What a journey!
It all began in January of 2016 when the Coastal Community Credit Union (CCCU) in Chemainus approached Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society (CVCAS) to ask if they would like to use some empty space in their building to start an art gallery. CCCU is motivated to promote arts in our community as well as foster economic development by encouraging businesses to fill in the empty spaces in downtown Chemainus.
CVCAS has, coincidentally, been working on better promoting the visual arts sector of their membership. Three years ago, they had started the Polka Dot Trail annual studio tour and have since hosted two short term Christmas Pop Up Galleries. But the artists needed and wanted more.
So it became my task, as Chairperson of CVCAS, to put together a dynamic volunteer team who could pull off operating a full time retail art store and gallery. Fortunately the first two people I approached were enthusiastic and, within a month, we found three more exceptionally qualified volunteers to round out our team. Amongst us 5, have experience as owners and managers of art galleries and retail outlets, while others added their skills in bookkeeping and marketing expertise. Most of us were well connected with the local artists, as 5 of the 6 of us are artists situated in the Chemainus area.
With the support of CCCU, and the experience of our committee members, CVCAS was on board to open a new gallery and shop in downtown Chemainus. And we got lots of support from the artists too. To our amazement, over 40 local artists responded to our initial Request for Artists, so we knew there was a niche to fill.
After months of discussions, planning, overcoming obstacles and bonding as a cohesive group, we set our sights on a July 1st 2016 opening – just in time for the busy tourist season on Vancouver Island.
It’s been quite a journey, but we are up to the challenge! Soon we will start painting, decorating and promoting this exciting new Chemainus Arts Venue. Be sure to watch our progress over the coming months!