Published On: Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Expanding West Shore, Expanding Arts Scene

Expanding West Shore, Expanding Arts Scene

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WEST SHORE - At our February Mixer at the Pacific Centre Family Services Association, I had the pleasure of meeting Tara Sudbury, Director of Development for the Victoria Conservatory of Music. Staff and Governors at the Conservatory are excited about expanding their services into the West Shore. “We acknowledged early on that our location in Victoria made it too difficult for many West Shore families to get to music lessons after school,” said Tara. “We’re absolutely delighted that our additional location at the Westhills YM/YMCA in Langford will make music so much more accessible.”

In March, music is particularly accessible, thanks to a partnership between the Victoria Conservatory of Music and Island Savings – A Division of First West Credit Union. After the doors open on March 1st, Island Savings is sponsoring “March Into Music” – a series of free sample classes throughout the month. There are a wide variety of options available, so to check these out and sign up, please go to

While the arts add to the quality of life, they are also a significant economic driver. It is in recognition of this that the West Shore Arts Council and the Juan de Fuca Performing Arts Centre Society are joining forces to stimulate discussion around arts and culture provision in the West Shore. The Performing Arts Centre Society’s focus is “to plan, promote, develop, construct and operate a performing arts facility that will accommodate a comprehensive range of cultural and community experiences.”

This is not a new concept, as working with the City of Colwood, a study was funded in 2013 to review the options and consult with interested parties. Once created, the Performing Arts Centre Society’s estimate is that there will be an economic boost of $3.2 million in the West Shore, over and above the boost provided by the construction.

For Terry Rowsell, President of Four Seasons Musical Theatre Society, these discussions are very welcome. “We have grown as much as we can in the West Shore given our current performance space,” noted Terry. “As the first and only musical theatre society in the West Shore we look forward to contributing our thoughts to what would make a performing arts centre successful. A multi-use facility is key.”

There is lots going on in the West Shore, and at the Chamber we’re seeing this in an increase in membership from across the region. If you’d like to learn more about what we do, please go to or pick up the phone – I’d be delighted to speak to you.

- Julie Lawlor is the Executive Director at the WestShore Chamber of Commerce. You can reach her at 250-478-1130 or