The Cowichan Foundation will have to look elsewhere for $40,000 towards a bronze statue of nationally renowned artist E.J. Hughes.
The City of Duncan turned downed a grant application for that amount from the foundation for the statue at its meeting on Nov. 18. The foundation is a non-profit charity that supports a number of local causes.
The statue project was first proposed almost a decade ago, and the Cowichan Foundation has managed to raise approximately $63,500 towards the $103,500 project through fundraisers, grants and an initial $10,000 that the City of Duncan had already committed to the project.
Duncan councillor Tom Duncan said the city simply doesn’t have the money before the unanimous vote last week.
“I understand that the Cowichan Foundation has already come up with a lot of money [for the project],” he said.
“That’s a good job by the foundation, but we can’t come up with $40,000. They will have to continue their fundraising.”
Lance Steward, vice-president of the Cowichan Foundation, said while he’s disappointed the city turned down the grant request, the foundation appreciates the $10,000 the local government has committed to the project so far.
“We’ll be meeting soon to look at some other options to raise the money,” he said.
“We’ll continue our efforts and will work hard to somehow get Hughes’s name and legacy big and prevalent in the Valley.”
Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples said the city had more than $100,000 worth of grant applications this year and, other than $22,000 it has allocated for the Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre, it had just over $20,000 to put towards the rest of the requests.
“We have to reassess every year what is realistic for council to do in regards to grant applications,” she said.
“We have to look at what our priorities are for the funding we have and not everyone will get a grant. There’s no secret chest of money that we can draw from and it’s a fact that our decisions in regards to grant requests falls back on our taxpayers.”
Staples said the city still supports the statue project and is looking forward to it when it is completed.
“But we only have so much money,” she said.
Hughes, a member of both the Order of Canada and the Order of B.C., was known for his depictions of the majestic, yet quiet, beauty of Vancouver Island landscapes and communities through his paintings and prints.
As a citizen of Duncan, Hughes, who died in 2007, frequented and supported many Duncan businesses and community groups and was considered a local treasure by many.
“As such, a commemorative statue of this historically prominent and talented local artist will serve as inspiration and motivation for our local artists of any age to pursue their craft and reflect the love of their local natural wonders and communities as he did,” the Cowichan Foundation said in a submission to council in support of its grant request.
“It is also our vision that any new visitors drawn here by their desire to see this local work of art will also gain an awareness of our local art galleries, theatres and indigenous art displayed around the city.”
The foundation is proposing that the statue be a commissioned artwork of Vancouver Island bronze sculptor Nathan Scott, and it will capture a moment in the life of Hughes at work on his stool.
The CF is also looking to install the statue in prominence on municipal land, like Charles Hoey Park, when it is completed.
“Hughes is a part of the history of Duncan and Vancouver Island,” the CF’s submission to the city said.
“The fact that people still remember and talk about our reclusive, humble, artistic genius neighbour with love and respect only adds to how valuable his presence and his art has been and continues to be in our communities.”