Musical instruments pump up Pender program

TD MusicCounts grant comes up big

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Christmas came early for students and community members on Pender Island, as a local arts society recently received a grant for a wide range of new musical instruments.

“I brought everything to the school. It was a pile of boxes in the middle of the band room,” Ptarmigan Arts Society creative director Lauren Mann said. “The kids kept peeking over and asking the music teacher ‘When can we open the boxes?’”

The society is a recipient of the 2019 TD MusiCounts grant, which provides communities with funds to buy new musical instruments and equipment. Ptarmigan Arts received $25,000 worth of new instruments from the grant and will use them to boost their existing musical instrument bank, and to build programming for the Pender Island community.

“For the last five years, we’ve been running a music in the school program as part of an overall artists in the school program, where we put artists into the school to teach kids primarily music from Grade 5 and up,” said Ptarmigan executive director Lisa Fleming. “We had an aging instrument bank to run that program. When we heard about this opportunity to apply for another $25,000 worth of musical instruments, we thought we’d give that a try.”

“We already have quite a strong foundation of the arts and music. This will help round that out and allow us to do programming from the preschool age up to high school. It’ll give an opportunity for all ages, up to adults and seniors,” Mann added. “It’s a wide range to help round out what we already had. It’s great because we can start the kids from a young age and infuse them with music.”

Ptarmigan Arts has a long history with the arts on Pender. The society was founded over 25 years ago, and has focused on music and theatre. It has been expanding into visual arts, with events like the Fall Crawl studio tour giving Penderites the chance to explore the visual arts in their community. Ptarmigan is also working on opening a gallery on the island, which will let more visual artists sell and exhibit their work.

However, music does continue to play a major role in the society’s activities. They have also reached out to schools on other islands, including Saturna, Mayne and Galiano, to bring musical programming to kids in the schools. They are also working with the WSÁNEC tribal school on the Saanich Peninsula to build music programs.

For more on this story, see the Oct. 23, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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