Group lobbies for public art space

A group of business owners wants to create an outdoor public space for artists to display their work

A group of business owners wants to create an outdoor public space for artists to display their work.

The concept, a ‘Rue des Artistes’, would entail dedicating an area for artists to set up temporary studios under shelter and sell their work.

“This is an essential element in almost every city, and involves little expense,” wrote Ruth McMonagle, art agent and co-owner of Still Water Books and Art, in a letter to city council and signed by four other business owners.

“It could possibly involve the purchase of tents or umbrellas, electrical connections, and lights. It also would mean a small, part-time seasonal contract for a manager to be responsible for the organization and control of the site.”

The group is suggesting the area between Spirit Square and the Art Gallery or the courtyard between the Tidemark Theatre and the Library as possible locations.

At last week’s Monday council meeting, councillors briefly discussed the proposal.

“In light that the public art committee has begun, this may be an appropriate place to refer this to,” Mayor Andy Adams said.

Coun. Larry Samson put forward a motion to refer the initiative to the city’s public art committee, as well as the city’s Community Services, Recreation and Culture Commission for its input.

McMonagle said a place to view local art would tie in with council’s priority to create a vibrant downtown that promotes local culture.

“As part of the downtown revitalization, this simple addition would support our vibrant and growing artistic community, and generate an atmosphere of vitality,” McMonagle wrote.

“It would increase the volume of ‘walk by’ traffic so essential to the economic growth of the merchants in the downtown area.”

She said it would also complement the city’s River City Arts Festival, as well as the work of the Campbell River Art Gallery by drawing more artists to the facility.

McMonagle said the idea for such a space came from a demand from visitors to the city looking for art beyond the walls of the Art Gallery.

“A frequently expressed wish from visitors to our community is for a place to view local art,” McMonagle said.

“Heather Hughson, of the Campbell River Community Arts Council, notes that most visitors to the Sybil Andrews Cottage ask where they can go to see local art displayed. She commented that it is a source of frustration that there is no specific location to suggest.”

McMonagle and the downtown business owners are asking for “immediate funding in the upcoming budget” from council, which begins its budget planning for 2016 in early December.