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A bastion for the arts in Snug Cove
Wednesday morning saw a bustle of activity in the cottage behind the library. Members of the Bowen Island Arts Council (BIAC) rolled up their sleeves to prepare the venue for its new dual role as an arts and information centre. Carol Cram, president of the arts council, took a few minutes to explain the plans. “The arts council has taken over the operation of the visitor centre,” she said. “We are going to offer tourist information and people can come and get their maps and brochures here but we’re also adding an art gallery and a gift shop.”
Cram is directing a crew of half a dozen volunteers engaged in moving furniture and cleaning. “It is going to be really cool,” she says. “The idea is to give visitors to Bowen an arts experience the minute they step off the ferry. So we are creating a bit of a bastion for the arts in the cove.”
Cram points to the small room to the right of the entry and explains that it is going to be the info-centre part of the building. “We are going to contact all the merchants, B&Bs and businesses to invite them to drop off their material,” she says. “We are mandated by BC Tourism to operate the tourist information but the arts centre is a BIAC initiative.”
The main area of the cottage will have a computer screen that will feature a slide show of Bowen attractions. And, on the right, there will be a gift shop. “It will have gift items that are arts related and come from artisans all over the island,” Cram says. She hopes that the gift shop will generate revenue for the art council. The two small rooms in the back of the building will be reserved for gallery space. “We’ll show work by local artists,” Cram says. “Another goal is to encourage people to visit Bowen Island attractions and go up to Artisan Square where we want to support the local galleries.”
The operation of the information centre is funded by the municipality and Cram says that there are two funding levels that depend on whether BIAC will receive a grant for employing a summer student. “But even if the grant doesn’t come through, the info centre will be staffed eight hours a day, seven days a week from the Victoria Day weekend to Labour Day,” says Cram, adding that she would love to extend the opening hours year-round for weekends.
“This is a great opportunity to promote cultural tourism on Bowen,” she says.
The plans for renewal are not confined to the inside of the building. Cram says that the cottage will get a new coat of paint and that Stacey Beamer has offered to bring sculptures. She opens the door to the back and says, “Another idea is to improve the flow. People could come in from the front, get their brochures, wander through the gallery and come out here where we could have a sculpture garden.” The municipality has already committed to do the gardening, according to Cram.
Community partners play an important role in the project and Cram mentions the Bowen Island Chamber of Commerce that used to be in charge of operating the info centre until last summer. “The Chamber is a huge partner. They have committed to helping us if there should be a funding shortfall,” Cram says. “Rod Marsh, the president of the Chamber, has power-washed the building free of charge.”
Other partners include the Arts Pacific Gallery that will help out with supplying volunteers. “Although the centre is staffed, we are also planning to draw on volunteers,” Cram said. “It gets busy and we are hoping to have at least two people here: a staff person and a volunteer who helps with the gift shop.”
Cram plans a big opening celebration and promises to issue an invitation to the community closer to the time of the party.