The Peace Liard Regional Arts Council has found its new executive director.
Dawson Creek born Haley Bassett will step into the role held previously by Donna Kane, who stepped down after seven years of serving the community.
Kane says Bassett the right person for the job, and looking forward to seeing fresh ideas from her successor. Having recently graduated from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Bassett is no stranger to the PLRAC, serving on their board since 2018.
“Haley was raised here, so she has a really good knowledge of the arts culture and heritage needs in the region. She’s done several projects through the Dawson Creek Art Gallery that have been regionally based, she’s proven herself as being very capable of carrying out those projects,” Kane said.
Bassett says her top priority as the new executive director is to offer arts and culture to all communities in the Peace.
“I think it’s about creating new opportunities for the arts council, I’ll be looking to expand our relationships with communities in the region. I’d really like to get every single community involved, especially First Nations, on board,” said Bassett. “That way we have an arts council that truly represents the region.”
Bassett is of Métis and Eastern Europe descent, and opened an exhibit this past August which featured traditional Métis beadwork. She said revitalizing indigenous culture is an area she would like to focus on.
“Deepening an understanding of your cultural background can be a really strengthening and empowering process, especially if you’re someone who’s struggled with any kind of trauma,” she said.
In the meantime, Bassett says her predecessor will be around to offer advice and wisdom.
“We’ve been working together in this transition phase, it’s been great. I have a lot of support from her."
Kane said Bassett should make the position her own, and not worry about what came before.
“I think the position is a really exciting one because you have the ability to imagine your projects and programs,” said Kane. “I’ve told Haley that this is her position now, and she can take it where should go, and not to worry about filling someone else’s shoes – they’re her own shoes, she has the ability and the creativity to take it in her own path.”
Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News