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Okanagan Institute Okanagan Institute The mission of the Okanagan Institute
is to contribute to
the quality of creative engagement in the Okanagan through publications, events and collaborations.


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Okanagan Institute
Kelowna BC Canada
Telephone 250.870.2690
Email: Click here


Okanagan Institute
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Okanagan InstituteOkanagan Institute The Okanagan Institute is a group of creative professionals that have gathered around the goal of providing events, publications and services of interest to enquiring minds in the Okanagan. We partner with individuals, organizations, institutions and businesses to achieve optimal creative and social impact.

Our mission is to ignite cultural transformation, catalyze collaborative action, build networks and foster sustainable creative enterprises. We provide innovative consultation, facilitation, professional development and creative services.


Okanagan Institute
Our Express program of weekly public events took the week of Canada Day 2011 off. In the interim, we presented the text of a presentation which Robert MacDonald delivered on Saturday, June 25th at TEDxOkanaganCollege in Penticton, which includes the following quote from Nic Marks of the Happiness Project, "Happy people don't only create successes for themselves; they also reach out to others and create societal benefits through their generosity and creativity." He proposes, "We urgently need a positive vision of our future. We need to stimulate people not to run away but instead to engage, to have compassion, to be open, to be flexible, to be creative and innovative." For more, click HERE.


Okanagan Institute The year 2010 was a particularly busy one for the Okanagan Institute. We managed to hold over 70 events in Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon in addition to the events associated with our ArtsCare and Culinaria programs. We also published a number of books and other publications. As the year neared the end, we were glad to take a couple of weeks off to refresh ourselves, take stock of our accomplishments and plan for the year ahead.
Thus begins our brief synopsis of some of the highlights from the year, along with some anticipatory remarks on what you can look forward to from the Institute this coming year. For more, click HERE.


The Creative Economy

In the broadest sense, the Creative Economy is the enterprises and people involved in the production and distribution of goods and services in which the aesthetic, intellectual, and emotional engagement of the consumer gives the product value in the marketplace.

It includes the individual artists that are the talent and source of creativity - for example, writers, photographers, painters, glass blowers, sculptors, furniture makers, filmmakers, architects, choreographers, chefs, and composers. These are the people who originate creative ideas and concepts.

It includes the nonprofit cultural institutions and commercial businesses that take the original ideas of individual artists and produce creative goods and services - for example, performing arts organizations, dance troupes, printing companies, recording studios, design studios and shops, advertising firms, film production companies, and architectural firms.

It includes the nonprofit and commercial institutions and commercial businesses that distribute the creative products to customers and the marketplace - for example, museums, libraries, art galleries, publishing companies, performing arts venues, and higher education arts facilities.

It includes institutions and commercial businesses that are not creative by design, but are dependent on creative talent and functions to survive - for example, technology companies that employ graphic artists or manufacturing companies that employ product designers.

It includes the support system that nurtures and sustains the creation, production, and distribution of creative products and services - for example, the public school system's art education programs; local, regional and state/province governments that create public policies and provide tax incentives that enable arts origination and production; local and community foundations that provide financial resources and support to individual artists and arts organizations; community-based and neighborhood cultural organizations that provide creative-learning opportunities for young people; and higher education institutions that help nurture creative talent.


The Express Program

Our events program features the regular Express series of presentations and seminars in Kelowna at the Bohemian Café, in Vernon at Okanagan College, and in Penticton at Hooked on Books.

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"Your gatherings have become very popular and instrumental in raising the profile of various endeavours in the community, as well as bringing forward issues worthy of note and discussion. " - Birgit Bennett, President of Ballet Kelowna.

"The best 2 bucks one can spend on any Thursday at 5pm." - Manny Pinsky

"Thank you. The hard work and dedication you have put into the Institute has meant a great deal people like me who thirst for information and thrive on intellectual exercise. In retirement from active business, one misses the arousal of creative thinking." - Jack Crawford

"At the bottom of the page I see the term "collaboratory." That struck me as an outside-the-box use of language that exemplifies the innovative spirit of the Okanagan Institute itself. Many thanks for the dedication and perserverence of those who make possible the programs of the Institute. They are a weekly tonic for the creative community." - Barb Shave


Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often.

Gillianne Richards

When it comes to creative stimulation, sometimes all you need is two bucks and a comfy chair.

It's Thursday at 5 p.m. I am walking through downtown Kelowna, about to cross the street. As I step off the sidewalk, I notice the timer that tells me how many seconds I have left to cross, and realize I'm almost out ...5...4...3... I break into a jog and pass a guy rocking out in his Ford F150 who revs the engine at I to hurry up. I stop and lock eyes, holding my ground a second as the timer runs out. "Pedestrians have the right of way... " I mouth to him, through tight lips and an Eastwood glare. He can't read lips but thinks I said something about his hair, so he lurches forward, just an inch, and smiles as I throw my arms up and scream like a toddler, dashing off the street and ducking for cover in Mosaic Books. As I peep out to make sure he's gone, I can't help but wonder if this run-in was a cry for some much needed stimulation in my life.

Well, it just so happens that nearby there is a very bohemian restaurant which is filling up, right now, on an unassuming Thursday evening, with some of the Okanagan's best and brightest minds. The group putting tonight's reoccurring event on is the Okanagan Institute, a collective of creative professionals who, among other things, get together and talk about really cool stuff. And we're all invited to join in. Flip a toonie in the basket at the door, and for the next hour or two get in on some interesting, inspiring, and creative conversations.

I walk in at 5:05p.m. It's evident that, as well as popular, this group is punctual. I take one of the last seats left and try not to disturb Karen Close, one of the co-facilitators, as she intro's tonight's theme. It is about the healing power of story and she starts by sharing one of her own. Within minutes she has the room in the city of San Miguel de Allende, a Mexican mecca for culture. There, she formed a friendship that fueled a book, now published and held softly in her hands, fanning her through the warm memories. I order tea and catch smiles across a room of avid listeners, people who have come out to be told stories, to witness healing, to have a drink and be entertained the old fashioned way. The group meets up and down the Okanagan and covers all sorts of topics, from publishing to sustainability, from calligraphy to collaborative intelligence. Speakers are brought in to share their experiences and thoughts, and although the topics are deep, the evening is light. It's about conversation and exchange, not lectured learning.

After Karen, an eighty year-old storyteller shares her memories of performing plays with Robertson Davies. He is one of my favourite Canadian authors, so I perk up with excitement to meet someone who knew him first hand. I consider asking her to sign my notebook. Something like, "Dear Gillianne, Keep writing, I know talent when I see it. Sincerely, Jean, best friend of Robertson Davies."

Cathryn Wellner is up next, worldwide storyteller and beloved Okanagan blogger. She pulls out a book she loves and reads touching quotes from it worth recording. I can't find my pen, so I am forced to steal a crayon from the kids supply stash near the restaurant's menus. It's hard to look like a serious listener when you have to scrawl your notes twice as large because they're written with a partially chewed piece of purple wax, but I save face by solemnly sipping my tea and furrowing my brows in a way that says "I hear you Cathryn, never mind my crayon, tell me more".

And she does. As with the other speakers, people listen, laugh, ask questions and applaud. Robert MacDonald, the brilliant founder, wraps it up with a brief commentary and offers info about upcoming shows. Enchanted by the evening, feeling stimulated and creatively well fed, I mingle with the buzzing crowd and enjoy the social end to the night. It may not be San Miguel of Mexico, but it's nice to know the Okanagan offers its own valued collection of creative minds.

The Express series honours and promotes the activities of Project Literacy Kelowna. Today many people in the Okanagan have difficulty reading, writing and working with numbers. They have trouble writing letters, reading menus, making sense of newspapers, helping children with homework, filling out applications, doing their banking, taking advantage of training programs, and securing jobs. This limits their participation in our community and their control over their own lives and destinies. Literacy KelownaMany of them want to improve their reading and writing and given the chance, they would. Project Literacy Kelowna provides literacy tutoring, and a variety of other services that address this problem. You can be part of this effort, by becoming a volunteer tutor, helping with fundraising and public awareness efforts, or donating much-needed funds.For more information contact Project Literacy Kelowna here.


Carol KerganOkanagan InstituteDouglas Hodgkinson
On November 29th, 2011 Rev. Canon Arthur Douglas Hodgkinson passed away suddenly in Kelowna, BC. He attended St. Johns College at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and graduated in 1966. He graduated from UBC in 1972 with a Masters in Theology. Canon Hodgkinson was employed at the National Office of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada from 1973-1989. (He was seconded by Archbishop Ted Scott to come to Toronto from the Diocese of Kootenay). While at Church House he was the Director of Resources for Ministry. Canon Hodgkinson is also known for his work with continuing education of clergy, and as a teacher and consultant in Adult Education and Bible Study. He was the Rector at St. George's Anglican Church in Westbank, BC from 1989-2002.


Written and Spoken Word

The Okanagan Institute is especially dedicated to the advancement of the art of writing and to outreach programs that bring creative thinking and written works of merit to under-served communities. The Institute is prepared to publish established writers and hitherto unpublished writers, as well as out-of-print work, collections of essays, and anthologies that spotlight and support other local arts organizations.

Okanagan Chapbooks
We are publishing a series of Okanagan Chapbooks - occasional compilations, short texts, tracts and pictorial materials of special interest to the principals of the Okanagan Institute - literary works of merit and distinction, history and heritage, the arts and crafts, leisure pastimes and fugitive enthusiasms - by Okanagan writers, and on topics of appeal to Okanagan readers. Okanagan Chapbooks are printed in limited quantities and made available to friends of the publisher, at Okanagan Institute events, and through selected purveyors of fine publishing. Subscriptions are available to libraries and book collectors. .

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Okanagan InstituteSpoken Word is a catch-all phrase coined in the 1980s for word-based performance arts that did not fit into the established genres of music, theatre and dance. Spoken Word includes a wide range of performance genres. Non-literary vocal practices are sometimes cited as spoken word influences: the auctioneer's singsong patter, circus barking, children's skip-rope rhymes, stand-up comedy, political oratory, and television news presentation. Spoken Word Festivals happen in many places every year, and the Okanagan now has one of it's own - The first-ever Okanagan Spoken Word Festival - Word Out!


Join Our Group

The director of the Okanagan Institute is Robert MacDonald. Collaborators include Karen Close, Edward McLean and Neil McKay. We invite participation and collaboration by members of the Okanagan creative community. To find out what opportunities are available, click here.


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Proof. The Club for Creatives
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Finally, there is a club that will have us. Limited memberships available. Get in early before they're gone: www.proofclub.ca