ARTSpace deserves funding

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Sir: ARTSpace is a portal to arts and culture in Chatham-Kent.

Enduring utilities replacement, sidewalk and road re-construction, and with half the storefronts vacant, this little island of activity has given other businesses the courage to re-locate next to us … downtown.

Twice a year, a themed family Art Crawl takes place in the evening, with an opening reception at 6 p.m. in ARTSpace. This is followed by a procession down King Street led by an ARTSpace volunteer.

Stops have included Eve Chocolatier, Retro Suites, William St. Café, Left Wing Tattoo Gallery, Thames Art Gallery, and ending in Studio One. Refreshments and music are provided by participating venues. We have averaged more than 125 people per event, no matter how nasty the weather.

Artist development, resume building, portfolio reviews, studio visits and critiques can be arranged. These functions assist artists, new or established, to reach their potential.

We presently have five artists who remain in Chatham-Kent but are represented by larger galleries out of town.

As a volunteer, I have worked with co-op students as they have gained experience learning about the necessary steps to run ARTSpace. Keeping inventory sheets up to date, stocking shelves, making sales, assisting at openings, and meeting with the artists are a few of the daily duties at ARTSpace. They are given an overview of what it takes to run a gallery or small business.

Pages 74-80 in the Chatham-Kent Cultural Plan Implementation Document Project 2014 gives an overview of ARTSpace activities to demonstrate our importance to Chatham-Kent.

Partnerships with BIA, Tastefest, Harvestfest, Retrofest, CK on the Edge, Children’s Treatment Centre, CK Mental Health, Chatham Photography Club (75th Anniversary Celebration), Buxton Museum (Quilt and Doll Show), CK Pride, Chatham Public Library, and Breaking Barriers are just some of the organizations for which ARTSpace provided display space, meeting room, artist teachers, products, classes and participatory support at no cost.

Community Arts Initiatives International open calls, ie. ARTSpace Original Print Exchange, received 80 submissions from eight countries, many .U.S states and provinces across Canada, plus our local entrants. This success story has become a bi-annual event. The third Print Exchange is in the prep stage now.

Open calls, exhibiting member openings, fundraisers, art camps, crit nights, DIY (Do It Yourself) Fridays – all these initiatives are drawing international, national and local participation on $1,000 per year advertising budget. I call this bang for your buck.

Keep ARTSpace alive. The benefits to Chatham-Kent far outweigh its cost.

Sharlene Day

Chatham

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