Jackie Zinger - President of Open Sky Creative SocietyJackie Zinger

President of Open Sky Creative Society

Jackie has been involved with Open Sky for the past three years. Currently she is the president and has served in the past as the vice president and a director. Jackie works for Parks Canada and has lived in Fort Simpson for the past five years with her husband and two children. She is an avid nature photographer and her work has been displayed in art galleries and local businesses, and has been used in promotional materials, travel magazines and websites.

“It is an honor to be the president of Open Sky Creative Society. The Society is very important and unique to our community, bringing in high caliber arts and cultural programming that is open to all to experience and participate in. I am constantly amazed by the diversity of creative talent that Open Sky supports. Some of my favorite moments of Open Sky have been the opportunities to take part in incredible workshops ranging from silversmithing, moose hair tufting, fur mitt making, to parka and traditional vest making. Also being able to watch world class musicians and artists perform in an intimate setting in our community has been a rare opportunity”.

Linsday Linsday “Kiwi North” Waugh

Vice-President

As a founding member of Open Sky Creative Society, I feel it is extremely important for the fabric of any community to have a society that can encourage and showcase local art and music. It has been my pleasure as music coordinator / M.C. and musician over the last 15 years in helping to keep the arts alive in the Dehcho.

We as a Society in today’s world are faced with new challenges.

It is OSCS’s fundamental mandate over the next year to continue to create new and exciting ways to make the arts “hands on” along with visual displays on different disciplines.

I like to see, the encouragement of music for young people and live performances.

I have been performing and writing music and have produced three CD’s over the last 10 years. I feel it is my duty to encourage others to find their passion.

Roxanna Thompson – TreasurerRoxanna Thompson

Treasurer

Roxanna Thompson is an award winning journalist with the Dehcho Drum, a weekly newspaper based in Fort Simpson, NT. She is currently exploring a number of different art forms including traditional crafts of the Dehcho region, rug hooking and photography.

As a multi-year board member with the Open Sky Creative Society and the treasurer for a second term, Roxanna hopes to continue to support the Society’s mandate and ensure the Society is able to provide arts programming to the residents of Fort Simpson and the wider region.

Holly Watt – SecretaryHolly Watt

Secretary

Like so many others, Holly is not an artist but must content herself in being a strong supporter of those who are. Her extended family includes two full time professional artists and two fiercely dedicated amateur musicians, which gives her some insight into many of the challenges facing artists at the local level

Holly believes strongly in the importance of art and music in the life of a community, and has been exposed to a whole new reality of what this means in the North. She hopes that her many years of experience in government can support the Open Sky Creative Society, and the many impressive artists who have worked so hard over the years to ensure its success.

Alison Brown – DirectorAlison Brown

Director

Alison Brown has lived in Fort Simpson since 2005. She is a traditional artist, listed in the NWT Arts directory. She often works with the ladies from Fort Simpson, Nahanni Butte and Jean Marie River. Her major interests in are traditional arts, sewing, painting and cultural activities.

“I love Open Sky’s friendliness and the ability to pass on skills to others in all areas of art. Everyone is welcomed and not judged and encouraged to create their own personal masterpieces. I love that there is such a variety of offerings for the people of Fort Simpson and surrounding communities.”

Open-Sky-Chuck-BlythChuck Blyth

Director

Chuck Blyth has been a member of the Open Sky board of directors since its inception 15 years ago. He has served as vice president, and president, and is currently serving as a director. Chuck owns and operates an environmental consulting company. He has four children all working and living in the NWT. His wife Freda is the principal of the local high school. He is also an accomplished artist, working in pastels and pencil on paper. Chuck has served in many other volunteer positions including vice president of NWT minor hockey, the board of directors for Katimivik, the Liberal party of Canada NWT Riding Association, and the Trudeau foundation as a mentor. He believes in a volunteering for the things he feels strongly about and making Fort Simpson, the Dehcho and the NWT a better place to live in.

“I love the energy that Open Sky Creative Society generates, the amazing artists we interact with and the eclectic nature of the arts we foster. My favorite moments in Open Sky have been the many amazing national caliber artists that we have brought here and seeing their interaction with our local, Dehcho and NWT artists. Seeing a young boy playing at our coffee houses going on to be a nationally celebrated violinist is really what we are all about.”

Michelle Leger Past PresidentMichelle Leger

Past President

Michelle Leger has been a member of the Open Sky board of directors since 2014. She served as president in 2014 and is currently a board member. Michelle works as an apprentice electrician at the power plants in the Dehcho and Sahtu region. She moved up to the NWT five years ago from Ontario in search of a new adventure and fell in love with the northern landscape and culture. She is a hobbyist, finding expression through many different types of craft (from brewing to photography). She believes in the promotion of self-expression through art and craft, and building an encouraging environment for others to do the same.

“I love the space Open Sky creates. We make a comfortable and supportive environment for people to learn and develop their artistic skills. From beginners to seasoned artists, everyone is welcome.”

Open-Sky-Deborah-StipdonkDeborah Stipdonk

Director

Deborah Stipdonk is an enthusiastic, lifelong textile artist. Her interests are varied, and include needlework, knitting, garment construction (especially parka making), and quilting. A former high school and elementary school teacher, she is now enjoying teaching adults in the field. Deborah began sewing at the age of eight on a old miniature Singer machine, a Christmas gift from her Grandma. She has wonderful memories of making simple projects with Evelyn Ashford, her grandmother. Amongst her earliest memories are paper beading, handkerchief construction, and spool knitting with her.

Deb’s philosophy is that most of all, projects need to be fun. Skill development and confidence will increase only if the participants enjoy the activity! Textile arts are a means to stimulating creativity, self-satisfaction, and enriching social interaction.

Deb has lived in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories for over thirty years. She was born in Montreal, and raised in Toronto, but considers Fort Simpson to be her home. She has a wonderful family consisting of three sons, a daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter who all reside nearby. She is looking forward to teaching Lindsey, her two year-old grandchild, skills that she can carry forward with her too!

Audrey Steedman   DirectorAudrey Steedman

Director

Audrey Steedman was new to Open Sky in 2014, and joined the board as a director-at-large. She is a biologist and loves working in northern landscapes. She has tried her hand at a variety of creative pursuits including dance and textile arts, and appreciates the opportunities for creative self-expression and learning that are fostered by a vibrant arts community.

“As a newcomer to the community, I’ve been blown away by the caliber and variety of Open Sky arts events, and the warm and welcoming community that Open Sky brings together. Participating in workshops lead by talented local and regional artists has been the highlight of my Open Sky experience. After 15 years, Open Sky has a rich history In Fort Simpson and the Dehcho, so I’m very excited to join the board now as we build on those accomplishments and come up with new Open Sky offerings”.

anyesAnyes Fabre-Dimsdale

Exectutive Director Programming

Anyes Dimsdale is presently serving as Open Sky’s part-time Executive Director.

Anyes has a background in Fine Arts and independent film production, and has worked on a diversity of film and multi-media projects for the last few years that have led her to crisscross the NWT, enjoying the beauty and uniqueness of its land and culture.

“It is a privilege to meet and work with such a diversity of artists and artisans, musicians and performers who come to Open Sky to share their talents. I particularly enjoy learning from Dehcho elders as they share their skilled craftsmanship to eager workshop participants, and listening to their stories as they demonstrate their craft.”