The Sunshine Coast Arts Council (SCAC) is proud to proclaim 2004 the silver anniversary year of the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre in Sechelt. It was 25 years ago, in August 1979, that the Arts Centre doors officially opened on what was then one of only three dedicated arts centres in the province. Since then, the building, located next door to the Seniors Centre on Trail and Medusa, has become a cherished landmark in the village of Sechelt.
It was built to replace the Arts Council's previous gallery in Whittaker House on the present-day site of Pacifica Pharmacy. The village of Sechelt leased the council three lots opposite Hackett Park for the purpose. With energy and enthusiasm, the pioneer members of the Arts Council attacked the project, clearing out debris, digging out an abandoned Volkswagen and levelling the site for the gallery and its showcase garden.
The design for the gallery, created by Clarke Steabner, incorporated some of the geodesic principles of Buckminster Fuller and was built as a learning project in non-traditional log construction - a very 70s idea that helped secure a provincial grant to assist with construction costs. Logs from Steabner's own property were cut, peeled and trimmed by volunteers, while others cut shakes for the roof from cedar on the Crowston property.
That original structure, with its octagonal log galleries, was later expanded to include music and art studios. It has been recently renovated and modernized to include a well-equipped kitchen, exhibition space for children's art and updated offices, thanks to the combined efforts of the SCAC and another small army of member volunteers. The renovation received financial support from members of the board of directors in 2001, individual Sunshine Coast residents who valued the contribution of the centre to community life, local businesses and service clubs, local and provincial governments and charitable foundations.
Today, the Arts Centre is a vital resource for the artistic and cultural life of the community. In addition to the gallery's 15 or more exhibits a year, the centre serves as a venue for performances, meetings, recitals, seminars, life-drawing classes and authors' readings.
The gallery provides exceptional opportunities for younger artists in special exhibits of the Young Artists Awards, the Young People's Own Shows for elementary and high school students and the Cowrie Street Banner Project. It is available for rental to community groups for a modest price.
To celebrate, the SCAC has plans for many silvery events and activities - the first of which is the Silver FOG, the opening reception for the 2004 Friends of the Gallery (FOG) show which opens Jan. 14.