Burns Lake council is considering the idea of turning a local heritage building into an art gallery.
“As the Village of Burns Lake, we own a property, a church on First Avenue which is not being used,” said Mayor Chris Beach during a recent council meeting. “It’s a beautiful heritage building close to downtown.”
The Anglican Church originally opened in 1929 and received its heritage designation in 2005.
Mayor Beach asked council if they would be interested in offering the building to any group in town willing to start a society to establish an art gallery.
“We do have the Lakes Artisan Centre and Process 4 [circle arts Gallery] with a lot of art in there, but our community has matured, and this is something that we really need, and there are so many gifted artists in our community,” added Beach. “We have such a vibrant arts culture that it could contribute to our tourism economy and attracting people.”
The idea of establishing a local art gallery was first proposed by Endako artist Clare Singleton, who said this would allow for “education and a sense of morality, and an increase in professionals in the field of art.”
Councillor Susan Schienbein said she would also be interested in exploring the idea of an art gallery. However, she said she doesn’t believe it’s council’s mandate to be the driving force behind it.
“I think this is the type of initiative that would come out in our economic diversification process,” she said, referring to an ongoing Village of Burns Lake project to diversify the local economy.
“I see council’s role as a partner in that, but I don’t see us as the lead,” she added. “We need a core group of people that are absolutely dedicated and passionate about that to make it happen.”
Councillor Michael Riis-Christianson agreed, using the Burns Lake Mountain Biking Association (BLMBA) as an example.
“As you see, BLMBA has been incredibly successful because they are people that are passionate and want to make that [their plans] a reality,” he said. “The only way that an initiative like that [art gallery] would be successful is if people are willing to invest in it.”
Mayor Beach said it doesn’t really matter whether the art gallery plan is suggested by council or the committee responsible for diversifying the local economy.
Council then decided to suggest this idea to the economy diversification committee.