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New West welcomes back former arts council executive director in a new role

Stephen O’Shea, former executive director of the Arts Council of New Westminster, has taken on a new role as program co-ordinator for the New Media Gallery.

When one door closes, another opens.

Back in June 2022, the city of New Westminster came together to celebrate the arts and bid adieu to one of city’s prominent members of the art council, Stephen O’Shea.

The ‘You Say Party! We say Die!’ musician had at been at the helm of the art council since 2015, and his departure from the council was met with regret by many. But the city did not see the last of him, as he promptly stepped into a new role at one of world’s most renowned new media art galleries.

New Media Gallery, known for bringing technology and art together, appointed O’Shea as the program coordinator for its lab.

In his seven-year tenure at the arts council, O’Shea had been vigorously helping build the arts scene in New West.

In taking on the role of the new program coordinator of the lab, he hopes to facilitate a more vibrant arts community, especially among the youth in New Westminster.

O’Shea stresses that it's important for the community to understand how the arts can affect lives, by helping connect people to a broader range of ideas.

In order to get people explore and interact with new concepts, ideas and technology, which may already be a part of their daily lives, he is seeking to have the lab provide an accessible space for experimentation.

“Whether it's a piece of technology you're familiar with or one you've never experienced before," he said, “you have the opportunity to explore and take those risks and really gain a better grasp and understanding of the ideas and technologies that exist.”

After serving on the arts council for seven years, O’Shea was planning to transition to a new role, and looking for opportunities in different places including the Vancouver International Airport.

However, the city of New Westminster called him home, as he prepared to “serve the community in a different way.”

Engaging people and sparking dialogue with art has been at the forefront for New Media Gallery since its early days. The gallery, which was brought to life by Director-Curators, Gordon Duggan and Sarah Joyce, has created an intersection for art and technology, allowing them to coexist and create a new form of experience. The gallery has been bringing in the world’s most reputed artists to New Westminster for eight years.

The exhibitions have seen the world of science collide with the beauty of art over the years, and the lab aids in providing a platform for the community to explore art using technology.

The NMG Creative lab

The gallery's NMG Creative lab has offered programs for the community since 2015.

With the appointment of O'Shea, the gallery's director-curator couple hope to create a wider outreach for programs and to expand the educational opportunities of exhibitions.

“We knew that we wanted the new coordinator to have a contemporary art background and some understanding of technology,” said Sarah Joyce.

“[O'Shea] had exactly the same vision and understanding of how to connect with the public," she said. "And this was vitally important for us. This understanding and experience with communication and with public engagement was really critical for how we move forward into the next decade.”

The gallery's MOUTHPIECE exhibition opens to the public on Sept. 29.

For programs at the lab, visit New Media Gallery.