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Arts group formed
Ten founding members launch Fort Smith organization

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 27, 2013

A new organization has hit the ground running to promote the arts in Fort Smith.

The Fine Arts Council of Thebacha (FACT) had its organizational meeting a few weeks ago, and has already applied for society status with the GNWT.

"We're already moving ahead," said Tim Gauthier, the chair of the new group.

Gauthier explained FACT had its genesis when he talked to a number of people about forming a community theatre in Fort Smith.

"We realized there was quite a large group," he said. "So 10 of us gathered at my house a couple of weeks ago and the 10 of us became the founding members of FACT."

The group includes musicians, singers, people

interested in theatre, those interested in doing cultural workshops, and more.

"So all of this kind of bubbled up and it made us determined to dedicate a group towards meeting those goals," Gauthier said.

FACT has already identified a couple of plays members would like to do, including presenting a production of A Christmas Carol at Christmastime and other plays by Northerners. The group also plans to present storytelling and musical events this summer.

"It's generally an exploration of how many people want to express themselves in a public way through theatre, through the arts, through singing, through music, through drama. All those things," said Gauthier, who plans to act in theatrical productions.

When he lived in Ontario, he was a member of a theatre group called Pinnacle Playhouse. His dream is to establish a community theatre in Fort Smith with the name Pelican Playhouse.

"I think this town, which is a little town with a can-do attitude, we can make it happen," he said.

FACT now consists of its 10 founding members, five of whom are on its board.

"We're always looking for more members," Gauthier said. "We welcome participation from any sector of the community. Anybody who's got an artistic, or cultural or theatrical bent, we want them to join and help us bring some fun, entertaining options to our lives."

Janie Hobart, a former mayor of Fort Smith, is also a founding member of FACT and is the group's secretary.

"We've got wonderful musicians, artists, performing artists, and so we want to create a little bit more structure so that we can do some fundraising and do more performances," she said.

Hobart said FACT will also create more opportunities for visual artists to display their work and offer more workshops.

"There is a lot of talent in Fort Smith and there are a lot of people that are willing to share their talent with others," she said. "It just needs a little bit more structure."

Gauthier would not describe FACT as a successor to The Artists of the South Slave Society (TASSS), a Fort Smith group that folded five years ago.

"This is a little bit broader, I think," he said.

One of the reasons the society folded was due to a lack of involvement by members.

"I don't think this is going to be an issue," Gauthier said of FACT. "This is not so much about marketing arts or selling things. TASSS got a little into that. They were more of a business-oriented thing. We're very much about entertainment."

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