Local artist Jim Dodd’s rendering of what a potential $30-million arts facility, including a performance hall, rehearsal space, green rooms, gift shop and art gallery could look like on the West Shore. (Jim Dodd photo)

City of Colwood supportive of West Shore arts centre

Exploring arts development part of Colwood’s draft strategic plan

Colwood’s council supports the creation of an arts centre to help turn the city into a “renaissance community,” Mayor Rob Martin said.

“Council is saying we understand that our community continues to grow and not only has recreational needs but arts needs,” Martin said. “We think this would be a very good fit … council is very supportive of a new arts centre.”

Colwood tentatively earmarked a $2,000 grant to the Juan de Fuca Arts Centre Society — the group lobbying for an arts centre on the West Shore.

The Juan de Fuca Arts Centre Society has been working on plans to build an arts facility on the West Shore over the past few years. The centre would have a performance hall, rehearsal space, gallery and educational spaces so both professional and amateur community members could make use of it.

The society’s president, Judith Cullington, said that while the centre may not make a lot of profit, the society is dedicated to making the facility largely self-supporting, rather than relying on municipal tax dollars.

Cullington said in order to do so, finding key partners and fundraising for the centre are necessary.

“Our main goals are fundraising and making sure it’s a realistic business model that can be largely self-supporting,” Cullington said.

Martin said council will hopefully be able to support the society in non-financial ways.

“I think there’s a role for advocacy,” Martin said. “We’re not just saying we’re supportive of it but also messaging out to the general population and specific funders that this is what we need in the West Shore.”

Martin said he’s more than happy to write letters and talk to funders on behalf of the City of Colwood.

The City released a draft strategic plan earlier in January that highlighted a focus on developing jobs, culture and entertainment in Colwood.

One of the City’s goals in the draft plan is listed as “creating special places” and one of the priorities under that goal is exploring the potential for an arts theatre or centre in Colwood.

“Long ago we used to talk about creating sort of a renaissance community,” Martin said. “What that means is you’re well-rounded so that you have your recreation, your libraries, your social services. Arts is an essential part of that.”

The next step for the Juan de Fuca Arts Centre Society is to find a two-acre site where the facility can be built. Martin said council could potentially help the society find that site.

“I think this council has recognized that as we continue to build the community, [the renaissance community] has to be essential to our long term viability, success and happiness of our residents,” Martin said.

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