Island Mountain Arts in Wells, B.C. File photo

Three Wells societies receive BC Rural Dividend Program funding for recreation, arts and culture work

Wells and Area Trail Society, Island Mountain Arts and Sunset Theatre receive grants

Wells is a town that attracts artists and outdoor enthusiasts, and recently announced provincial grant funding will help advance work in these areas.

Three societies in Wells have received B.C. Rural Dividend Program grants to support their work in outdoor recreation, arts and culture.

The Rural Dividend is administered by the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and assists rural communities with a population of 25,000 or less to reinvigorate and diversify their local economies.


The Wells and Area Trail Society (WATS) is being awarded $10,000 to implement the second phase of the Cornish Mountain ski trail development, including a link to a 5 km loop trail being built by the Wells-Barkerville Community Forest and West Fraser Mills.

This January, West Fraser Mills did some logging work in the Wells-Barkerville Community Forest, and as part of this work, WATS requested a new portion of trail to be built in the Cross Country Ski Network on Cornish Mountain, Kate Sulis of WATS explains in an email.

“This new trail was built, The Summit Trail, and some work now needs to be done to both ends of the trail to connect it to our existing trail network,” she says.

“West Fraser Mills has generously agreed to supply machine time towards this project, and WATS will use the B.C. Rural Dividend Program money towards getting more leveling, stumping, brushing and clearing work done throughout our whole trail network.”

In 1997, WATS hired a cross-country ski consultant who developed a Master Plan for ski trails and infrastructure on Cornish Mountain, and since then, only about half of the proposed network has been built and is in use, according to Sulis.

“This is a very exciting time for WATS,” she says.

“In the coming one to two years, we should be able to complete the trail network that was originally laid out, thereby doubling it, and possibly even have a few other improvements as well.”

Sulis says the skiing in this area is “superb,” and the trails are great for mountain biking in the summer as well.


The Island Mountain Arts Society (IMA) is being awarded $9,950 to purchase donor management systems and find other ways to increase the sources and types of funding to offset annual operations.

IMA community outreach manager Ksenya Dorwart says the funding is for a couple of new temporary positions, such as a data collector for surveys, videos and testimonials. After that information is collected, IMA would need someone to put that into proper designed documents for presentation to create material that can be used for future grant applications and proposals, she explained in an email.

Dorwart says they also want to hire a development consultant to help with their donor and funder development.

“What that means is we could use a professional hand in developing a seamless and easy process for keeping and cultivating new donors and funders, in hopes to gain more money for our organization,” she says.

Dorwart explains IMA will also need to hire someone for promotional video support.

IMA has already purchased a new volunteer management system, which Dorwart says she is using to help mainstream her workload for ArtsWells, and IMA will be purchasing a customer relationship management system to help streamline the process for collecting information from members, gift shop visitors, residencies and student registrations.

“All of this is in hopes to cut back on some of our workload in the office and make it easier to keep track of all of our members, students, volunteers and funders,” says Dorwart.

“There are simpler ways to collect and store information that should ultimately free up our time to work on other things, such as writing more grants.”


The Sunset Theatre Society is being awarded $10,000 to assess the requirements for a touring and outreach program to bring plays developed by First Nations artists through its Exploration series to the Cariboo region and beyond.

“The Rural Dividend funding is to look at developing a tour through the Cariboo region to take the plays developed at the Sunset Theatre and take them to other areas,” says Karen Jeffery, the theatre’s artistic director.

The Sunset Theatre received funding from the Canada Council for the Arts to further develop Marcel Gagnon’s piece, The Drum is Calling You Home, which will premiere this summer. The play is also receiving support from the B.C. Arts Council and New Pathways to Gold.

Gagnon is from the Lheidli T’enneh in Prince George, and this new play is a fusion of traditional, story-telling, concert, ceremony and theatre.

The Sunset Theatre is also developing several other new plays with Aboriginal content this season, including Her Blood Runs Through My Braids by Kym Gouchie, which is directed by award-winning actress Michelle Thrush; Malhpaka7 by Yvonne Dixon of 10 Mile Lake, The Douglas Project by Danette Boucher and Kohkum and Me by Zach Running Coyote.

The Sunset Theatre’s mandate is to nurture, develop, produce and present professional theatre through its Exploration, Presentation and Production Series.

“We really try to focus on Canadian artists and lately have been trying to focus on people in our region and telling the stories of people who live in the Cariboo and what do those stories look like, especially those of our First Nations,” says Jeffery.

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