Stories: Celtic Music Interpretive Centre

Cetlic Music Interpretive Centre

Our Storm Clouds & Silver Linings series tells stories of some Nova Scotia nonprofit organizations and how they’re rising up to meet the very real and profound challenges and opportunities for innovation during COVID-19. These stories are a snap-shot in time taken before the reopening process started.

Celtic Music Interpretive Centre

Interview with Executive Director, Patti MacDonald-David

Celtic Music Interpretive Centre (CMIC) is designated as the Official Celtic Music Centre of Nova Scotia and the official cultural archives for Inverness County. Serving over 20,000 visitors annually, the CMIC programs and services cater to all ages, preserving Cape Breton Island’s Celtic heritage, arts and culture while contributing to a vibrant local community and economy.

CMIC operates year-round, with an Executive Director and Music Director working full time, along with a part-time archivist. They manage bookings with international tour companies, schedule recording times, digitize music, organize ceilidhs and register program participants. Located in Judique (pop. 700), the Centre radiates atmosphere, featuring interactive exhibits, a full-service restaurant and bar, workshops, ceilidhs and live entertainment. Off-season, Sunday ceilidhs keep traditions alive through the winter, providing citizens with opportunities for employment, exercise and social well-being.

“When the fiddle starts and the dancers of all ages hit the dance floor; time and space disappear; aches and pains dissolve, and worries evaporate”, says Life Coach, Mildred Lynn McDonald. “The music is so innately joyful and uplifting that it touches the soul, and in doing so, restores the natural balance of community life. It is that powerful.”

Not this year! Amid COVID-19, the Centre is closed to the public. Executive Director, Patti MacDonald-David says “I’m technically laid off at this point in time, but I must keep on top of things. I am in the office. Working at home is not doable.”

Celtic Music Interpretive Centre - Illustration by Lin Luo

“Normally open the public from June to October, we employ 15 to 20 full- and part-timers staff doing archival work, giving workshops, managing studio space, a stage, restaurant and gift shop,” MacDonald-David continues. “Services and employment are severely reduced, while planning for future events is nearly impossible. The worst may be yet come.”

Alarming projections for tourism predict as many as 60% of small businesses may not survive the season, while the Centre may lose 80% of annual revenues. “We are actively searching for ways to adapt, and move beyond reliance on project funding and tourist flow,” says MacDonald-David. “The development of ‘drive-in Ceilidhs’’ is being mulled over as a way to keep sharing and promoting Celtic music.”

Rebecca Baccardax

Portrait Illustration by:

Rebecca Baccardax
Visit Rebecca’s Website Lin Luo website photo

Story Illustration by:

Lin Luo
Visit Lin’s Website
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