For more than a decade, the steadying hand of Jacqueline Massey has steered the Bowen Island Arts Council (BIAC).
It was over Massey’s tenure as executive director that BIAC’s gallery moved from Artisan Square into Cove Commons. That the non-profit secured multi-year funding from the municipality. That Bowen has come as close as it’s ever been to building a community centre (a BIAC-municipality partnership).
But come December 31, Massey will leave the organization.
Massey started with BIAC on the board about 19 years ago, doing communications on a volunteer basis (she has a journalism background) and then was employed as its administrator in 2005. A few years later Massey became BIAC’s first executive director.
“It’s been a great adventure, a great journey,” says Massey. “I feel really happy about a lot of the things that I’ve been able to help bring along.”
“Clearly, it’s not been just me,” notes Massey, pointing to the years of strong boards, curators, volunteers and partnerships as reasons for BIAC’s health.
When she came into the role, Massey had worked in communications with the Vancouver Arts Council, with public relations firms and helping artists with getting their work out. She’d seen both sides of the curtain and knew how to tell a story.
“So being able to be flexible and adaptable and still work within an environment that has to be operated day by day,” she says, describing her job. “And at the end of the day have a healthy bottom line.
“It’s arts. You’re opening yourself up to something that may be new and different, which for me is a great thing.”
“She deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the expansion and the growth of the Arts Council,” says Carol Cram, former chair of the BIAC board. “She’s been the captain of the ship for 10 years full-time.”
“She’s incredibly dedicated and hard-working and good humoured,” says Cram. “She’s a lot of fun to work with. We did a lot over those years.
“She really made the Arts Council into the influential organization it is on the island today.”
“Whoever takes over from her is inheriting a really good ship,” says Cram. “They’ll put their own mark on it but they are getting an organization in great shape.”
Massey says that the current strength of the organization makes it a good time to move onto other passions.
“I’ve never even thought I’d stay in one place this long, let alone stay at a job this long, but here the years seemed to fly by,” says Massey. “Sometimes I was thinking ‘I can’t leave yet because I don’t feel it’s the right time for somebody to walk in. Because there’s too many things that need to be settled or identified or a stabilized.’”
But with Cove Commons built, the community centre at a turning point (waiting for funding), Massey is ready to move on.
“I feel really, really fortunate to have been here and felt supported,” says Massey. She thanks her many boards and the volunteers who keep the organization running smoothly. “They’re really such an integral part of the organization.”
Massey plans to pursue more writing, journalistic and corporate, and she plans to offer her expertise in grant writing to non-profits. Also at the top of her mind is international development work.
“After 19 years, I think she deserves to have some time to do some of the things that she would like to do,” says Greta Smith––chair of BIAC’s visual arts committee who also worked with Massey on the Cove Commons steering committee. “Which hasn’t always been possible because the Arts Council takes up a great deal of her time.”
“For Bowen Islanders it’s going to be difficult to not equate Jacqui with the Gallery and the arts scene. She’s been so heavily involved for so many years,” says Smith. “When you think of the arts on Bowen, you think of Jacqui.”