Last in a series
In 2014 the Langham Cultural Society celebrated its 40th anniversary. It received awards and celebratory congratulations from many corners of the world.
Since the early days when Michael Guthrie and the board of dedicated directors of the newly formed Langham Cultural Society manifested their vision of a cultural hub on the shores of North Kootenay Lake in Kaslo, the society has flourished in the old Langham building, which the Nelson Star has enthusiastically highlighted over this past number of weeks.
The Langham Cultural Society’s vision is to engage visitors in a deeper understanding and enjoyment of authentic cultural heritage. Over four decades, the Langham’s programs have interpreted, educated and exhibited the tangible and intangible evidence of society. Although small in nature, the Langham provides a physical forum for critical inquiry and investigation and inspiring entertainment. Today, the heritage building houses not only the small beloved Japanese Canadian museum, but two galleries, an intimate rural theatre, 14 studios and a community multi-use room for classes in the visual, performing and literary arts.
On the heels of its gala weekend and reunion celebrations in October, the Langham was named one of the Best 100 Buildings in BC by the Architecture Foundation of BC. The society received double regional winner status as being the People’s Choice Award and also received the Judges’ Award for honourable mention in the Interior BC region.
The director and CEO of Canada Council, Simon Brault (Order of Canada and Quebec), offered the following congratulations to the Langham Cultural Society via the society’s first director, Arletta Byers, writing, “Thank you for taking the time to write about the positive effects of the grant [the Langham] received in 1976 … You have succeeded in creating a beacon of culture in your small community that proves the importance of supporting artistic life throughout our country. Congratulations to the members of the Langham Cultural Centre on your 40th anniversary, and … allowing me to discover such a wonderful success story.”
Over the years, the Langham has received other awards and recognition such as the 1977 Park and Tilford Trophy Award from Heritage Canada for “exceptional efforts devoted to beautification and community benefit.” Through the Heritage Conservation Act, the Langham was designated a provincial heritage site by the Province of British Columbia. The society also received the National Prize Award “for an outstanding contribution to heritage conservation in Canada” and was listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places on August 31, 2012.
In 2004, the Langham was awarded the Honouring the Arts award by the Assembly of the BC Arts Councils, for the Langham’s long-term contribution to the arts in BC. Last year, the Langham’s Japanese Canadian museum was honoured as a nominee for the 2014 Provincial Nesika Awards, celebrating and promoting multiculturalism in the community.
Today, the Langham is best known for its popular theatre programs; the guest artist concert series and the FLIKS international film series as well as its exhibition program of professional and emerging visual artists. For the 40th anniversary year, a popular speakers’ series, Café Langham – Inspired Ideas, was initiated. Although the society employs a part-time director and curator, all programs are co-organized and run by volunteers.
So, what is in store for the Langham in the future?
The 30th anniversary of the Japanese Canadian museum will take place in 2018 and the society looks forward to planning another celebratory anniversary year. In addition to building upgrades, the Langham is also in the process of re-packaging its annual workshops under an umbrella of offerings re-named the Living Arts series. A 40 MORE Campaign for sponsorships and funding is also being developed, to encourage another exciting 40 years and beyond. The society overall is funded by the rental of studios, a variety of government programs and the dedication of individual and corporate sponsors.
For 2015, the Langham will be offering two Living Arts series. The spring series draws on the Langham’s gallery exhibition, WATERLINE, by celebrated aboriginal west coast artist Marianne Nicolson, (April 17 to May 31). The summer/fall Living Arts series will celebrate the Langham’s Asian cultural heritage. Local senior Japanese Canadian artists Toru Fujibayashi and Tsuneko Kokubo will present their exhibition REGENERATION (July 24 to October 4).
The Langham is not just a wonderful old heritage building, it is also a place of deep memories and the celebration of the human creative imagination. It is a source of inspiration for many. The society is proud to welcome visitors from all around the world. From the burn-it-down days in the 1970s to the beautifully award-winning restored heritage building that is seen today, the Langham lives on in the hearts of many.
Maggie Tchir is executive director of the Langham Cultural Society.