The West Kootenay Regional Arts Council (WKRAC) exists to help arts, culture and heritage in the Columbia Basin thrive. To do so, we rely on a dedicated team of board members, plus steering committee members who oversee the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance (CKCA) arts and culture grants.

Denise Baughan, CKCA Steering Committee Chair

Who are these people? In this series, we’re introducing you to the folks behind the scenes.

Denise Baughan, CKCA Steering Committee Chair

Denise Baughan works as a teacher in Fernie, teaching drama to grades two to 12 and humanities to grade seven.

WKRAC: How did you come to call the Columbia Basin home?

DB: I followed the love of my life out west for a snowboarding vacation. We fell in love with the warmth and friendliness of the community of Fernie, and decided to make it our forever home.

Are you involved in arts, culture and heritage outside of your work with WKRAC/CKCA? If so, what is your discipline or practice?

I am heavily involved with the arts outside of the work that I do with CKCA. I am a theatre artist and full-time educator, and am currently a member of the Fernie District Arts Council. Over the years I have directed, performed and hosted theatre workshops in my community. Volunteer work has always been important to me. I help out in my community in a variety of ways—sometimes it’s organizing and helping with logistics of events, other times it’s been tearing down stages in the rain, or MCing concerts.

Why did you wish to join this board/committee?

I wanted to join CKCA because I felt like the work that they do is important, especially for rural artists. I am a huge supporter and advocate for the arts in my community, and with joining this board my hope has always been to have a positive impact, and to learn. It’s been an honour getting to witness so many of the projects that come across our table become a reality, and to see the impact these projects have not only on the artists, but also their communities.

What do you think people in the region should be proud of in terms of arts, culture and heritage?

I think people across the Basin should be proud of the diversity that each community has to offer when it comes to the arts, culture and heritage sectors. Travelling around the Basin, I am always impressed by the calibre of artists that exists, and how the communities create and support opportunities for artists to showcase their work. The Columbia Basin has a lot to be proud of.

What advice do you have for people in the region pursuing a career in arts, culture and heritage?

Don’t be afraid to use your voice and create your own opportunities. Develop a network of supportive people, be persistent, believe in yourself and be authentic to who you are. 

What vision do you see for the future of arts, culture and heritage in the Columbia Basin?

I believe that the arts, culture and heritage sectors are the heart of a community, and therefore I hope to see them continue to thrive. I hope to witness continued funding to the arts, artists collaborating and communities continuing to come together to celebrate their uniqueness.