Aurora Visual Arts is looking for a Home

Brenda Claude, with the Aurora Visual Arts Association, spoke to Bonnyville Town Council, at the Regular Council meeting, on Tuesday, regarding the status of the association. Claude explains that the group does not have a permanent home and it is causing issues for the growth and development of arts in the community.

“We have been a non-profit group for almost five years and we need a home,” Claude explains the association has been meeting in various locations and semi-permanent spaces. However, at the end of the day, they have to pack up all their supplies and take them home with. This has caused some problems with supplies going missing or not always being available to the artists. Additionally, the association would like to hold more workshops to develop their talents and the talents of artists in the community. Having a permanent space would also allow for a sense of identity and the growth of the association.

The association benefits the community in many ways, including as an economic simulator by drawing people to town. Claude explains, “two years ago we hosted the Alberta Community Art Clubs Association Zones Show.” The show brought in artists from all over Alberta and many visitors to the community.  “We are a non-profit group that has managed to do shows, have workshops and we’ve been able to do our fundraising for what we’ve done so far,” Claude saying now the association is in need of help to find a permanent home.

The Aurora Visual Arts Association was hopeful they could find a permanent home at the Bonnyville & District Centennial Centre (C2). Claude noted, “there are a lot of empty classrooms.” The association believes a classroom at the C2 would be the perfect location and size for Aurora to set up a permanent home. She also purposed that should the Town be able to accommodate their request they would agree to produce art for public spaces, throughout the town.”We would change the art every three months-ish and it would promote local artists.” Further, she proposed that if the Town would cover the rent portion, the association would approach the Municipal District (M.D.) of Bonnyville, to help fund the utilities or split the rent.

Mayor of Bonnyville, Gene Sobolewski, who also sits on the board for the C2 says that although it may appear to be empty space at the C2, there are plans underway to better utilize the space. During a board strategic planning session, Sobolewski says there was atopic that kept coming back to the board, “one of the things that became very evident was the need for an Arts & Culture multi-use [facility at the C2] and what would that look like.” As the mayor explains, with the enviable demolition of the Lyle Victor Albert Centre the community is searching for that next space. “The issue for everybody is that we want to put a survey out to see what the rest of the pubic is looking for?” Sobolewski says there has been talk about what the space at the C2 will become, “with a direction of bringing more people into the facility.”

Another aspect Claude touched on was the lack of an  Arts & Culture policy for the Town of Bonnyville, stating, “in other municipalities there are policies that whenever there’s a new development one percent of the cost is allocated to public arts.” In communities Claude had research this money was used to further the growth of art and to beautify the community, “making art for public spaces.” Councillor Elisa Brosseau noted that she would like to explore an Arts & Culture policy and if something similar could be implemented for the Town of Bonnyville.

“I feel, the Town of Bonnyville, doesn’t look beyond recreation and oil. Maybe I’m an unusual tourist, but I want to go see a gallery or homemade items. I’m sure it would draw in people and give Bonnyville a broader focus,” Claude notes the association has amazing artists within their group that would surely draw in visitors to the community.

Mayor Sobolewski thanked Claude for the presentation and directed her to speak with a staff member, Sue Phillips, at the Centennial Centre who has been tasked with discovering the communities wishes for the C2. He mentioned there will be a survey going out to the community in the near future and that a very important element to the future of the C2 will be the community’s feedback on what they desire for the centre.