by Sue Gallant
The Chairman of the Board of the soon-to-be-established PEI Folk Music Centre, says he anticipates the new facility will open its doors in late Summer 2004, and be in full-fledged operation by 2005. “Once complete, this new Centre will be a popular destination for our many visitors and for Islanders themselves,” says Myles Ellis.
The PEI Folk Music Centre will be housed in the historic Forbes home, located in the heart of Tyne Valley. The building has been vacant for a number of years. It used to be run as an Inn in the 1980s and 90s. Contractors will begin work on improvements and additions to the building as it now stands, in the Spring of 2004.
The new Centre will interpret the traditional music of the Island through display, instruction and performance. It will encompass all the musical traditions present on PEI, including Scottish Gaelic, Mi’kmaq, Irish, Acadian and British, as well as profiling home-grown musicians.
Ellis said the idea for the new Centre grew out of discussions amongst members of the planning committee for the Larry Gorman Festival, held (usually) annually, in this region.
Gorman was born in Tyne Valley in 1846. He was a colourful individual with a talent for writing songs that often featured fellow community members. It is just such as this rich Island tradition of story-telling and song-writing, that the new Centre will explore and keep alive.
The former owner of the building chosen to house the new PEI Folk Music Centre, is actually mentioned in one of Gorman’s most popular and well-known songs, “The Shan Van Vogh.” The title of the song is Gaelic and means, poor old woman. Gorman and his mother were living and working in Tyne Valley at the same time as Donald Forbes who later owned the Mansard-roof style house, built around 1890.
The PEI Folk Music Centre as envisioned, will have a strong emphasis on contemporary song writing. It will also provide opportunities for the songwriters and composers of tomorrow. The Centre will offer a wide variety of workshops, in conjunction with UPEI. The Centre will also feature permanent, interactive and traveling displays.
Funding for the PEI Folk Music Centre has been provided to the tune of $800,000 through the Strategic Community Investment Fund of The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. PEI’s Provincial Government is providing $200,000 over a two-year period.