A new purpose-built public art gallery is in the works in the Cowichan Valley and those involved say it will inject not just additional culture but tourism dollars into the region. But they’re not waiting for the full new space to be built; in the interim they will be opening a smaller physical gallery for shows.
The Green Door Society and the Cowichan Public Art Gallery Society have joined forces to help further the goal, with the Green Door building to serve as part the group’s first physical gallery though there is no definite timeline yet on when it will open.
“Public galleries showcase rather than sell art, bringing exhibitions from around the world to our neighbourhoods. Imagine seeing original art by great masters without having to travel great distances to see it,” said a news release. “The Cowichan Valley is already an artistic hub, and its growing population wants more cultural as well as material services. Plus, adding to its attractiveness to tourists means that restaurants, hotels, B&Bs and shops will benefit from art tourism.”
Renderings of what a new gallery could look like show a massive project which would offer a state-of-the-art facility built in and around the Green Door building.
“This project is based on a vision to bring our local community together through art, foremost by bringing world-class exhibits here, but also by showcasing great art from around the province and by offering educational programs for all ages. It requires a world class art gallery to host exhibits and programs of that quality, which is what we plan to fund and then build,” said the website.
Cowichan Public Art Gallery president Jock Hildebrand said “it’s a big project.”
“It will not only transform how [Duncan] looks, it’ll also transform its economics, too,” he said. “It’s a big deal for sure.”
Their modeling, Hildebrand noted, shows that once complete, the structure will employ 18 people with a payroll of over $1 million a year.
The entirety of the new construction will be art gallery with the exception of some of the offices, a general purpose room, and rental space.
There is still much work to do, including to acquire the land required for the expansion from the City of Duncan.
We hope to be “purchasing some land which is directly behind the Green Door,” Hildebrand explained. “We’re very much hopeful that they’ll agree to sell or lease or something so that we can do expansion on that side.”
He added that his group has received letters of support from both Duncan and North Cowichan, as well as the regional district.
But, before any shovels hit the dirt, they need the money to pay for it.
“We reckon we’re three years out,” Hildebrand said. “We’re just starting our capital fundraising. Plans are in place and we’ll be starting shortly.”
Hildebrand said the new facility will address the lack of high-end and/or art from the masters.
While the Cowichan Valley Arts Council caters to mostly local artists, 85 per cent of the Cowichan Public Art Gallery exhibitions will be from out of town with 15 per cent dedicated to local artists.
“It’s a very substantial difference,” he said of the two groups.