ACWB is Centre Stage with Nelly Wati Tinkess of Balloon Moose Studio

Read this month’s Arts Council Wood Buffalo member feature in the April edition of snapd Wood Buffalo, on stands now!

Nelly Wati Tinkess is a local balloon artist on a mission to educate the public on this expanding art form. Nelly, originally from Indonesia, moved to Canada 5 years ago. Her education and work experience includes public relations, marketing, and communications in places such as Jakarta and Vancouver. Nelly started working as a hobbyist jewelry maker while pursuing a full time job. Three years ago she noticed a photograph of a large balloon sculpture of a mermaid on her Facebook news feed and she instantly became interested. Today Nelly owns a thriving balloon business in Fort McMurray called Balloon Moose Studio, known for delivering smiles and transforming air into art.

It’s no easy feat being a balloon artist, Nelly points out. Similar to many art disciplines, there is a lot of behind the scenes work that happens before there is a finished balloon product. Each project takes research, gathering inspirations, creating the concept and framework, deciding on appropriate techniques, safety assessments, long hours full of balloon tying, sore fingers and wrists. The joy people get from their balloon art is well worth the work for Nelly, and her plans for her practice are ever growing. Nelly created custom balloon art pieces, including hats and headbands, for attendees at ACWB’s 2016 Wood Buffalo Excellence in Art Awards. It was Nelly’s first gig where adults received her pieces and it has opened the doors to new opportunities.

An avid learner, Nelly understands the value of professional development and continued education in order to learn and improve her artistry. Nelly is well known as an innovator in the North American balloon artist community, and she was awarded a scholarship to attend the Twist & Shout Balloon Convention 2017 in Kissimmee, Florida. While participating in the jam sessions and attending the master classes Nelly was able to connect with other balloon professionals, growing her network while learning new techniques. “I learned a lot, new techniques, new ideas, and also got to know other artists that I can proudly say are my balloon family now,” she says.

Networking and creating relationships with other local artists is another way Nelly strives to grow her practice. Nelly is a founding member of the Wood Buffalo Artisans Society (WBAS), a non-profit organization in Fort McMurray. Nelly and other artisan entrepreneurs created WBAS to support and promote handcrafting artists and handmade products in the region.

Nelly believes the arts community is strong in Wood Buffalo and she is grateful to be part of it. She is often surprised by how much support she gets, not only from Arts Council Wood Buffalo, but from the community as a whole. Passion for her art form and her drive to share it with the community aids in fostering awareness and growth for all of the arts in Wood Buffalo. Learn more about Nelly and Balloon Moose Studio at and on Facebook and Instagram.

ACWB is Centre Stage with Campbell’s Music

Interview with Scott Meller

  1. Give a brief history of Campbell’s Music.

Established in 1976 by Murray and Donna (Janie) Campbell, in the basement of the Hill Mall below Hill Drugs on Franklin Avenue, Campbell’s Music started during a time of bustling Economic Activity in Fort McMurray. With a focus on superior customer service and product selection, the business grew substantially, making it necessary to find a larger retail store front. It was only four short years after inception that the location on the corner of Manning Avenue and Main Street was built so Murray and Janie could give Campbell’s Music a new Home.

Seeing it through the Alberta Oil Boom and subsequent Bust of the 1980’s was indeed a challenge for the Campbell family, but Murray never lost sight of the vision to provide a great product at a fair price, with the best possible service- the keys to any successful business. He could often be heard to remark, “If there is no benefit for the customer, then there is no benefit in having it.”

In the autumn of 1993, Mike and Susan Allen moved their family to Fort McMurray to begin the purchase of Campbell’s Music. Through the next decade, several more expansions occurred as the business continued to thrive, always keeping the focus on the original philosophy established by Murray Campbell. Eventually, in 2005, that led to Mike Allen purchasing the Hill Mall on Franklin Avenue and moving the music store back on to the Main thoroughfare, but this time on street level. Also during this time period, Scott Meller, who had started in the repair shop at Campbell’s in 1995, began to work with Mike as a shareholder and managing partner. In 2013, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo expropriated the property on Franklin Avenue, necessitating another move.

In June, 2015, Campbell’s Music opened the doors on their current location on the corner of Biggs Avenue and Main Street, and still work every day to positively impact their community through music by employing the business philosophy established by Murray and Janie back in 1976!


  1. Why do you believe music is important to foster growth in the community?

Let’s back that up a bit. Music is a part of a larger community of the Arts, and the Arts are important for so many reasons that I’m not sure that one article can contain it all! I think that the best way I can explain it is to say that the Arts provide balance. It is a physical manifestation of your feelings, whether that be through Visual Art like Photography, Sculpting or Painting, or Performance Art such as Dance, Drama, or Music. I`m sure that there are far more Artistic endeavours that are out there, but those cover a good sum of what we see here in the RMWB. Getting those feelings out, feeling like you are connecting with another human being on an emotional level, having the meditative act of creating, those are the things that improve quality of life, that regulate depression and anxiety, and make life more than a mere existence!


  1. Tell us about how music has changed your life, employee’s lives and/or client’s lives.

Personally, music hasn’t changed my life as much as guided its trajectory. My family has always been musical and it has been one of the things that has kept us together, even when we didn’t particularly like each other!

As to a particular story, I can remember a young gentleman coming into our store on the corner of Manning and Main around 1995 or 1996. He was a shaggy maned creature, who had a desire to get an electric guitar, plug it into a really big amplifier, and play loud and proud! We sold him an Epiphone Les Paul, and it became his refuge. He played in a local Punk band, but also in his School band. Between us and his instructors at school, he was opened up to many new styles of music, including Jazz, which prompted him to apply to Grant MacEwan College (now MacEwan University) for their Jazz program. He graduated from their program, has come back to Fort McMurray and become a staple of our Musical Community as a Performer, Educator, and Technician. It has been my pleasure to participate in and observe Daniel Gillies journey, and I certainly enjoy that he is still a part of the Campbell’s Music Family!


  1. Describe different organizations or initiatives that Campbell’s Music supports and why.

The initiatives we support are varied and personal. Ever since I joined the company in 1995, we have supported the SPCA. Whether it is because we relate to animal honesty, or want to support those without a voice, it is a worthwhile cause that contributes to our community on so many levels
The Legacy Children’s Foundation- Instruments of Change. This is a great organization that helps disadvantaged youth and children not only get an instrument, but also instruction. Since a part of our mission is to positively impact our region through music, Instruments of Change makes sense for us!

The Fort McMurray Historical Society (Heritage Park). If you don’t know where you come from, it’s hard to see where you are going, and the stories of our region are varied and exciting! We need to let our children, and their children experience that excitement too.

The Fort McMurray Music Teacher’s Association. Musical Educators who carry on their passion for music to the next generation.

The Oilsands Rotary Music Festival. Anything that can help young musicians get feedback and feel reward in their musical development is something we can get behind.

We have also worked with so many community organizations over the years, as part of our mission is to positively impact our region through music, and the following organizations have helped us to do that by working with us on events and community development; the Salvation Army, the Gujarati Cultural Society, the New Heights Outreach Association, the Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts, Keyano Theatre, the United Way, the Regional Recreational Corporation, the Hindu Cultural Society of Fort McMurray, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre, the Centre of Hope, Metis Local 1935, NAABA, and many more! I guess the short answer is that we are happy to support anything that provides a positive impact in our region, and actively look for ways that we can help spread that positive message!


  1. How would you describe the arts community in Wood Buffalo?

The Arts Community in Wood Buffalo is dynamic and diverse. Take a mixture of cultures, viewpoints, experiences and skills, pour it into a room when its 40 below outside, and leave it for 4-6 months. That’s where we are. We have older and experienced artists who have come here for employment, and we’re raising new artists who get to experience that dynamic of these diverse backgrounds as they soak it in and put it back out as something different. Where else can you see paintings made from bitumen, listen to music on an Oud, Bagpipe, and Cajon, see photographs of unique flora and fauna, and see a play that talks about the international world of human trafficking? And that was just what happened in 2016! I can hardly wait to see where it goes from here!


  1. What impact do you hope to have on the arts, both in our region and in general?

I think, at the end of the day, as long as we can continue to positively impact our region through music, encourage people to keep playing, and give people another reason to make the RMWB their home, we will consider ourselves successful.


  1. What is next or upcoming for Campbell’s Music?

The last few years have been tumultuous. Changes to our civic political structure, economic instability, and (of course) May’s wildfires have drastically changed our community, and consequently, how we must view our business model. We are revisiting the idea of reopening our school of music, constantly evaluating our product offerings to see where we are supporting the business and what is being less successful, and how we can best uilise the space we are in. June will be two years since we moved to our location on the corner of Biggs and Main, and I think we can make some changes to make it more efficient and pleasant to visit. It’s also worth noting that June will also be 41 years that our company has been operating. We had planned on celebrating 40 years in 2016, but it didn’t seem appropriate to celebrate when the time came, so perhaps we’ll be able to accomplish our 41st birthday party in 2017 to make up for it!


  1. How long has Campbell’s Music been an Arts Council Wood Buffalo Member? How did you hear about the Arts Council?  What membership benefits have you used?  Do you feel it is worthwhile for Artists?

The ACWB would have the records, but my recollection is that we have been on board with ACWB since day 1. For sure since 2014, since that’s when the first e-mail I have on file is from.  We try to work closely with the arts community of Wood Buffalo as whole, and when Russell Thomas let us know about it, we immediately saw the benefit. The benefit then, as now, and the reason it is a worthwhile endeavour, is simply collaboration. There is enough sunshine for everyone, and rather than engage in competition for audience, dollars, exposure, the collaboration that ACWB facilitates elevates all artistic endeavours in the community.


  1. Campbell’s Music participates in the ACWB’s Local Business Discount Program. What are your thoughts on this program and how does it benefit yourself and the arts community?

It’s a great way to let us, as a retailer, show the artists we serve that we value them and their contribution to our community. It additionally shows the community how much we value ACWB, and what it does for us as an arts community. You can be any person who purchases music gear, but if that same person lives their art and joins ACWB, we offer them a discount. That speaks volumes.


  1. Do you have any advice for artists in our community that would like to pursue art as a business?

The business of art is messy. It monetises that which is an expression of your self, and that harsh perspective is difficult to reconcile with the satisfaction that the expression brings. Probably the best advice I can give is to keep first and foremost in your mind that the business side of things is not personal. When someone places a higher value on their money than your art, it’s not a personal attack, it is their value judgement. Remember why you express your art, and keep doing it, despite the opinions of others. Anything that you practice, you get better at, so practice being positive and believing in your art. Collaborate with other local artists, celebrate each others victories, and grow the community of artists, and you will see your own success increase.


  1. Do you have any advice for individuals who want to pursue music?

Don’t wait, and don’t stop. One of the greatest successes of the recreational musician is not facility of the instrument, but pure expression and enjoyment of the journey. You don’t have to be a good musician to be successful. If you feel better after singing at the top of your lungs in the shower, you’re successfully enjoying music. Don’t wait, and don’t stop.


  1. Anything else you would want to have highlighted or featured?

Support your local arts community. Go to shows, buy the arts and crafts that intrigue you, practice your art. We have world class talent here, and if we don’t support it we will lose it. Be an ambassador for your arts community, be proud of what they create, and show the world. That appreciation and exposure tells a far greater story for our community than the media will, and shows the world that we are more than the sum of our parts. Support your local arts community.

ACWB Executive Director Job Posting

Arts Council Wood Buffalo – Executive Director Position

Arts Council Wood Buffalo is excited for the opportunity to bring new insights and leadership into our growing non-profit organization. Below is a summarized version of the job description. For the full job description click HERE.

Who We Are

Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) is a non-profit organization that champions investment in the arts in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. ACWB was established to raise the profile of the arts in our region and to provide support to all facets of the arts community.

ACWB offers a variety of services and events that: build the capacity of our local artists to compete and thrive; create collaborations between artists, arts organizations, non-profits, and industry; and, provide opportunities for the community to express itself through the arts.

Through these initiatives, Arts Council Wood Buffalo is working to create a remarkable quality of life for all those living in our region.

Job Description

The Executive Director of the Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) is responsible for the successful leadership and operations of ACWB according to the strategic direction set by the Board of Directors.

The Executive Director is responsible for establishing and implementing goals and objectives for the Arts Council which align with the ACWB Strategic Plan and clearly articulating these goals in annual business plans.

The position is responsible for leading the evaluation of all projects, programs, and operations to determine effectiveness in achieving the organization’s strategic priorities. The ED develops and maintains an effective organizational structure and manages all aspects of human resource development. They direct major activities through ACWB staff and through collaboration with other organizations. The Executive Director represents the Organization to the ACWB membership, wider arts community, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, other social profit agencies, funders, and the general public.

Duties and Responsibilities

The Executive Director performs a wide range of duties including some or all of the following:

• Leadership & Influence

• Advocacy & Stakeholder Relations

• Operational Management

• Financial Planning & Management



• Completed a post-secondary education in non-profit, business, cultural management, or related field.

• A preference will be given to art related experience

• Proven record of five or more years of senior management experience in a non-profit environment, preferably in the cultural sector.

• Experience working with Wood Buffalo’s diverse communities would be considered an asset.

Knowledge, skills and abilities

• Knowledge of leadership and management principles as they relate to non-profit organizations.

• Knowledge of and experience with all federal and provincial legislation applicable to operating a non-profit organization including (but not limited to): employment standards, occupational health and safety, taxation, privacy, anti-spam, etc.

• Knowledge of current community challenges and opportunities related to ACWB’s mission and objectives.

• Knowledge of human resources management, financial management, and project management

• Proven track record of developing and adapting the operations of a growing organization with diverse programs and stakeholders.

• Experience and ability with advocacy and government relations • Demonstrated ability to develop and implement policy guidelines with a sound understanding of effective governance within a policy governance structure.


Click ACWB Executive Director Position Description for the full job description. Please submit your resume by email to Application deadline is December 30th 2016. Please note that it is our practice to contact only those candidates who are chosen to proceed in the competition.

2016 Buffys, A Sold Out Success That Celebrated The Achievements Of The Arts Community

On October 22, Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) transformed the Suncor Energy Centre for Performing Arts into an extraordinary scene, created to amaze all the guests of the inaugural Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards. The sold out “Midnight Circus” themed awards showcase event treated guests to a breathtaking evening that included several high energy performances from a variety of disciplines, a visual arts display, a delectable assortment of carnival foods and for the main act, the presentation of 13 awards.

The Arts Awards, AKA the “Buffys”, were presented to 13 local artists who have shown outstanding achievement and accomplishment in the arts. Each award was hand crafted by local Aboriginal artist Kathleen Marsel. The 2016 award categories and winners are Arts Administration – Ana Maria Mendez; Arts Education – Marie Gazzard; Creative Collaboration – “Fanny & Manny Tie the Knot” dinner theatre by Theatre; Just Because and Waypoints; Dance – Kim Hurley; Fine Craft – Leo Parent; Literary Arts – Kevin Thornton; Media Arts – Sean McLennan; Music – Dan Gillies; Theatre – Michelle Thorne; Visual Arts – Carol Breen; Traditional Aboriginal Arts – Lily Marcel; Rising Star – Avery Rex; and Arts Champion – Loraine Humphrey. 12 of the categories were open to nominations from the community, while the Arts Champion recipient was chosen by the ACWB board of directors to acknowledge an individual, small business, corporation, social profit, or foundation which has strengthened arts and culture in Wood Buffalo through their support and commitment to the sector in the past year.

The focus of the Arts Awards event is to celebrate the achievements of local artists though an artist showcase and to place tangible value on the essential role the arts play in creating a balanced community. The showcase included a visual art display, live theatrical performances, film, instrumental music, song, poetry, duets, and collaborations from different performing arts disciplines. The audience was made up of members from all facets of the community, not just the arts.

Diana Moser, interim executive director, explains that “ACWB’s mandate is to champion investment in the arts in the region and the Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards is designed to do exactly that. The Buffys provide artists with an opportunity to build their portfolios through the recognition gained as an award nominee and recipient, as well as by performing or exhibiting during the showcase event.” The Arts Awards is an annual program that will continue to recognize the achievement and accomplishments of the arts in the region year to year, invest in the future of the growing arts community, and allow artists to compete and thrive within the region and even beyond the borders of Wood Buffalo. “We look forward to the partnership opportunities and relationships we will continue to build to make the awards and the showcase event an on-going meaningful experience for our community,” says Moser.

ACWB thanks the 2016 Arts Awards sponsors, the team at SECPA, the event coordinators, various partners, all the artists, the volunteers, ACWB staff and board, and of course, the Wood Buffalo community.

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Volunteers Needed! Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards

Arts Council Wood Buffalo is holding the first ever Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards on October 22, 2016.  It will be a fun-filled night of performers, food and beverages, visual art, awards, and socializing!

The theme of the event is “The Midnight Circus” and ACWB is looking for 20 volunteers to help with set up and take down, event flow, drink ticket sales, security, etc. Some rolls can overlap as well depending on how involved the volunteers wish to be.

Volunteers will receive our undying gratitude, food, and a bird’s eye view of the event of the century!

Interested volunteers should contact Liana Wheeldon to confirm their role and training date: / 587.674.1625 x. 100


Liquor Ticket Sales (must be over 18 years old) – Need: 1

  • This individual must be comfortable ID’ing people and refusing ticket sales if needed
  • This role will be from 7pm until 11:30pm
  • Must have Pro Serve certification (Arts Council will reimburse associated fee)


Food Assist – Need: 2

  • Cleaning away garbage; consolidating food items on tables; replenishment
  • This role will be from 7pm to midnight


Backstage Event Flow Organizers – Need: 3

  • Keep performers on time for their performances
  • This role will need to be present for rehearsals 11am until 5pm and 7pm to 11pm for event

Runners (must be over 18 years old) – Need: 2

  • Jack/Jane of all trades 7pm to midnight
  • Covering breaks and busy areas
  • Must have Pro Serve certification to cover Art & Wine/Liquor Ticket sales breaks (Arts Council will reimburse associated fee)

Security – Need: 6

  • Protect displayed artwork for Art & Wine pairing
  • Protect displayed awards
  • One or two stationed at the main doors all evening (liquor permitted indoors only)
  • 6:30pm until 12:30am

Set up/Strike – Need: 6

  • Friday afternoon, October 21st, for pick up, delivery and assembling of pipe and drape (need to be strong!); 2 people, approximately 3-4 hours (may be less); exact time TBD

Night of event:

  • 9am until noon – 6 people
  • Midnight until 1am – 6 people

Request for Expression of Interest – Redpoll Centre Public Art Commission

Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) is seeking Requests for Expression of Interest (REOI) for a public art commission at the Redpoll Centre. The Redpoll Centre Public Art Commission project will create an original piece of public art to be exhibited within the Redpoll Centre at Shell Place in Fort McMurray, AB. Alberta visual artists or artist collectives working in 2D or 3D, photography, or fine craft are invited to respond to this REOI. Submissions will be accepted until October 3, 2016.

The Redpoll Centre, a collaborative non-profit workspace, was officially opened on September 9, 2015. As one of the tenants of this space, Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) is commissioning a piece of public art to commemorate the opening of this new community hub. This project is funded by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA). “Arts Council Wood Buffalo was honoured to be selected to commission a piece of public art for our region. This project is an opportunity to increase the amount of publically accessible art in our community, while also having our region represented within the province’s collection.”

The artwork ACWB wishes to commission would be site specific and would speak to the values of collaboration, innovation, creativity, courage, and integrity that resonate with this new shared-space and the wider Wood Buffalo arts community. The artwork commissioned through the proposed project would be located in the publically accessible space outside of the Redpoll Centre’s reception area, but will become part of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts’ collection. “The AFA art collection is the largest collection of visual artworks by Albertan artists in existence,” says Liam Oddie, Acting Chair of the AFA. “Our vision is to ensure that we acquire works that are representative of artists from all corners of our province and from diverse communities – and we need help from Alberta’s arts community to identify these works and artists. The Public Art Commission program is one of the best ways we can engage with regional arts organizations to fulfill this vision.”

The REOI is due October 3, 2016 and submissions will be reviewed with short-listed artists notified by November 4, 2016. The final successful artist or artist collective will be notified in December. Installation of the artwork will take place in August 2017 with the unveiling reception in September 2017.

Redpoll Centre AFA Public Art Commission REOI

September 20 information session presentation

September 20 information session video 1

September 20 information session video 2

September 20 information session video 3

2016 ACWB Annual General Meeting & Member Mixer

Saturday September 24, 2016

Doors open at 9:30 am

Meeting begins at 10:00 am

Fireside Room, Suncor Community Leisure Centre (MacDonald Island Park)

  • Review of ACWB 2015 activities (PDF document)
  • Special resolution – adoption of new by-laws (PDF document)
  • Board of directors election
  • Networking

RSVP to or message us on Facebook by September 19, 2016.

If you are unable to attend, you can designate a proxy to carry your vote for you at the AGM. If you are a current member of Arts Council Wood Buffalo, but are unable to attend the 2016 AGM, please fill out this proxy form and return it to Constance Scarlett at by September 19 ,2016.

ARTIST CALLS – Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards

Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) is looking for artists to submit work for the Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards in 2 areas – the awards themselves and/or for the art and wine pairing reception.

Artists can submit a proposal to create 13 awards, one for each of the following categories: Arts Administration, Arts Education, Creative Collaboration, Music, Dance, Theatre, Traditional Aboriginal, Arts Visual Arts, Fine Craft, Literary Arts, Media Arts, Rising Star, and Arts Champion. The work media should be 2D or 3D artwork / fine craft which reflect the themes of: Wood Buffalo; excellence in the arts; culture of creativity; courage and integrity; and / or collaborative leadership. These should be uniquely crated pieces specifically for the awards program.

ACWB, in collaboration with Beckman Consulting, is also seeking to select six pieces from Wood Buffalo artists for display as part of the art and wine pairing reception. Artists should submit 2D or 3D artwork pieces that are already completed and exhibition ready. The 2D work will be displayed on easels and must not be larger than 3’x4’. Three (3) submissions maximum per artist; there are no specific themes being requested for artwork being submitted to this call.

The deadline for both calls is Friday, September 23. Please email submissions and direct questions to

Complete details can be found in the PDF versions of the calls:

Call for Artists – Award Creation

Call for Artists – Wine & Art Pairing