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Grand opening of Habitat for the Arts

Marianne Garrah, director at the Habitat for the Arts, says the grand opening ceremonies will feature a street performer directing guests, and once people enter they will notice that the pottery school, facilitated by Julie McMath, will be doing demonstrations. The video school will be set up and running and there will be thespians afoot, with the theatre school, facilitated by theatre director Grace Kohn, available to provide information. Tours of the building will also be provided to really show why the space was created.

Ursula Winkler will be giving a class for artisans with some hands-on creating, and the People’s Gallery will display a Snow and Ice exhibit, part of the Jasper in January events, featuring local photographers.

“The gallery will also feature local live music on the stage throughout the evening,” says Garrah.

Habitat received its Volunteer Canada Centre ‘status’ last month, and Garrah says the directors have ideas on how to create a sense of worth for the hundreds of volunteer hours this community does.

“We would like to clarify how the volunteer centre will work,” says Garrah. “It’s not to capture the volunteers we already have and call on them more, it’s to give value to those that do and to build a co-ordinated ‘workforce’ of volunteers that benefit in return for the time they do.”

With the Volunteer Canada Centre status, people can come to the Habitat to look for volunteer opportunities by registering with their volunteer pool. The Habitat will then connect volunteers with various events and needs based on their specified interests and availability. The Habitat will keep all personal information confidential, only acting as the connecting body. There will be a small registration kiosk set up at the Habitat for people to sign up if they would like to become a volunteer.

Garrah says the benefits of registering with the volunteer pool include the opportunity to “spend” accrued volunteer hours at the Habitat, “shopping” in the “store”. Groups that need volunteers will be encouraged to offer event-related articles and items to the “store” for volunteers to purchase with their hours.

At the grand opening, posters from various groups that need volunteers will be hung in the space for people to browse. As a donation at the grand opening, people can volunteer an hour or two of their time, but the donation is not mandatory for entry.

Garrah says with hours acting as “currency” at the Habitat, this gives real value to volunteer hours. 

“Creating value in the community is part of being a volunteer centre,” she adds.

David Baker, programming director at the Habitat, explains the great door prize that will be up for grabs at the grand opening event.

“During Arts Days, we won a VIP family of five pass to the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM), as part of being chosen second in the entire province [during CBC’s Cultureville contest].” 

For three weeks in advance of Alberta Arts Days, communities and individuals were encouraged to submit online entries explaining why their community is the most culturally cool in Alberta. Jasper was awarded second prize with the VIP passes to the RAM.

“The passes will provide a curator’s tour of the museum with certificates for the cafeteria and gift shop,” says Baker. “We decided that we would like to use this prize package to create awareness of the Habitat by giving away this “rock star” tour of the RAM.”

Be sure to enter to win this great door prize at the grand opening event.

Check the website for more information, at, where you can find the Habitat’s “A”-list for 2011.

Later this month, the Habitat will feature a host of exciting events, with a hot chocolate booth during the Jasper in January street fair on Jan. 22. Also on Jan. 22, see First Nations Art at the Habitat, along with a morning appearance from the Fitzhugh’s Deke, as he hosts a class on his cartoon artwork.

Community members are encouraged to be a part of this great facility, designed to give the arts a “home” in Jasper. The grand opening event will provide residents an opportunity to have a one-on-one tour, and interact, suggest and dream up their own ideas to try out in their own space. 

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