour art pieces are $25 and feature a wide diversity of subject matter, Massie said, ranging from wildlife and fishing lures, to canoes and flowers, to landscapes, portraits and everything in between.
This year marks the first time the artists in the class have collaborated with musicians as a fundraiser.
“I think it will be fun,” Massie said. “I like to see collaborations and I like to see the music and the visual arts working together.”
Fundraising has always been an important aspect of the class, Massie added, explaining that the watercolour class has raised more than $16,400 for local charities since 2003.
As members of the Bow Valley community they want to give back to an area that has been good to them, Massie said, adding that many in the group feel is it pivotal to help raise money for local charities.
“The people in this group are amazing,” she said. “They didn’t hesitate to say 'let’s go.' ”
YWCA chief operations officer Steve Crotty said fundraisers are essential to helping keep shelter beds available for those in need.
“It’s very humbling and inspiring for us to have people and organizations like Donna Jo’s that take this on as their own,” Crotty said. “They’ve taken it upon themselves to do something in a proactive way and to help support us.”
While the shelter does receive funding from the provincial government to help cover the cost of staffing the organization, he said, fundraising and donations play a critical role in ensuring resources are available for those who seek them out.
“The fundraising component is certainly a necessary part of our delivery," he said.
The YWCA Banff has two units available as a shelter and they are available 365 days of the year, Crotty added the units are available to all genders experiencing spousal or intimate partner violence.
It is essential to have the shelter in the Bow Valley, Crotty said, because domestic violence knows no boundaries and affects all demographics.
“Even though we consider the Bow Valley a fairly well to do insulated economic environment, there’s just so many factors that contribute to domestic violence,” Crotty said, adding that Alberta has one of the highest incidents of domestic violence in the country.
Emergency shelters are the very first point of entry for those escaping domestic violence, Crotty said, and are a place where they can find safety so they can begin their journey of removing themselves from a dangerous situation.
“It gives them an opportunity to have an evaluation of their current situation and give them a chance to make a plan for next steps,” Crotty said. “Without that first step, they are continually spiralling into a situation that typically and usually gets worse as time progresses.”
Crotty said they work with a wide array of agencies including the RCMP, Bow Valley Victim Services, the Canmore General Hospital, the Banff Mineral Spring Hospital and others, and staff are trained and ready to help survivors deal with their situation.
Crotty had the opportunity to visit the watercolour class, and shared moving stories of survival, The Arts and Song fundraiser artist participant Maureen McKay said.
The accounts Crotty shared with the watercolours class touched her heart and inspired the class to do what they could to support the emergency women’s shelter.
“We were crying, we were in tears,” she said, describing her reaction to hearing the harrowing tales of survivors who have visited the shelter.
Learning the stories of survivors makes the fundraiser all the more special, she said, while encouraging the artists to take the warmth and camaraderie they feel in class and share it with the rest of the Bow Valley to benefit the women’s shelter.
“It’s just nice to be helping someone and not just using your talents for sales,” McKay said.
The Arts and Song fundraiser takes place on Saturday, Nov. 9 at artsPlace.
The Art show and sale runs from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and is free to attend.
The music concert, $20 admission, takes place from 2:30 to 6 p.m. Tickets are available at artsPlace online, in person or by phone. The concert features musicians Mike Petroff, Gord March, Molly Matheson, Lori Reid and Candice and Julie. The intermission will feature live art on the spot.
If you or someone you know require accessing a safe space the Bow Valley Emergency Women’s Shelter can be reached at 403-760-3200 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday or on their after-hours lines at 403-762-3560.