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So many to thank for Studio Fair

I am writing this week's column on behalf of the staff and board of the Community Arts Council of Prince George & District as an open letter of appreciation and gratitude for the successful completion of the 40th anniversary Studio Fair held Nov.

I am writing this week's column on behalf of the staff and board of the Community Arts Council of Prince George & District as an open letter of appreciation and gratitude for the successful completion of the 40th anniversary Studio Fair held Nov. 4 through 6.

Over those three days, we were blessed to have at least 10 per cent of the entire population of Prince George come in to the Civic Centre and show their support for the arts by experiencing, and acquiring work from, some of the best artists and artisans from Prince George, our region, and beyond.

I was so thoroughly impressed to see such demand - a thirst - for real quality in this city, especially in our era of mass consumerism of foreign-made, cheaply-produced household items sold at big corporate retail outlets. The numbers don't lie and with upwards of 9,000 visitors over a three-day period, one could see that our city appreciates a unique experience that highlights exceptional design, craftsmanship, originality, style and flair.

But to produce an event of this size and calibre requires a tremendous amount of planning and support, and I wish to acknowledge the businesses and individuals who helped make our 40th anniversary studio fair a reality.

First, to those individuals who were there when it all started in 1976 - I wonder if you ever imagined that your support for Studio 2880 would turn into such an important part of the city's stable of annual events? Folks like Shirley Gratton, Penny Stewart, Geri Fletcher and Noreen Rustad, who were all at our 40th anniversary cake celebration on Saturday and continue to volunteer at community-building events throughout the year.

And others like Karen Heathman who brands our event, and Philomena Hughes, who is always there to artistically photograph our endeavours, we thank you for your dedication and your support for local arts (and many other causes I'm sure!) over the decades. How wonderful that we see a seamless timeline from the very beginning, to our current Studio Fair leads, Keith Kerrigan, Marnie Hamagami and guild representatives for the 2016 event.

To our sponsors, the Prince George Citizen, the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group (CKPG, 99.3 The Drive, 101.3 The River) and David Black's team at Royal LePage Prince George, we thank you for your generosity and for your forward-thinking understanding that businesses have a vital role to play in supporting culture, and in return, get to benefit from very special relationships formed with the individuals with whom you do business. And our other business and community partners for the event, Central Display, SpeeDee Printers, SignTek and the Nechako Rotary Club, we also thank you for all the many "extras" you provide us year round.

We also thank and recognize our partners at the Prince George Civic Centre and at Prince George City Hall for all the work that our municipal staff and city council members do to ensure that our event, and the arts in general, receive platforms on which to be seen and heard throughout the year.

This past weekend, I was able to see volunteerism at its finest, with so many individuals and organizations coming out to support the community arts council and Studio Fair. I would like to recognize the Prince George Potters, Fibre Arts, Quilters and Woodturners Guilds, for sharing your talent and time with us, as well as the Artists Workshop, Artists Co-Op, PGSO, Judy Russell and CFIS FM for making such unique contributions to the overall event experience.

A special thanks also goes out to the enthusiastic gentlemen of Baldy Hughes who helped with event set-up, and to the many, many individuals who gave up a big chunk of their weekend to assist the artists and artisans making sure they were comfortable and rehydrated. You all played a huge role in the event's success!

And finally to our artists and artisans, many of whom travelled a long distance to join us here for the weekend, we thank you for your commitment to your artistic process and for helping to give our city such a unique glimpse inside your worlds. We sincerely hope our out-of-town visitors enjoyed their stay in our vibrant city. And for our regional artists and artisans, we thank you for your help in ensuring that Prince George continues to have an artistic soul that is shared so freely and lovingly with all our residents.

We received some tremendous feedback and interesting suggestions for future Studio Fairs, and the dedicated staff of the community arts council intends to work hard to keep this forty year old local tradition alive and thriving for many more years to come.

See you in 2017!