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Plans for new $35-million Duncan art gallery moving forward

Organizers look to all levels of government for financial support
The Green Door heritage building on Ingram Street is expected to be an integral part of the new state-of-the-art art gallery that is being proposed for the area. (Submitted by the Cowichan Public Art Gallery)

The Cowichan Public Art Gallery Society’s plans for a new world-class art gallery, studio and educational centre in the Cowichan Valley are moving forward.

In a presentation to the board at the Cowichan Valley Regional District on May 25, society president Jock Hildebrand said the CPAGS has taken over the Green Door heritage building on Ingram Street, where Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor currently has his constituency office, with plans for it to become an integral part of the new, approximately $35-million art gallery.


He said the Green Door, which has come into the possession of the CPAGS after a number of societies amalgamated in recent years, is currently a rental property for several groups and organizations, but it has long been intended that the building would be part of a large art gallery at some point.

Hildebrand said that in March, the City of Duncan voted to negotiate a purchase option for its adjacent empty lot at 135 Kenneth St. with the non-profit society for the future acquisition of the property so that it could be used for a section of the new 30,000 sq. ft. gallery.

“We’re slowly getting everything together in terms of where the footprint will be for the art gallery,” he told the board.

“We’re receiving strong support for the project from the community and local leaders. Alistair MacGregor has delivered a letter to the Minister of Canadian Heritage informing him of our project and where we need to go, and the fact that we will need a considerable amount of financial help [from the federal government]. We also talked to Brian Jonker at the BC Arts Council and he has promised support for us and we’re grateful for that.”


The society’s concepts for the new Cowichan Public Art Gallery, which is planned to be the largest art gallery on Vancouver Island, are substantial and far reaching.

The gallery is expected to become a major cultural institution on Vancouver Island due to its unique programming, custom-designed buildings, and its strategic placement in the Duncan downtown area.

Hildebrand told the board that the society is anticipating that funding for the art gallery is expected to be from the federal government, the province, and local fundraising by the society, with each expected to contribute approximately one-third of the costs of the project.

Cobble Hill director Mike Wilson asked which local governments the society has approached for funding.

Hildebrand said the society has determined that the CVRD should be the local government that would help with some of the funding.

“But we’re not at a place yet to make that particular ask,” he said.

“We need to prove ourselves and we hope to open up in the Green Door building to give ourselves our own venue as we’ve been renting venues. We’re waiting until the appropriate time for that ask and we’re starting with the feds and that’s our process at this point.”

Wilson asked if Hildebrand could give the board a rough estimate of how much the society would need from the CVRD for the gallery, but Hildebrand responded that it’s still too early in the process to give any figures.

“We’re hoping for provincial figures to come in and then we’ll take a look at what we would ask from the CVRD, but I don’t believe we’ll need a large amount of money from the CVRD at this point,” he said.

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Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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