Fernanda Fernández, Board member

The West Kootenay Regional Arts Council (WKRAC) exists to help arts, culture and heritage in the Kootenays 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.

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

Fernanda Fernández, Board Member

Originally from Mexico City and educated partially in Paris, new WKRAC board member Fernanda Fernández now lives in Kimberley. Until recently, she was the Acting Administrator at the Kimberley Arts Council–Centre 64.

WKRAC: How did you come to call the Kootenays home? 

FF: My husband got a job with the City of Kimberley in the planning department in 2020, and the municipality provided an affordable option to buy a house and settle down. We married in 2021 and have lived in the Kootenays for three years, close to my husband’s family, who live in Slocan, Nelson and Creston.

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

I ran the arts and culture centre in Kimberley. Before coming to Canada, I worked on various projects as a curator and art collection manager. My academic research focuses on sex work representations with an intersectional feminist perspective, the decolonization of photographic archives, and cinema theory.

Why did you wish to join this board/committee? 

My job with the Kimberley Arts Council has come to term, and I would like to keep a connection to the arts in the region. Coming from Mexico City to rural Canada has made me aware of the challenges small communities face compared to urban centres. I believe my insight as an immigrant woman will bring more diversity to the board and another way to understand social dynamics for minorities.

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

Before coming to Canada, I had never been surrounded by so much nature. Most people in the Kootenays care about the environment and take pride in their natural heritage.

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

These are challenging fields with great personal rewards but where well-paid jobs are scarce. There are many opportunities to make communities value the effort, research and human resources involved in delivering exhibitions, educational programs and festivals, but it is an ever-changing and demanding job. Tolerance to frustration, resilience and perseverance are traits one should have to pursue a career in these areas. Seeking collaborations and exploring what happens outside the Kootenays will become handy to materialize arts and culture projects.

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

Increase professionalization opportunities for arts and culture mediators and creators. Increase collaboration efforts between First Nations organizations and regional arts councils, museums and libraries.

Anything else you’d like to add?

When I became the Acting Administrator at Centre 64, I was relatively new to the region and the art scene in the Kootenays. Without the support to write grants and the connections the WKRAC has facilitated, my job would have been more challenging.