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Allied Arts celebrates long-time dream of home

allied arts ribbon cutting

Allied Arts directors Lynda Baxter and Holly Perret, executive director Carmen Drapeau, president Gordon Perret and directors Trish Hoskin and Gisela Kelner cut the ribbon to officially open the Fort Macleod Allied Arts Building.

Twenty-eight years after the organization formed, Allied Arts has a place to call its own in Fort Macleod.
The Allied Arts Council on Saturday celebrated the official grand opening of the Fort Macleod Allied Arts Building on Main Street.
“There is an excitement surrounding the centre,” Allied Arts director Gisela Kelner said. “People are excited when they come in here.”
Close to 40 people turned out Saturday afternoon for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and to view a new exhibit of Allied Arts’ members work.
The building’s gallery, studio and pottery area has increased Allied Arts’ profile and helped it grow.
“Hopefully we’re helping to keep downtown more vibrant,” Allied Arts president Gordon Perret said.
Fort Macleod economic development officer Martin Ebel said the presence of the Allied Arts building on Main Street is doing exactly that.
“It shows For Macleod is a community that values art and wants to showcase it on Main Street,” Ebel said.
Ebel said the presence of Allied Arts in a building of its own gives Fort Macleod one more important selling point to potential new residents and business owners.
“You bring a lot to the community,” Ebel said. “We’re richer for it.”
The Fort Macleod Allied Arts Association unofficially started Sept. 12, 1984 when representatives of the art and pottery clubs, Fort Players and three schools met in the home of Marj and Len Hatton.
The vision was to provide art and drama workshops, start a concert series and become an umbrella group for all arts organizations.
A steering committee was set up with Kathy Brandley, Hank Griesbach, Marj Hatton, Jim Mountain and Donna Viens.
By November the newly-organized Allied Arts Council held a public meeting in the gallery of The Fort — Museum of the North West Mounted Police.
The Fort Macleod and District Allied Arts Association was incorporated in April 1985 and on July 1 launched its first program, hosting a show by a multimedia artist. The next effort was hosting a children’s show by Loose Moose Theatre from Calgary.
Allied Arts in1985 started a concert series featuring the Anne Campbell Singers, LCI Jass Choir and a local “Meet the Stars” talent show.
Allied Arts then joined the Southern Alberta Touring Council and hosted performances by Ian Tyson, Mountain Music Hall and David Wilie and the Great Western Orchestra.
Allied Arts members served on a steering committee when the Town of Fort Macleod took ownership of the Empress Theatre.
“This was something the Allied Arts was really advocating for,” Kelner said.
Allied Arts ran its concert series for eight years before turning it over to the Empress Theatre Society.
“The association was ready to branch out into other arts and cultural endeavours,” Kelner said.
In October 1993 Allied Arts hosted a craft sale that continues today in conjunction with the Santa Claus Parade weekend.
Other initiatives by Allied Arts include dinner theatre, tours of historic homes, old-fashioned teas and poetry readings, while continuing to host touring art displays.
Kelner explained that by 2000 Allied Arts activities slowed somewhat, with the group concentrating on four main events: the craft sales, children’s music festival, Children’s Festival and a tea honouring a local artist.
In 2010 Allied Arts held a visioning session that led to eight major goals, including hiring an executive director and finding a permanent home.
Allied Arts hired artist Carmen Drapeau in April 2010 as executive director. Classes and workshops were held at the 1884 North West Mounted Police Barracks provincial historic site and the Scout Hall.
In the meantime, Allied Arts continued to look for a place of its own.
“In order for the organization to continue its momentum, a space was required,” Kelner said.
In April 2010 Gary Temoin approached Allied Arts about using his building on Main Street for the studio and gallery.
“We looked around at a lot of different buildings and we finally settled on this one,” Perret said. “It seemed to suit us best.”
Allied Arts runs children’s and adult arts programs at the centre, which also housed a pottery studio. In addition to the craft sale, music recital and Children’s Arts Festival, the group introduced Art On Main to Fort Macleod.
“To finally have a home and a paid employee rather than just relying on volunteers has given this organization the impetus it needed to move forward,” Kelner said.
The Fort Macleod Allied Arts Building has a high profile on Main Street, providing easy access to programs and events.
More artists are coming forward to take part in programs and display their work in the gallery.
“The centre is starting to pull the arts together, and the possibilities are abundant,” Kelner said.

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