The Birth of the Allied Arts Council

by Arliss Liggett Cuff

In the fall of 1979, my husband and I traveled to San Francisco for a vacation. During that time, we visited an outdoor Arts Festival in Sausalito. As we toured the Festival, viewing various forms of artwork, enjoying the music and outdoor atmosphere, I wondered why couldn't we have an arts festival like this in Spruce Grove?

When we arrived home, I contacted several artists in the community and asked them what they thought of the idea. Their enthusiasm for the project encouraged me to organize the first Arts Festival in 1980. It was held at the Woodhaven school gym in conjunction with the annual Agra Fair celebrations. The focus was on the visual arts, with about thirty artists participating. Joe Clark, our local Member of Parliament, cut the ribbon to officially open the festival.

As a result of the success of this event, a proposal was presented to Town Council seeking their support of the concept of creating a new organization whose goal would be to develop and promote the visual arts. The proposal was accepted, and before long, the Allied Arts Council was formed. Soon there were a number of artists from Spruce Grove, Parkland County, the City of Edmonton, and the City of St. Albert participating in the Allied Arts Council's activities.

In 1982, the AAC introduced the first Juried Art Show (now known as the Open Art Competition). The Juried Art Show was supported by Melcor Developments Ltd., which made a generous donation to the Town toward the purchase of artwork for placement in public facilities.
Arliss Liggett Cuff is a founding member and the first President of the Allied Arts Council. June Harrison (now deceased) and Bob Barclay were members of the founding committee.