Making connections and finding new career paths

Anu Sharma is a curious mind who loves learning new hobbies and discovering new shows.

“As a kid, I would always stumble into anything and everything. I haven’t grown out of that phase yet. We are here to wander through other people’s stories, searching for our own.”

Anu’s path to a Media Arts degree at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) was influenced by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The blend of research opportunities and hands-on learning appealed to Anu, who saw this program as a way to further develop their career.

“I had just finished my trades certificate in 3D drafting when COVID hit. I found myself researching the program and saw how many fields interested me. The Media Arts program has several concentrations, and the Applied Interactive core requirements had promising electives and classes to choose from,” Anu explains.

Recently, Anu completed a successful practicum with the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, an experience that proved both challenging and rewarding.

From left to right: Theresia Pio (Festival Production Manager), Beatrice Frenette (Festival Artistic Director), and Anu Sharma (Festival Marketing Manager).

“I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to use my current skillset in a project designed for students showcasing their art. There was familiarity and hope in creating something that I would want to participate in,” Anu says. Working as part of a great team emphasized the importance of constant communication. “Planning between students was easy, but we relied a lot on different individuals and groups to make this festival work. As someone who wants to be part of successful projects, even when trying something entirely new, sticking to basics will help in the long run.”

The project presented significant challenges, especially in terms of vision and patience. Adaptability became a crucial constant, with the team weighing the pros and cons of each new campaign. Thanks to the efforts of the students, sponsors, and staff at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, they produced a great experience for everyone involved.

“We had to craft a festival without knowing who or what was being featured. The core idea was to include all the diverse art that students have to offer. We cast a wide net out to our community and had to work fast to tie in loose ends,” Anu recalls.

Looking ahead, Anu is eager to be part of an engaging team in the arts division.

“Thankfully, I’ve gained experience in both marketing coordination and visual communication to seek out other fun opportunities. In the future, I plan on advancing my education and perhaps pursuing a master’s in my desired field. I know whichever way I turn to, I will be able to give it my all.”

Anu’s advice to future students is to embrace the connections they make while learning.

“You have the benefit of knowing your peers and instructors while you learn. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. I learned the hard way that fear can get in the way of a lot of personal growth, someone once told me to turn that fear into excitement. Your projects are a statement of how much you’ve grown. If you plan on getting into Media Arts, be open to new learning experiences and tons of new people! It is very motivating being immersed in an environment that wants you to be creative and functional career-wise.”

Béatrice Frenette: From Stage Dreams to Teaching Aspirations

Béatrice Frenette, who graduates this summer from the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV), has already achieved significant milestones. She is the first in her immediate family to attend and complete a university degree, earning a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Communications and a minor in Theatre, along with two certificates.

“I would describe myself as dedicated and organized to learning and growing my craft,” Béatrice says, reflecting on her journey.

Béatrice’s love for theatre has been a constant throughout her life. Pairing her passion for theatre with a degree in Communications, Béatrice found a perfect balance that allowed her to explore various career paths.

“I have always had a love for theatre growing up and I knew that it was something that I wanted to pursue, whether it be on or off stage and behind the scenes. (…) A Communications [degree] opens the door to a lot of different job opportunities such as marketing, managing, research, and office job opportunities. The theatrical aspect of my degree allows me to be more open and creative with my future, which is something that I appreciate.

Her recent practicum with the Chilliwack Cultural Centre and the School of Creative Arts has been a game-changer experience.

“This practicum working with the Chilliwack Cultural Centre and the School of Creative Arts has been such a challenging and rewarding journey.”

Starting in January 2024, she and her classmates spent several months organizing the TakeOver Festival, with Béatrice taking on the role of Artistic Director. Her responsibilities included coordinating communication, scheduling meetings, soliciting donations, and shaping the festival’s vision. The theme they chose was the promotion of diverse art and harmony, and Béatrice meticulously selected student plays, short films, and art pieces to feature at the event.

As with most things in life, this practicum experience also presented its challenges.

“The biggest challenge I faced along the way was the separation between work and personal time. I felt like this practicum devoured a lot of my mind for the past several months and it definitely affected my mental capacity,” Béatrice admits. She learned the importance of trusting her team, which included Anu Sharma, the Marketing Manager and Planner, and Theresia Tio, the Production Manager. “Without my trust and faith in my team to help me get things done, the festival wouldn’t have been possible! I’ve learned that you can’t always do everything.”

Through this experience, Béatrice also gained insights into the complexities of marketing.

“Making sure everything was advertised at an appropriate time proved to be difficult due to our time constraints and communication with various department heads and individuals. In the end, everything ran smoothly!”

Looking ahead, Béatrice has her sights set on a career in education. She remains passionate about theatre and envisions a future where she can work backstage or as a theatre teacher, leading others and sharing her passion.

“Moving forward I hope to apply to the teaching program at UFV and/or UBCO. I would love to pursue getting an education degree so that I may one day work with kids and teach.”

Béatrice’s advice to future students is to embrace every opportunity.

“My biggest advice would be to always say yes to any possible opportunity that is given to you. You never know where the opportunity might lead you. Especially when it comes to working in the theatre industry, it can be very competitive and sparse. So, if there is an opportunity that comes your way, it’s a great chance for you to build your resume, make connections, gain experience, and find out what your career goals are.”

Exploring Future Careers in the Entertainment Industry

At 23, Theresia has already accomplished more than many do in a lifetime. Moving from Indonesia to Canada in May 2021, she started her journey at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV), where she is currently pursuing a double minor in Creative Writing and Media and Communications.

Theresia’s passion for storytelling began early, leading her to graduate from Vancouver Film School (VFS) with a diploma in Writing for Television, Film, and Games. Her drive to continue honing her craft brought her to UFV to continue writing her career path.

“I wanted to continue my writing journey, and one of the universities that offers a writing program is the University of the Fraser Valley,” Theresia explained.

Recently, Theresia faced one of her biggest challenges yet: managing a successful festival. The event was the result of two and a half months of intense work and planning, peaking in May with a level of stress she hadn’t anticipated. Despite the pressure, she found joy in the process.

“I am so delighted that the festival was a success. It had been two and a half months of pressure to get everything right,” she said.

From left to right: Jean-Louis Bleau (Executive Director of the Chilliwack Cultural Centre), Anu Sharma (TakeOver Festival Marketing Manager), Theresia Tio (TakeOver Festival Production Manager), and Beatrice Frenette (TakeOver Festival Artistic Director).

Managing the festival was a few budget constraints and a limited team was a challenge, she admits.

“With no budget, there are certain limits that none of the art festivals in UFV, like Interpret Festival, experienced.”

She had to be resourceful, finding donations for essentials like water and snacks for the participants and even securing free uniforms through a connection at a shirt design factory. Her attention to detail proved both a strength and a challenge, as she learned to adapt to different working styles within her team.

Theresia’s hard work paid off, and she discovered new avenues for her future career. Initially focused solely on writing for the film industry, she now sees the potential in working for art festivals, music festivals, and even production companies.

“If I am going to work in the entertainment industry, I need to be a writer. Through this journey, I realized that I may enter the industry through festivals; film festivals, art festivals, or even working in a production company.”

Looking ahead, Theresia hopes to work for a company that organizes various festivals or a production house managing television series. While she remains committed to her dream of becoming a scriptwriter, she is excited about the broader opportunities now within her reach.

For future students considering a similar practicum, Theresia has valuable advice:

“Do it wholeheartedly. It will be hard work, but everything will pay off nicely when you can watch the guests having fun, laughing, and enjoying the show, as well as the participants who will share their passion with happiness.”

Cultivating Creativity and Shaping Chilliwack’s Arts Scene: Jean-Louis Bleau and the Chilliwack Cultural Centre

Jean-Louis Bleau is a versatile professional whose career has woven through various roles in the arts sector. Currently serving as the Executive Director of the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, his journey encompasses experiences as an arts administrator, music artistic director, professional conductor, and university educator. Beyond his professional achievements, Jean-Louis finds inspiration in sailing, running, and other water-related sports, activities that ground him and fuel his creativity.

“My motivation to pursue a career in the creative arts sector is rooted in my experiences and professional journey.  As an arts administrator and artistic director, I have seen firsthand the profound impact that the arts can have on individuals and communities. The ability to spark creativity, facilitate collaboration, and drive cultural development has been incredibly fulfilling.”

At the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, Jean-Louis oversees a diverse range of programs aimed at enriching the cultural fabric of the community. His dedication stems from a desire to create meaningful experiences, support emerging talents, and contribute to a vibrant cultural landscape.

“Working here has allowed me to curate diverse and engaging programs, which has only deepened my commitment to this field,” he adds.

One of the highlights of Jean-Louis’s tenure has been his involvement with practicum students from the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV).

“Supervising practicum students in a student-led festival has been a deeply rewarding experience. These exceptional students were proactive and required only minimal guidance.”

The TakeOver Festival was a student-led festival that has proven instrumental in engaging the community through unique performances, enhancing cultural offerings, and strengthening ties with local residents. Through hands-on involvement, students gained practical experience in organizing and executing major events, refining their skills in project management, teamwork, and creative problem-solving.

“This experience not only provides them with a platform to showcase their talents but also builds confidence in their abilities, essential for their professional development,” he emphasizes.

Reflecting on the impact on the organization and the community, Jean-Louis highlights the benefits of integrating student perspectives and innovations into their programming.

“For our organization, it brings fresh ideas and enriches our events. For the community, it fosters an inclusive environment where emerging talents are celebrated, and diverse voices are heard. Witnessing the diversity of plays and films, feeling the energy in the lobby, and marvelling at the talents of the performers was a fantastic and inspiring experience,” Jean-Louis concludes.

1st Mad Monday Challenge

Dr. Linda Pardy (Associate Dean of Students and Communications Professor) outlines the challenge to both teams.

The first Mad Monday Challenge to come out of the College of Arts’ pilot project called the Student Experience Design Lab (SXD Lab), which supports real-life student-led learning opportunities, was a success.

On March 9, two student teams were challenged to conceptualize the branding of the College of Arts Experiential Learning Project. Students formed two interdisciplinary teams (comprised of Graphic and Digital Design, Criminology, Communications and Visual Arts) and were tasked to brainstorm ideas, write a report and present.

Each team worked collaboratively and applied their different skills to the challenge in order to win a grand prize of $500.

Read more1st Mad Monday Challenge

6th participate Biannual Poster Competition

Winners have been announced for the 6th pARTicipate Biannual Poster Competition. The theme of the 2019/2020 student poster contest was “Save the Earth!”

Jenna Cowie-Randle (BFA student) displays her poster: Fight for Our Planet, 2020

“For this competition I was heavily inspired by a 1960/70’s tie-dye, nature-esque look tied in with a military style ‘fight for your right’ kind of propaganda poster,” said Jenna Cowie-Randle, BFA student and second place winner.

“I wanted to put the two ideas together to create a piece that acts as a fusion of hippie and army messages, which at first may seem contradictory, but in the end I thought mixed so well— fighting for nature,” said Cowie-Randle.

To countdown and honour Earth Day 2020, the competition invited student participants to reimagine what can be done both individually and collectively for the betterment of the planet, and to empower change for a sustainable community, region and Earth.

Read more6th participate Biannual Poster Competition

Artist Q & A: Chantelle Trainor-Matties

Chantelle Trainor-Matties is a Visual Arts student at UFV

UFV Visual Arts student, Chantelle Trainor-Matties designed this year’s 2020 Student Leadership Symposium artwork, which was centered around the theme of “Empathy in Action.”

Chantelle Trainor-Matties is a mixed media artist, who is set to graduate with a Visual Arts diploma in 2020. She has created a variety of design work for small businesses and clients from around the world.

She currently works as a freelance artist ( for herself and also as an artist for Nations Creations. Some of her latest accomplishments include: the 2019 “Pink Shirt Day” hosted by Nations Creations and the New Student Orientation Symbol for UFV in 2019She recently became international, having her Indigenous artwork sold on merchandise across Canada and Seattle, WA.

Read Chantelle Trainor-Matties’ Q & A below to learn more about her creative process:

Read moreArtist Q & A: Chantelle Trainor-Matties

New School of Creative Arts has successfully launched

As of Friday, September 27, 2019, UFV College of Arts’ new School of Creative Arts (SoCA) has successfully launched.

The new cultural hub was featured in Academica Top Ten and The Abbotsford News. The school combines departments in theatre, visual arts, art history and media arts with the end goal of creating a centre for creative innovation in the Fraser Valley. Dr. Heather Davis-Fisch is the school’s new director. She was previously the department head for the theatre program from 2016-2019.

Read moreNew School of Creative Arts has successfully launched