Bill is our Guru. He inspires us and understands the role people play in powering the arts in BC, everyday in communities large and small.
As Arts BC’s Artistic Director for Creative Thinking, he helps to adhere to our values of sharing knowledge, in an open and transparent way with respect and integrity; of fresh thinking by being creative in our own work, encouraging new ideas and welcoming unique perspectives; by ensuring inclusiveness from emerging to professional, local to urban; committing to diversity in artistic talent, identity, community and perspective; and by adhering to higher standards in the delivery of our work: supporting the people power of the arts!
Folk icon and social activist, Pete Seeger, gave Bill Usher a message he’ll never forget.
“It was the 70s, the hippy era, a time when people were looking for these great spaces, these hot spots where there was community,” Usher says. “We were backstage at the Mariposa Folk Festival in Ontario and Pete’s rant that day was, ‘you don’t find community, you make community’.”
That message has informed Usher’s life. As executive director of the Golden District Arts Council, or Kicking Horse Culture, as well as board member of the BC Arts Council, he brings that energy to the forefront every day.
“When you’re in a career, you follow the good ideas and then you huff and puff to get the work done,” he says. “You take the original vision and carry it to the end. What I’m doing here in Golden is what I’ve done all my life, pursuing a great idea.”
The 1980s saw Usher producing records, and winning four Junos in the process, then move into organizing folk festivals, writing music, touring across Canada, as well as working in TV and acting. But by the end of the 1990s, Usher moved over to more administrative roles with the Ontario and Toronto arts councils, and the Ontario Ministry of Culture.
When he arrived in Golden in 2002, Usher kept a low profile, first volunteering as chair of the arts council and working from home. He became executive director in 2006.
“Arts councils are for the whole community, and many community members have contributed to the arts in Golden,” he says. “Local government and business, volunteers, and the school district have all embraced the vision and rolled up their sleeves to get the work done.” www.kickinghorseculture.ca