School district helps Metchosin net art space

 With gallery space at a premium these days, the problem is about to be solved in Metchosin.

Metchosin will soon be home to a new permanent arts gallery within the Metchosin Arts and Cultural Centre. Sooke School District 62’s Gus Gustafson (back)

 With gallery space at a premium these days, the problem is about to be solved in Metchosin.

The doors to a new permanent art gallery in the Metchosin Arts and Cultural Centre on Happy Valley Road will soon be swung open to artists and those willing to explore their creative side.

Though still without a name and an official launch date, the gallery will move forward now that $15,000 in funding from the Ministry of Education has been secured.

Still, only half of what was hoped for was awarded, and organizers — including the District of Metchosin, the Metchosin Arts and Cultural Centre and Sooke School District — now have to rethink their design of the space before renovations begin. Metchosin was a co-applicant on the funding application along with Sooke School District 62.

“We’ll have to decide just how far we can go,” said Metchosin Coun. Jo Mitchell, who serves as council liaison with the arts centre.

The gallery, which Mitchell says will be opened as soon as possible, will provide much-needed space where artists can hold shows, concerts and demonstrations, as well as offer classes for adults and children.

“Gallery space is at a premium now in the entire southern Island,” Mitchell said, especially with closures of galleries in Victoria. “This is a big plus for Metchosin.”

Stakeholders plan to meet in early February to map out their vision of the space.

The112 square metre room once served as a temporary school library for Happy Valley elementary students who lost their school to fire in 2004. Since then the room has been used now and then by artists, and by Elections Canada, which only recently agreed to relocate elsewhere.

Renovation work done by school district staff will likely include new lighting, flooring, a fresh coat of paint, a new exterior door and free-standing walls for art displays, said SD 62 superintendent Jim Cambridge.

The 60 to 90 high school students in the adjoining Metchosin Technical Centre could also utilize the gallery space, and potentially benefit from arts classes.

“That would be a by-product once it gets going,” Cambridge noted. “They’ll have an opportunity to bring in the kids. It’s a matter of just bringing the kids down the hall.”

The project serves as a vital partnership between the school district, its schools and the community.

“This is one way to bring the community into our schools,” Cambridge said. “By sharing our schools, we’re sharing the operating costs of the buildings.”

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