By Chandler Freeman-Orr
“Everybody wins with the arts all the time.” For Shari Bishop Bowes, the arts are subjective, inspirational, and best of all, something different from what people normally do. For Shari, the arts shake things up in a community, and give it that extra kick and punch.
Shari not only feels strongly about the arts, but she throws her energy into supporting them. So it should be no surprise to anyone who has met the 15-year resident of Canmore that she is this years recipient of the Community Builder award.
The Canadian Mountain Arts Foundation (CMAF) has played, and continues to play, a large role in Shari’s volunteerism in the arts for our community. In 1995, Shari along with a group of other residents recognized the need for an arts council and so helped form the CMAF. Shari served as president of the board for a number of years, and she continues to play an active role in endeavours such as the Vic Lewis Band Festival, Live on 7th, FunkArt, and artsPeak.
She is also currently working on the Canmore Miners’ Union Hall Centennial Restoration Committee, striving to give Canmore artists a premiere venue for performances and other arts shows. Though Shari considers all her endeavours to have been successful, she considers the popular annual artSpeak festival to be the one she’s most proud of, saying it has brought and continues to bring so much to the valley for everyone to enjoy, and provides a real benefit to artists.
Formerly the editor of the Canmore Leader, Shari claims she essentially got paid to be active in the community. Today, she works at The Banff Centre and is constantly in awe of all the different artistic programs and events that come through the arts complex.
Shari is deeply committed to making the arts more accessible to people in the valley. She
admits, though, that our community could do more to foster emerging artists. She mentions how many artists have to suffer for their art when living in Canmore. By providing space for artists to explore and create their art we can better support their needs.
Why support the arts? For Shari, the arts have the potential to change people’s lives while at the same time benefitting our economy. Art is a universal language, and as far as Shari is concerned, it’s also a great way of showing the world just what our community has to offer. Visitors as well as Canmore residents come to see and enjoy the works created by Canmore artists.
When asked how she felt about being recognized by the Town for her contribution to the arts, Shari responded with typical humility saying, It feels strange to be singled out from the herd. Im always part of a wonderful team. Its strange, but lovely.The Town of Canmore is inviting the community to come to the Canmore Miners Union Hall on September 30 beginning at 5:30 pm to celebrate several local artists who will be spotlighted during the Mayors Spotlight on the Arts celebration. The event will focus on the diversity and variety of artistic talent in Canmore. Tickets for the event are available for $15 through the Arts and Culture department at Canmore Civic Centre. Get them in person or reserve by phone at 403.678.1878. The event will be a wine and appetizer evening, with a spotlight on three local artists, acknowledgement of lifetime contribution to the arts, recognition for a significant community builder, an internationally recognized keynote speaker, and an emerging artists bursary being awarded.
About the Author: Chandler Freeman-Orr is a recent Canmore Collegiate graduate with a strong love of music, literature, and writing.