The last two years have brought many changes to the W.D.C.A., including many new faces on our Board of Directors. Please take a moment to get to know them here:
Chair – Dave Babbitt:
Dave has long been associated with the cultural fabric of Wallaceburg. Recently retired after serving as Music Director at WDSS for 31 years, he now serves as the Music Director for the Wallaceburg Concert Bands which he helped establish 4 years ago. He is also the founder and playing-leader for The Brass Factory Big Band and a member of the Wallaceburg Brass Quintet. He served as President of the Wallaceburg and District Council for the Arts for several years, was Music Director for several large-scale musicals, is a former member of The Lounge Lizards, Music Director for the WAMBO Interdenominational Church Service, is active in the Music Ministry in his own church and contributes an Arts column in the local Courier Press.
Vice Chair – Jane McGee:
A little about Jane McGee
I was born in Chatham (Wallaceburg didn’t have a hospital when I entered this world), and raised in Wallaceburg. I attended Central Public, W.T. Laing and WDSS. Received a diploma in Recreation Leadership in 1977. I have worked in Municipal Recreation for the Town of Wallaceburg and subsequently the Municipality of Chatham-Kent ever since.
One of my more formidable assignments upon securing the Community Recreation Manager’s position with the Town of Wallaceburg was to work towards the organization and development of an Arts Council for the Wallaceburg area. I have continued to be involved throughout the years with the exception of the small hiatus or period of inactivity the Arts Council took in the mid 2000’s.
I am pleased and excited that through the efforts of many, in 2012 the Wallaceburg and District Council for the Arts regrouped and re-energized.
My gift for the Arts is NOT in music, nor visual arts, nor performing arts. Honestly, I have no artistic talents at all. What I do have is a great appreciation for those who do. I very much enjoy being in the audience, gallery etcetera enjoying their craft.
Secretary – Fran Aarssen:
Hello, I am Fran Aarssen, Arts Council Recording Secretary. I was born in Blind River Ontario, number 10 of 11 children. We moved to Wallaceburg in 1975. I attended WDSS where I studied art under the guidance of Mr. Race, and music under Mr. Botai where I learned the clarinet.
I went on to study art at St. Clair College with the focus on painting, drawing and sculpting along with other forms of crafting.
In 1982, I married Mark and had 2 children, Audrey and Joshua. I now have 4 grandchildren, Summer, Wolfe, Edie and Oliver.
Through the years I have volunteered on various committees, boards and churches. I became interested in singing in choirs, vocal ensembles, duets, and as a soloist. Currently I am a member of the Wallaceburg Concert Band where I play the alto saxophone.
I can’t imagine life without the arts! It has always been a part of my life and has helped me relax and express myself in various forms! I am happy to be a part of the Arts Council to help reach others so they too may find some form of joy and relaxation as they explore this wonderful world of the arts!
Treasurer – Sonya De Naeyer-Louzon:
Hello, I am Sonya De Naeyer-Louzon, Treasurer of the W.D.C.A. since January of 2020. I also assist by developing and maintaining our website.
I was born and raised in Wallaceburg. My love of music was inspired early by Mrs. Shirley Sewell while attending A.A. Wright, and further developed by Mr. Dave Babbitt while attending W.D.S.S. What phenomenal mentors!
I currently live in Chatham with my amazing husband Gary. I have three wonderful children (Jesse, Joshua, and Hannah), each grown and living away from home.
I have been an LKDSB teacher now for 16 years, and am currently in an assistive technology role for the LKDSB. I have been a part of the Wallaceburg Concert Band since its’ inception, both as a performer (playing flute) and as part of its’ executive. I have recently joined the Brass Factory, and enjoy the challenge of learning to play some “very difficult to me” guitar pieces.
I look forward for great things to come in Wallaceburg, while supporting the Arts through my role within the W.D.C.A.
Director – Dan White:
Born and raised in Sarnia-Lambton, Dan White has resided in Chatham Kent for the past few years.
Dan has been involved on the arts for over four decades. He studied music at Western and went on to teach music and dramatic arts in Sarnia for 31 years. Dan has been involved in over 100 theatrical productions in Sarnia-Lambton with Theatre Sarnia, Petrolia Community Players and with his secondary school program at Sarnia Collegiate where, among other shows, he directed and produced the annual SCITS Revue for 19 years.
Now a resident of Chatham-Kent, Dan has performed with Theatre Kent, directed shows in Wallaceburg and is a member of both the Wallaceburg Concert Band and Wallaceburg Brass Quintet. Recently Dan joined a few like-minded artists and created the Chatham-Kent Arthouse project to further foster creativity in the area.
Dan has previously served on the Huron House Boys’ Home board of directors, Theatre Sarnia board of directors and is currently a member of the Wallaceburg and District Arts Council, Chatham-Kent Arts and Culture Network and the Alliance of Arts Councils of Ontario.
Director – Rebecca Rynsoever:
By day, Rebecca is a Mechanical Engineer at an engineering consulting firm in Sarnia, by night she is passionate about the arts. Rebecca moved to the area in 2006 from Oakville and loves small town life.
Rebecca’s love for playing instruments began when she was five and her family inherited her Oma’s organ. Her babysitter taught her to play the M*A*S*H theme song and she was immediately hooked on making music. Rebecca started with piano and eventually picked up flute, guitar and ukulele. She played flute in the University of Guelph Orchestra as a break from her engineering studies. Currently Rebecca plays the flute in the Wallaceburg Concert Band and is the Music Librarian for the group where she organizes and distributes the sheet music and makes way too many spreadsheets.
Rebecca trained in ballet for 16 years and continued dancing into adulthood by participating in musical theatre productions. She picked up jazz and tap along the way and annoys her husband by tap dancing around the house. Locally Rebecca has worked on and off stage for Theatre Kent, Dances in the Park, TK CabCo, Theatre Sarnia and the short-lived Glasstown Players. When not on-stage, she has worked back-stage producing, directing, stage managing and constructing sets. Rebecca has also worked as a producer and script supervisor for an award-winning web series and other small film productions.
Rebecca has sat on several arts boards including Theatre Kent, Wallaceburg Concert Band and Curtain Call Productions (Guelph). Rebecca is excited about joining the W.D.C.A. and looks forward to promoting the arts in the area.
Director – Brenda Mann:
Raised on the family farm in the former Chatham Township, Brenda grew up singing in choirs and playing the piano. While attending W.T. Laing P.S. she was a member of the instrumental music program and began to play the French horn. During her years attending W.D.S.S., Brenda was part of the senior band with teacher Andy Botai, the keyboard player in the big band “Brass with Class”, and the director/performer of one of the final Tartan Revue talent shows.
Presently, Brenda plays keyboard with the “Brass Factory” big band, plays French horn in the Wallaceburg Community Band and sings in her church choir.
Brenda retired from the Lambton Kent District School Board following a 34 year career in education. She shared her love of music with her students as their music teacher, director of musicals, Christmas Concerts, and talents shows. As an administrator, Brenda continued to promote the arts by supporting school wide art projects, open houses to showcase student talents through musicals and dramatic productions and by encouraging the development of those talents by hosting local artists. Brenda is pleased to have the opportunity as a member of the Arts Council to again support our local artists and provide enjoyment and entertainment to the residents of Wallaceburg and the surrounding communities.
Director – Gretchen Sands-Gamble:
My name is Gretchen Sands-Gamble, I’m from Bkejwanong, also known as Walpole Island First Nation. I am from the Turtle Clan, and I am an Anishinaabe woman. I am a member of the board of directors of the WDCA. I am also currently the Elementary Indigenous Education Teacher for the Lambton Kent District School board.
Art has always been a huge part of my life. My parents are both artsy and craftsy and I grew up surrounded by works of art in my home and my community.
I have played music all my life, never really mastering any one instrument, but having lots of fun while learning! I started with the piano at a young age, learned the guitar in highschool, picked up the clarinet and played with the Wallaceburg Concert Band for a couple of years, and recently learned to play the accordion.
I have a Bachelor’s degree in visual arts from the University of Western Ontario, with a focus on painting. While being a mom of 2 kids, a teacher and going to school doesn’t leave a lot of free time, I manage to work on small projects, and in the past 2 years have discovered a love of quilting.
In my role in the WDCA I hope to help highlight the amazing Indigenous artists that are from this area. In Bkejwanong, we have a rich history of arts and crafts that deserves recognition in our traditional territories.
Director – Sue Baert:
Bio coming soon!