Nanaimo culture and event manager awarded Above and Beyond award

Nanaimo's new culture events team in the auditorium at Bowen Park complex. Left to right: Lynn Wark; Rebecca Buckler; Julie Bevan; Michele Duerksen and Allison Collins
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"I’m grateful to be part of a passionate and supportive community and a circle of colleagues who are generous with their expertise and invested in positive change and impact through arts and culture,” said Julie Bevan.

A city of Nanaimo staff member has been recognized by the city’s chamber of commerce for showing excellence in her work. Julie Bevan, manager of culture and events for the city, was awarded a Nanaimo Business Award in the category “Above and Beyond.”

“I’m grateful to be part of a passionate and supportive community and a circle of colleagues who are generous with their expertise and invested in positive change and impact through arts and culture,” said Bevan.

She was formerly the executive director at the Nanaimo Art Gallery and left the position to take up a newly created role with the city in March of this year.

“What I learned in my previous role about collaboration, leadership and love, translates directly into this work at the city. Already, we’ve realized a number of projects together and we’re poised for big work, particularly as we undertake strategic conversations as part of Reimagine Nanaimo,” she said.

The 20th annual Nanaimo Business Awards were originally scheduled to take place in April, but the program had to be adapted for virtual presentation from the Port Theatre. The Nanaimo Chamber engaged Steve Patterson, CBC show host and comedian, to headline the Sept. 18 show. Awards were announced in 21 categories and winners were determined by vote. 

“It’s apparent to me that because of the character of our community and its arts and culture, we’re able to retain top talent in Nanaimo and attract the best from other places. We are delighted to have an enhanced culture department to contribute to the success of a great workforce at the city,” said Mayor Leonard Krog.

Several other professionals have also joined the city’s cultural team this year. Lynn Wark relocated from Campbell River for the role of director of recreation and culture in March. The city said she brings experience from Campbell River, where she played a lead role in cultural initiatives including a public art plan and heritage restorations. 

“A strong culture program creates a sense of place, belonging and community pride and we’re fortunate to have a team of leaders here in our department and a vibrant cultural community in Nanaimo. I’m impressed by what I’ve learned about Nanaimo already and looking forward to the work ahead,” said Wark.

A new position focused on coordinating events in city venues was taken up by Michele Duerksen, who previously worked in community recreation roles. Allison Collins, a curator, administrator and writer who had been based in Vancouver, moved to Nanaimo for the position of cultural services coordinator. 

The team liaised over the summer with local non-profits to help creatively adapt events and projects for COVID-19 and were responsible for the installation of over 10 public art projects at downtown locations and a program that brought live music to local seniors’ residences. 

This fall, the culture team said it will be touring and meeting staff at city-owned culture facilities; launching new channels of communication, including a newsletter called Love Arts Nanaimo; administering three grant funding programs and facilitating other public art projects, including a significant new installation at Beban pool. The team is also mapping out October focus groups on arts and culture as part of Reimagine Nanaimo, the results of which will inform updates to city plans.

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