The Cowichan Valley Public Art Gallery Society has, in her chosen word, a “champion”!
Jean Crowder, recently retired Member of Parliament, Nanaimo-Cowichan (2004-2015), brings her deep experience and her vitality to the creative process of establishing a Public Art Gallery in the Cowichan Valley.
As the Society’s honourary chairperson, Jean believes her strength will be in “speaking to people where they are.” Intelligent and warm, Jean’s voice is widely recognized and respected, speaking publicly, politically and in-community. A four-term MP, her roles included shadow critic for: Aboriginal Affairs, Community Economic Development, Health, and Status of Women. As a professional as well as a volunteer, she has established relationships with all elements of our Cowichan Valley’s diverse spectrum of cultures, social and ethnic languages, and interest groups. From the multiple perspectives of the economy, local community issues, social activism, cultural priorities, youth, and marginalized citizens, Jean can persuasively discuss the value to the Cowichan Valley of a world-class Public Art Gallery.
“We must first identify our audience clearly. We must be open to input from all elements. Public engagement is crucial in developing a vision. Relationship-building is key to a successful process. Bringing diverse groups together and speaking publicly to all elements of society are a joy for me.”
“The arts are our birthright . . . I see a project that reflects the natural traditions of this Warmland: the cedar, the rains, the rivers and Salish Sea, the creatures and the people. First Nations must be informed, asking respectfully if and how they might like to be involved. An wholistic vision of arts and culture can reflect our culturally-rich Island community. A Public Art Gallery can be a space for public forum; it can pull people together, educating us to see our world in new and different ways. The arts expand and enrich the languages with which we tell our stories.”
A Public Art Gallery can be a vital restorative communal space where people share their life stories. “Story and storytelling are central to civilization . . . and what’s happening to ‘story’, now, in our current culture? Listening to individuals’ unique stories, and taking someone’s story forward, has been the most powerful experience of my life in-community.”
– profile by Wendy Robison