With a new year and a new village council comes new opportunities, so hopes Burns Lake resident and artist Hilda Earl.
The local woman, along with fellow artist Clare Singleton are the main movers behind a project to open an art gallery in the Anglican Church on First Avenue.
The gallery isn’t a new idea but the artistic pair are hoping to make the bid a reality by next fall.
Earl presented her proposal to the village council on Dec. 11, pointing out that there’s a big gap along Highway 16 because Prince Rupert, Smithers and Prince George have professionally-curated art galleries, but not Burns Lake.
An art gallery would attract new visitors, promote youth creativity and serve as a sponsor for local events, Earl explained.
As for the location, “the church is very visible and it’s near local amenities,” she said.
Speaking to Lakes District News, Earl said that near the end of the previous council’s term it “unanimously passed a resolution to set aside $50,000 in seed money to use for renovating the former Church for the purpose of converting it to an Art Gallery.”
Renovations have not started, but Earl said the funding gives the project leverage in attracting other funding, “it shows a tangible commitment that many other funding agencies require before they support a project.”
Prior to any renovations the building needs to be assessed, and earlier this year Burns Lake fire chief Rob Krause gave Earl and Singleton a tour of the church to explain some issues that would need to be resolved.
Many parts of the church need work, such as the installation of plumbing and smoke alarms and the improvement of the sidewalk, stairs and handrail leading up to the building, Earl said.
Several of its stained glass windows need restoration, including a special ‘rosette’ window, which itself would cost $3,000 to restore.
In the meantime, Earl wants to include more people as active movers of the project and write up a business plan.
The council said in its Dec. 11 meeting that it would hold a committee gathering early in 2019 to assess the church building’s suitability for an art gallery.
“Once the condition of the building is known, it will be up to the Village to decide how to proceed with the project,” Earl said.