Coast galleries start limited re-openings

The Sunshine Coast’s two major public art galleries, closed since mid-March, have cautiously re-opened this week as the pandemic scare and B.C. health regulations on public gatherings start to ease.

The Sunshine Coast Art Centre (SCAC) in Sechelt, run by the Sunshine Coast Arts Council, opened its doors on Wednesday, May 20, while Gibsons Public Art Gallery (GPAG) opened the following day.

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The SCAC said in a release that it has developed, “a series of robust protocols to keep staff and visitors safe.” No more than six people will be allowed into the Art Centre at any time, and the kitchen and washrooms will be closed. Masks will be available for purchase, “and we encourage you to consider wearing them when visiting for everyone’s comfort and safety.” Hand sanitizer and disinfectant will be available throughout the building for use, the release added.

The decision to re-open was made at an online May 14 SCAC board meeting, following weeks of discussion, curator/director Sadira Rodrigues told Coast Reporter. The exhibit that occupied the Art Centre’s Doris Crowston Gallery when it closed March 15, Thread, by artist Mehran Modarres-Sadeghi, will continue until June 7. Modarres-Sadeghi, through SCAC, is also offering a series of weekly online workshops, Skills for Solitude, through Saturday, May 30.

Opening receptions for arts shows, where dozens of art fans gather on a weekend afternoon for conversation and refreshments, are a staple of gallery life. Current guidelines prohibit such events and Rodrigues said she doesn’t see that changing anytime soon. “Until a vaccine is found,” she said, “we want to be very cautious.”

GPAG is following the same provincially determined social-distancing guidelines, including the limit on the number of people allowed in the building at any one time, the gallery’s board of directors president, Leslie Thomson, said in an interview.

Thomson said the youth art show Shout Out, which was on display when GPAG shut down, will continue until the end of May. The fabric-art exhibit Between the Layers, which had been scheduled for April, now will run from June 4 to July 5.

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