Wetaskiwin Arts Club

Picture: an instructor helps a student with her knitting.

 

A lot has changed within the Wetaskiwin Allied and Arts & Craft Center (WAACC) since 1956, but one thing that has remained constant for 56 years is the commitment and determination of the organization to provide programs and services for Wetaskiwin and region. 
Back in 1956, about 37,000 Hungarian refugees came to Canada following the collapse of the  uprising against Soviet authority. In 1956, two 21 year old  hockey players from Alberta, Norm Ullman and Johnny Bucyk were playing in the NHL. The local Wetaskiwin Co-op advertised products such as bacon at 30¢ for a 1/2 lb. package, ladies car coats $16.50, boys wrangler jeans $2.95, margarine 57¢, flashlight batteries 20¢, ground beef 3 lbs. for $1.00 and zonolite insulation at $1.65 a bag. It was also in 1956 that the Wetaskiwin High School Sabres Football Team under Head Coach Norm Brown, was so dominant that no points were scored against them. 
Wetaskiwin Allied and Arts & Craft Center (WAACC) established in 1956
On December 19th,  1956 was also the year that the Wetaskiwin Allied and Arts and Craft Center was established and the application to become a registered society was approved. The 56 year old document lists the occupations of the executive as “housewife, clerk, or office clerk”. 
The 1956 application states the mandate of the society was to, “provide for the recreation of the members and to promote affordable opportunities for friendly and social activities”. They were to acquire lands and buildings for these social and community purposes, by lease or mortgage.  They were to encourage and promote amateur games and exercise, and provide a meeting place for the consideration and discussion of questions affecting the interests of the community. Lectures on social, educational, political, economic and other subjects, as well as giving and arranging musical and dramatic entertainment were additional responsibilities of the 1956 WAACC. 
In 1966 the WAACC obtained the old army barracks to rent from the City of Wetaskiwin. They paid 300 dollars a year towards the upkeep.
Wetaskiwin Allied and Arts and Craft Center today is facing tough challenges
WAACC continues to offer classes, organize workshops, arrange presentations and develop arts & crafts projects.  There are many choices of courses offered such as knitting, stained glass, obsidian arrowhead, jewellery making, ceramics and pottery.  In spite of the vast offering of courses and having qualified instructors, reasonable prices and great equipment such as kilns and potters wheels, it has been an uphill battle to increase and retain membership. 
By 1995 the executive and membership was on a decline. The board was operating with about 5 executive members. The Arts and Crafts Centre was threatened by closure in 2011 but then 35 people came out the AGM and selected a new Executive and Board to revive the organization.
  “Unfortunately, if more citizens don't step forward the centre will once again find itself in trouble”, clearly stated Terry Demoline, President of the Arts Centre,. “The same 4-6 people can no longer commit to the same workload they have since the plea that was put out in May 2011 to help the Centre. And especially when the rent is $6000 per year.” Following an article in the Pipestone Flyer by Margaret Chegwin in that year membership increased to 35 members. 
“We have plans to resurrect the large weaving looms and re-introduce weaving to the WAACC. Acquiring equipment and keeping it in repair all take funds. There are also many new or resurging crafts that we would like to teach that would require more supplies and equipment. The stained glass classes have been very popular. We are working towards purchasing some tools and offering studio time in the future, where crafters can pay a small fee and come to work at the centre and use our equipment.” She even goes on to suggest they welcome new ideas for workshops courses such as, “Book a two hour class for a birthday party. We do kids pottery parties and could also do teen stained glass parties”. 
WAACC will be accepting applications for membership at the annual meeting on October 22nd  at 7:00  P.M. at the Craft Centre. The Centre is located at 4520-48 Street behind the Wetaskiwin Composite High School in the same building as the curling rink. 
Even though much has been accomplished to re-vitalize the centre in the last year and a half, we still very much need help. 
Will WAACC survive
Has the Wetaskiwin Allied Arts and Craft Center lived its useful life and be allowed to die in dignity?  Or, will WAACC get a new breath of life at the AGM and become bigger, stronger and healthier than ever before. Terry concludes by saying, “Now we have our annual general meeting booked for October 22 and are hopeful we will get more people out and involved. We have done a lot more work at the Centre and are working so hard to make the Centre a success.” 
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