Nick Toner says he enjoys the arts programs at Bigby Place because they are good for the community and they make him happy. Photo: Bill Metcalfe (More photos below.)

Nelson singing teacher leads Bigby Place in song

“It was a lovely afternoon with them,” says Kathleen Neudorf

Every month a local artist spends two hours with participants at Bigby Place in Nelson, a gathering place for people with developmental disabilities.

This month, singer and choral director Kathleen Neudorf led the group in song.

“It was a lovely afternoon with them,” Neudorf said. “Everyone was extremely open to whatever I suggested.”

The arts initiative is a project of the Nelson and District Arts Council. Bigby Place is a program of the Kootenay Society for Community Living.

Once each month, visual artists, dancers, poets, musicians and actors visit Bigby Place and lead workshops that participants there might not otherwise have access to.

Nick Toner spends a lot of time at Bigby Place. He said he goes there every weekday.

“It’s a wonderful place,” he said. “I feel good here.”

Asked about Neudorf’s music session, Toner said, “It’s really good for the community. I feel happy when I sing.”

He said he also fondly remembers a dance session held as part of the arts initiative.

“It has been very well received by participants,” said Lauren Schellenberg, a program co-ordinator at Bigby Place. Her colleague Erin Shippy agrees.

“The facilitators seem to be able to cater to the diverse abilities of people who come here. People are keen to be part of it, and the facilitators are amazing,” Shippy said.

The program is part of the arts council’s desire to appeal to a greater cross section of the community, said its executive director Sydney Black. She says the artist-instructors find it inspiring.

“The educators I have talked to say it is one of the most fulfilling experiences they have had in their careers,” she said. “It’s so beautiful and pure, and the intention is just so awesome. They love it.”

Related: Nelson homeshare program creates new kind of family

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Nelson singing teacher and choral director Kathleen Neudorf teaches a song to participants at Bigby Place. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

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