Belonging. Isn’t that what we all want? Whether it is within our family, friendships, jobs, or communities, finding a place to belong in this world is worth its weight in gold.
This is the essence of Serenity. From the first time I sat on that acreage and heard the music spread across the pasture and echo off the mountainside, I knew I was a part of something incredibly special. Every time I climb down those stairs into the cozy living room for a house concert, I feel as if I could curl up and stay for days. It feels like home.
There is a safety that washes over me. Expectations disappear. I revert to the most at peace version of myself. Quiet, observant, introverted, sponge of emotion, thoughtful, reflective. I just take it all in without needing to be anything other that who I am in that moment. It is equal parts freeing and nurturing.
We celebrated venue owner Shirley de Vooght’s birthday this past weekend. Everyone came dressed in red flannel. Windborn performed and donated all of the proceeds from the ticket sales back to the venue as a fundraiser. He knows better than most the labour of love this place has been. He has spent countless hours helping to repair buildings and assist with construction. The fundraiser was timely to help support the mounting fees from SOCAN that have been pouring in recently. Shirley spoke in length to the reality she is facing as a small independent venue owner being forced to pay up to SOCAN in order to not be faced with legal action. It is heartbreaking for those of us who see how selflessly hard she works (even through being diagnosed with leukemia and going through chemo last year), knowing full well that any profit she might make from a show goes directly into the costs of keeping up the venue which houses and feeds the artists when they are here. Her hospitality and the experience artists get when performing here have earned Serenity such high praise and appreciation among touring musicians that a number of bands based in Vancouver are hosting a concert fundraiser for the venue on February 18 at the Imperial Theatre. This shows what an impact Shirley and Serenity as a whole has made on the independent music industry in BC.
After Windborn’s house concert the other night, a group of regulars remained after the show to visit and celebrate Shirley’s birthday. We played the infamous Serenity champagne game which includes passing around a bottle of champagne and sharing a favourite memory or thankful offering before taking a swig and passing it on. Looking around that circle of 20 people I was amazed. School teachers, a bus driver, a homemaker, a farmer, a corporate business manager, some retirees, a musician, a social service worker, a mechanic, a few high school students (no, they didn’t drink, the teachers happen to be their parents), a veterinarian…and the list goes on. This cross-section of people in our community may never have connected and yet now are so intertwined with each other that we consider ourselves part of a ‘Serenity family.’ Who knew deciding to attend a music concert one day could lead to something like this.
Shirley continues to be driven by a vision to create a place where music heals, delights, entertains, connects and inspires love for others and love for oneself.
Thank you Shirley for holding space for us. Here’s to you.
Windborn performed at Serenity Performing Arts Centre on November 26, 2016. Find him on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Windborn/119928271351346