The Fernie Arts Station launched their 2017 Banner program this past Thursday. A packed gallery listened to a couple of speeches by organizer Donna Miller and myself on behalf of Council before I was given the privilege of opening the doors to the theatre where the new banners were hanging.

It’s always a thrill to throw the doors wide open to show the elegant colourful banners hanging from the ceiling and filling up the room. There’s always a lot of anticipation on seeing the new background colours and seeing the applicant’s images displayed so wonderfully on the banners.

Original banners were introduced by the City of Fernie in 1999 and in 2003 the Arts Council asked to be involved with the program and so a partnership began.

Local resident Linda Hide initiated the idea of having images from local artists placed on the hangings. The Arts Station puts out the call for applications and adjudicate the works and Terry Nelson from the City worked on the project, choosing the background colours and making sure the images ended up as spectacular banners. Since Terry retired this year Vanessa Croome was commissioned to do this work. Vanessa is a board member and long-time volunteer at the Arts Station.

Donna Miller has been leading the project in recent years. Donna is one of Fernie’s generous volunteers as she is a long time Art Station board member having served on the executive many times and also as a volunteer with other organizations including presently sitting on the Senior’s Centre board.

This year there was a total of 100 entries 67 of which were artists, some were children, and some were submissions from the schools, with 39 chosen to become banners. The oldest entrant is Irene Atkinson at 95 years young. Irene is a wonderful artist that has entered previously and who paints weekly. One of her paintings, a lovely tranquil scene of a mother and child looking out over calm waters hangs in the Hospice Room at Elk Valley Hospital, donated in memory of Pietro Aiello by his family. Andrea Horton entered her late mother’s painting, that of Joyce Mckay who passed away in 2010 but who was a Fernie resident for many years and was also a wonderful writer submitting poetry that was published often in the Free Press. Entries came from the South Country, Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford.

On behalf of Council and the City of Fernie I expressed sincere gratitude and Thanks to Donna, Terry, Vanessa, Station Administrators past and present, adjudication committee and all of the many volunteers and artists that keep this program flourishing.

This program is unique and has proven so popular that other communities have copied it. It not only decorates City streets beautifully but it allows for artists and artisans that are from this town to display their talent. It is especially heartening to have younger children and teens submit their art and a real confidence booster when chosen to be made into a banner.

I also thanked the Arts Station Board, City workers, volunteers, musicians, photographers, potters, crafters, artisans and everyone that supports the Arts Station in whatever way because it is all of the people that continue to keep the building not just a structure but a place that is vibrant with Arts and Culture programs and events. This participation is what has given Fernie a reputation for being a very progressive arts and culture community. Congratulations to the individuals that entered and those that were chosen.

The Banner Project is a fantastic collaboration between the City, The Arts station and the regional arts community.

For this reason I want to say again, thank you and congratulations on another successful year!

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