The Summerland Community Arts Council is now in its 51st year. We have one employee and we rely on her and the board of directors and other volunteers to organize and administer our ongoing programs. It is important to us that as many people as possible can access our programs and become involved in the arts, as we believe this creates a dynamic and vibrant community. We work closely with the District of Summerland and other community groups on this goal. We try to make most of our programs self-sustaining so that they cover all their direct costs. However, to keep them affordable and accessible to all levels of income, we keep fees as low as possible. As well, we work on specific fundraising projects and apply for grants and sponsorship to keep our expenses minimal and provide several free events. We are in receipt of a BC Gaming Grant for operations and those funds go toward administrative costs, including the salary of our administrator. In-kind support from the District of Summerland includes use of a 3,400 sq. ft. facility with maintenance support. The year 2019 proved to be challenging for the Summerland Community Arts Council because the construction of an apartment complex next to us resulted in our street being closed to traffic for five months. Access to our building was severely restricted, however we persevered despite the fact that visitors to the arts centre were down by about 40$. We did find the visitor number were on the uptick once construction was complete in November, 2019.
We organize six major art shows during the year that showcase local artists and provide a venue for viewing, engaging and learning about art for the community. Every year, the Summerland Arts Council sets aside at least one show for community involvement. This year, it will be the 2020 edition of "Inspired By," a gallery show that will be held in conjunction with the Ryga Festival this August. In 2018, we started a project called "Inspired By," where artists and writers inspired each other to create works and it was a great success in 2018 and 2019. We want to reach our further to the community to participate in 2020 and this year, we've involved poets, dancers, musicians, visual artists and filmmakers to inspire each other to create works of art. During 2019, we had 380 people visit the art gallery on opening reception night.
We operate a Summerland Arts Program for children. We keep them at an affordable cost, ranging form $65 to $75 for week-long classes. We also offer bursaries to ensure that all children have the opportunity to take part in the program. We have 17 classes scheduled for 2020 and we continue to add more classes every year. We also offer after school programs and Pro D Day Art Camps where parents can drop off their kids for a full day of art related activities and supervision.
The Arts Centre provides a meeting place for many groups and organizations in the community, of all ages and disciplines. We host the Tuesday Afternoon Fibre Artists, African Drumming Group, Philosopher's Café, Summerland Stitchers, Summerland Singers and Players and more. We offer a reasonable rate for our facility to give groups the opportunity to meet on a regular basis and this is important because many of these groups can not afford the rental fees charged by other venues. We want to make sure the Arts Centre is available to everyone. In 2019, we booked 144 dates for member groups.
We engage the community by hosting Earth Week events, Culture Day events, Friday Night Live concert evenings, our free Music in the Park concert series featuring local musicians and free events at the Arts Centre.
We provide a $500 bursary to Summerland Secondary School annually for a student who is pursuing post secondary education in the arts. We participate in the Work Experience Program run by the high school by hosting a student every semester.
One of our new initiatives is the Connecting Students with Art Program. The artists, whose gallery shows we showcase hold workshops with school age kids from elementary to high school. The artists demonstrate their craft and the students participate by producing their versions of the art. We reach out to the schools in our area and coordinate dates. We've been able to run one session of this program, prior to shutting down and it was very successful.
The SCAC maintains a gift shop where local artists can sell their work on consignment. The gift shop is operated by the administrator and volunteers with any revenue going directly toward our general operating budget. In 2019, 71 artists displayed their works in the shop.
We maintain an arts library consisting of 600 donated books, digitally cataloged. Volunteers run this program, presenting an attractive selection of books covering many genres. These art books are available to borrow.