Celtic Music Interpretive Centre introduces new executive director
-by John Gillis
It’s always a special treat to spend a Sunday afternoon at a ceilidh at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique and I was fortunate to have that opportunity last Sunday.
The weekly ceilidh’s run from 2:00 p.m – 5:00 p.m. year ’round, but the winter weather factor occasionally means cancellation.
The fact the weather cooperated last Sunday meant for an excellent turnout, both to enjoy an afternoon of great music with fiddler Shelly Campbell (accompanied by Allan Dewar on piano), and to welcome and introduce the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre’s new executive director, Patti (MacDonald) David.
Patti comes on board following in the footsteps of Cheryl Smith, who had served as the previous executive director for the past seven years.
To say that Patti is excited by the opportunity to manage the Centre would be an understatement.
She grew up just south of Judique, at Long Point, is a graduate of Judique Consolidated School and following a degree in Political Science and Government from Dalhousie University, she moved on to Windsor, Ontario, where for 17-plus years she was married, raised a family, and worked in various fields of employment; the bulk of which was in employee development and counseling, volunteer management, creative programming development, group facilitation, and marketing. She also completed a Certificate in Volunteer Management at St. Clair College.
Patti is also an artist and many of you have probably seen her work these past couple of years at The Mabou Farmer’s Market.
Most recently, Patti spent a couple of years managing the Port Hawkesbury branch of the YMCA.
Patti looks forward to the challenges of running the centre and is encouraged by the opportunity.
She paid tribute to the late Leo A. MacDonell, an inspiration to her and one of her favourite school teachers and a founding member of the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre.
“His voice is in my head all the time. Make your own decisions, know your skills, work hard – all those things. He really influenced my life and it’s so interesting that I’m back here doing something that he would be so happy about. After raising two boys, who are now on their own, I thought I’d move back home and lead a simpler, quieter life, but that didn’t quite work out,” she laughs. In her spare time is also a yoga instructor.
Musician Allan Dewar (music director) and the board of directors, staff, and volunteers of the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre will be there to work closely with Patti and she delves more deeply into running the centre in the coming weeks and months.
Patti noted that there are many successes to draw upon and to continue with the centre, but she’s also excited to have the confidence of the board to try new ideas as well.
“Culture, hospitality, tourism, and marketing is what really gets me going. I see so many opportunities. I’ve always been so impressed the times in the past to come here to the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique and it’s such an amazing centre to have right here in Judique! Hospitality is an important factor and that’s been a factor we want to continue, not just for our visitors but for our own communities. It’s not just a centre for our tourists; it’s for our community and our communities, so let’s get children involved, let’s hear ideas. We want to hear ideas. Let’s try new things. A lot of people are realizing that we can do more right here in Cape Breton and that you don’t always have to move to a larger centre,” she added.
Patti said the people have been so welcoming and supportive to her since she has taken on the position.
“We have a treasure trove of irreplaceable material in this building. I’m wanting to work on partnerships to get more things going here and I want to work hard for everyone here,” she added.
As we move through the exhibit room of the centre , through the hallway and the Gift Shop, some of that treasure trove of material becomes evident, the beautiful murals of Cape Breton culture by Peter J. Rankin, the old kitchen stove, the old reel to reel recording equipment, the vintage archival photographs, the LP and CD displays of classic releases, memories of Glendale, the tunes composed in recent years by fiddler Shelly Campbell paying tribute to those who have supported the centre, the regular patrons who attend the ceilidhs so faithfully each week, the singers, the pipers, the dancers, and so much more.
Those treasures continue to be built and created. It’s a place where memories have been made and hopefully, will continue to be made for many years to come.
Stop by and visit the centre the next chance you get. There’s something going on year ’round at The Celtic Music Centre! Come to a ceilidh at the centre and introduce yourself to Patti and the rest of the staff and volunteers.
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