New arts funding announced this week by the B.C. government will benefit four Sunshine Coast organizations that are taking steps to welcome new audiences and expand capabilities.
Two non-profit institutions on the southern Sunshine Coast — Deer Crossing The Art Farm in Gibsons and the Roberts Creek Community Association — will use portions of the $151,202 in grants announced Thursday by Nicholas Simons, MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast.
Two organizations in Powell River — the Powell River Council for Arts and Culture and the Powell River Film Society—are also beneficiaries.
“People on the Sunshine Coast are proud of our local arts and culture scene, and want to see it continue to thrive,” said Simons. “These grants will help preserve and enhance our arts spaces, so we can enjoy them for years to come.”
Province-wide, the B.C. government has committed $4 million this year in grant funding to 84 arts and cultural organizations through its Arts Infrastructure Program. The program provides grants to arts and cultural organizations to develop and enhance spaces that support B.C.’s arts and cultural practitioners.
Executive director of Deer Crossing The Art Farm, Chad Hershler, said that $70,000 designated for the Art Farm will improve accessibility of its five-acre facility, enabling more collaborative projects involving people living with mobility challenges and dementia.
"We've also been collaborating with elders and knowledge carriers," said Herschler. "As those projects have unfolded and as we invite collaborators to our space, we recognize that we need to do some improvements to really make it as safe and effective a space as possible."
Plans are under way to upgrade pathways, lighting, ramps, and outdoor decking to allow for wheelchair access.
Among other current projects, the Art Farm is currently collaborating with The Good Samaritan Society Christenson Village and Douglas College to organize pop-up studios for individuals living with dementia to share their stories and engage with the community.
"We genuinely try to lean as possible towards authentic collaboration," said Hershler. "And we know that inevitably that's a bit of a messier process. It means things can take a little longer for languages to be translated across the different worlds we inhabit."
The Roberts Creek Community Association was awarded $37,257 to advance sound system and lighting upgrades, augmenting the recently-renovated Roberts Creek Hall with portable equipment to enhance community celebrations and rental opportunities.
"This will give us funding to buy LED lights that are less of a fire hazard, and able to be programmed and controlled from the ground," said Sarah Bradley, President of the Roberts Creek Community Association. Audio gear was locally-ordered from MELOmania, a music store and school located in the Creek's commercial hub.
The Roberts Creek Hall was constructed in 1934 as the result of volunteer labour and fundraising.
"We're really super-focused on having it go for another 100 years," said Bradley, "and be able to host dances, Santa in the Creek and Creek Daze, and all of that community-building stuff that goes on there, while supporting small vendors like Curry in the Creek that works out of the kitchen there.”
Karen Spicer, the association's vice president, said the Hall was booked 90 per cent of the time before the pandemic.
"The Roberts Creek Community Association’s free outdoor music series, Slow Sundays, attracts dozens of locals and tourists every Sunday afternoon from June to September," Spicer said. "This series serves as a cultural and economic lifeline for many local artists. Many of these artists, especially emerging ones, depend on live performances to develop their craft, generate fans, and earn income.”
The audiovisual equipment will supplement a major kitchen and bathroom upgrade project at the Hall, including installation of a full commercial kitchen, a gender-neutral bathroom, and other additions.
50 per cent of grants in the most recent round of the B.C. government's arts infrastructure funding was dedicated to organizations in rural or remote communities or those "led by or rooted in Indigenous and equity-deserving communities," according to an official news release.