The Columbia Valley Arts Council (CV Arts) has a new executive director, with Columbia Valley local Cajsa Fredin taking over the role.

Fredin has been involved in the valley’s arts and culture scene since she was a kid, and is perhaps best known to valley residents and visitors as one of the three friendly co-owners of Black Star Studios and Gallery on Invermere’s main street.

Having founded Black Star with fellow co-owners Natalie Ruby and Jen Abra and built the business from the ground up for more than a decade, Fredin is sad to be leaving Black Star behind, but is filled with enthusiasm by the possibilities and challenges that come with being the CV Arts executive director.

“I’m very excited and very honoured to have been chosen by the CV Arts board and by the community for this job,” said Fredin. “In some ways it’s kind of surreal. When I was a little girl, I used to think about the CV Arts job, and how cool it would be to be in that role. Now that dream has actually come full circle and I have that position.”

Fredin grew up in the valley, graduated from David Thompson Secondary School and then pursued her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Calgary. She returned to the valley, and worked a number of jobs while creating her own art. In 2009, she, Ruby and Abra set up Black Star, which has since become a mainstay fixture of both Invermere’s main street and of the valley’s arts and culture scene.

“The arts community in the valley means a lot to me, which is part of what makes this particularly special. When I applied for the job, I had to get letters of support from the arts community. And it’s clear from that process that a lot of people in the arts community have seen what we’ve been doing at Black Star and how we’ve really tried to bring art to the community. I’ve very grateful and thankful for that support. It’s humbling,” said Fredin. “The Columbia Valley really does have a rich history of arts and culture. I like to joke that there must be something in the water, but really I don’t know what it is that makes the valley that way. It may be that with the natural surroundings here, there’s so much to be inspired by, and perhaps that makes people focus a bit more on the creative side of things.”