Town, committee discuss support for new visual arts centre in Moosomin

Moosomin Town Council

May 18, 2023, 2:54 pm
Kara Kinna

Jacqui Beckett, Terry Grant and Krista Crellin  have plans for a building in town to facilitate art workshops and provide a space for people to practice different forms of art.

Moosomin Town Council met with a delegation from the newly formed Moosomin Visual Arts Centre (MVAC) committee on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of starting a visual arts centre in Moosomin.

Krista Crellin, Terry Grant and Jacqui Beckett all sat down with council at their regular meeting to ask the town if they would be favorable toward the project. They said the first step would be finding a suitable building, but once that happens, they wondered if the town would consider adding it as a town facility.

“We’ve been working on an arts centre in town here. We just think that having a place where people can go and learn art and practice at their own pace is something needed in this town and we’ve been hearing that from a lot of people,” said Crellin.

“The visual arts, like creating things with different mediums, is what we would do, and focus on everyone being welcome, all cultures, all ages, all skill levels, all abilities—it doesn’t matter who you are or what group you belong to, everyone is welcome,” said Beckett.

“We think it will help solve some problems, like some more activities for an aging population in the community, it makes the community a more diverse, progressive and an attractive place to live, and there are a lot of mental health benefits to art as well. We are hoping even to offer something like art therapy once a week,” added Crellin.

The group told council that they have formed a board of 13 people, and there is a waiting list of people who would like to be on the board.

They said before they can move forward with any of their plans, they must first find a building suitable for the arts centre.

“We have been meeting at the theatre. Up until now we haven’t put anything into play. We’re working on a home. Once we have a home, then we will settle into planning some lessons,” said Grant.

“What can you see the town helping you with to start this?” asked Mayor Larry Tomlinson.

“We’d ultimately like to see this be a town facility,” said Crellin. “We know that you have a lot of sports facilities. It would be nice to have something for the arts under the town’s banner. We will need an employee for sure, so something like helping with that and summer students for things like arts camps would be really good, and help with grants too. I know (rec director) Mike (Schwean) does an awesome job with grants, and that would really help.”

The group said there are lots of grants available for the arts, and councillor Murray Gray said the town’s EDO, Casey McCormac has been looking into some of the grants that are available.

“I can speak to this a little bit, because this all started with a letter from Krista when Casey was reaching out to businesses in town about different things we might be missing in town from an economic standpoint,” said Gray.

“Krista wrote the letter, we invited her in and had a good discussion about it and there is a huge spinoff economically from this because people travel a long way to go to arts centres in our area. For example Jacqui goes to Birtle and to Estevan. There is a whole population of people leaving Moosomin for the visual arts that we talked about. In two months, it’s amazing how much this has come together, and the support at the chamber meeting and the 13 people on the board. This is something that we have been definitely missing from a community standpoint that’s important to people.”

Letters of support
Crellin said the MVAC board had reached out to the community for letters of support for the arts centre, and she read a few of those letters out loud to council at the meeting.

“I am writing to you as an advocate for the fine arts community of Moosomin. I have been an Arts Educator for 25 years in this community,” reads a letter from McNaughton High School Principal Sherrie Meredith.

“I believe an Arts Centre in Moosomin would be a welcome and much needed addition to our town. Young and old can benefit from having such a centre to provide opportunities in visual art, graphic design, and digital multi-media. This creative space would offer a creative outlet for many to develop their talents. I see the opportunity for community programs to enhance skills learned in school and a place where individuals feel a sense of belonging.

“We have many athletic opportunities in Moosomin, but not as many options for artistic endeavours as many of the artistic opportunities offered are seasonal. Having a variety of activities is very important, especially in this era where screen-time is on the rise. An Arts Centre would provide a public service and have great social impact. Sharing creative talents with others is a wonderful way to connect people and create a sense of community. We have many talented visual artists willing to share their craft with others; it is a huge undertaking, but one worth pursuing.

“Moosomin has many amazing programs and facilities that make us stand out in the province; an Arts Centre would add to that impressive repertoire, making Moosomin a wonderful place to live. Showcasing artistic talent is one more way to make our community great! Thank you to Terry, Jacqui, and Krista for their vision.”

“I am writing this letter as a letter of support for the Moosomin Visual Arts Centre,” wrote Devona Putland, Chairperson with Age Friendly Moosomin. “Moosomin is a town known for its progressive development. Recently Premier Scott Moe alluded to Moosomin’s progressive development in his speech at the SUMA Conference. While Premier Moe was noticing economic growth opportunities and the town’s excellent health care providers, Moosomin has more areas still to be developed. The Moosomin Visual Arts group recognizes one of those needs. This group sees the benefits to a community of offering options for recreation and creativity that go beyond clubs and groups that already exist in the community.

“Often when economic times become challenging, society sees less of a need for the arts than for other activities. However, it is the arts that expand development of the human brain, much in the way athletics develop the human body. For Moosomin to achieve an inclusive model of services in the town, attention should be given to the arts community and programming, similar to the way athletics are supported. With that thinking, Age Friendly Moosomin supports the idea of an arts centre. The arts centre would be open to clientele of all ages and abilities, making its existence in line with the goals of an Age Friendly community, and would offer another mode of creativity to its residents. It is the hope of Age Friendly Moosomin that the town of Moosomin finds ways to support the Visual Arts Centre.”

“On behalf of the Ukrainian community of Moosomin, I’d like to present a few of our arguments for creating the Visual Art Centre in our town,” wrote Ukrainian Moosomin resident Olha Volokh.

“Engaging with art is essential to the human experience, improving physical and psychological well-being. The benefits of art classes for adults are numerous, including helping to unlock our creativity and improve our mental health. Learning new skills is always a good idea. In an art class, you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone and forcing your brain to think creatively. Art helps reduce stress, improve memory, and develop a sense of being connected to the community.

“As for the kids and young adults, offering students the opportunity to create art allows them to access their need to express themselves. As I can tell from my own experience, children in Ukraine have their art classes at school starting from the first grade. It can be drawing, embroidery, knitting, making plush toys, beading, quilling etc. Art classes are as important as physical activity. They encourage self-expression and creativity and can build confidence as well as a sense of individual identity.

“And I can definitely see the positive impact on my daughter as well. She used to attend drawing classes as well as beading and sewing classes. Now she is constantly creating something during her after school hours the at World-Spectator office: Christmas decorations, holiday cards, paper games, presents, Easter baskets, buttons with her own drawings as well as working on her own personal projects on stop motion Lego movies.

“It’s never too late to step into the world of creativity! Let’s give Moosomin a chance to unite our community even more with the help of art.”

“I think that this is a fabulous idea! Our community offers so many athletic opportunities but there is very little for those children that enjoy the arts. This truly is a need in our wonderful community and we would support such an addition,” wrote Tammy Cole, principal of MacLeod School.

“The possibilities are limitless on all the benefits that would come from having an Arts Centre. I think when we look at how it would benefit our youth and their mental health by having a place that lets them explore their creative side and talents, that it would truly serve our community well.”

“The expression of art in every form is extremely important to all Indigenous cultures. It’s one of the main ways we tell our stories,” wrote Ed Blondeau of the local Métis Community.

“The Métis Nation of Saskatchewan Local 44 of Moosomin wholeheartedly endorses the proposed visual art center in town.

“We often have the opportunity to access grants and programs targeted for art and cultural projects, and would love to have a dedicated space to implement these.”

Looking for a home
Mayor Larry Tomlinson asked the group if there was any present building in town that would work well for an arts centre.

“The armoury we have thought about, it would be lovely, it’s an awesome location, and for after school programs it would be perfect. It’s the right size. It has a kitchen in it too so we can offer culinary arts as well. It would be ideal,” said Crellin.

“And we are in talks with them now,” added Grant.

“I have met with them, and they are considering it,” said councillor Murray Gray. “That group is running to the end of their time with the volunteering and the things that they are doing. Their concern is the preservation of the building going forward.

“Which we do want to do,” said Beckett.

CAO Paul Listrom asked how many square feet the group would be looking for. The group said the square footage of a hall around the size of the armoury would be ideal.

“If it was the armoury, the bar space and back storage space would be a pottery studio. You walk into the hall as it is now and the stage area would be digital arts, computers and other technology,” said Terry Grant, going over the layout the group would like for a facility.

“Then you’d have maybe a horseshoe configuration of tables in front and that would be for a class. Down the centre of the building going toward the daycare would be a moveable wall structure as a gallery space, where things could be hung. Close to the kitchen would have another horseshoe education space so you could have two classes going at one time.”

“So you think the size of the armoury would work?” asked Listrom.

“It would be perfect,” said Grant.

“Any smaller and I think it would be tough,” added Beckett.

The group added that they are keeping their eye on other potential buildings in town as a Plan B if the armoury is not an option.

Costs and economic spinoff
Councillor Kyla Fingas asked the group what their projected startup costs are and what kind of timeline the group was looking at.

“It depends on if we get a building or not, it’s all really hinging on that,” said Crellin. “We think it will be at least $100,000 to get all the equipment that we need, we are working on a list right now, and we’d like an employee as well.”

The group estimated that annual operating costs for a building the size of the armoury would be around $20,000.

“Krista has done what economic development asked her to do,” said councillor Murray Gray. “We said let’s see if the community gets behind this. An idea is just an idea until there are people behind it who can drive the bus. And I think you’ve done a fantastic job of that, you’ve got some good leaders with you, I’m happy that we are in this stage.”

Council asked what the group would like the town to do moving forward.

“We’d just mostly like you to think about adding us as a facility to the town, and let us know what you decide and what you need for us to do moving forward,” said Crellin. “We’d also like to start applying for grants as soon as possible, so we’d need to know how to do that with the town’s resources.”

Councillor Garry Towler asked the group if they have people willing to volunteer with the arts centre already, and the group said yes.

“We get phone calls all the time,” said Grant. “Our list is growing. People have heard about it and are asking how can they help, what can I do?”

Councillor Murray Gray said he thinks the centre would bring people from the surrounding communities.

“I think every community would have people who are members here from about an hour around,” says Gray.

“Right now I know a dozen people who go to (the arts centre in) Birtle regularly, and that’s only in my circle of people that I know,” said Grant. “It’s crazy the number of people who leave.”

“I think you need to consider the money it’s going to bring into town,” added councillor Kyla Fingas.

“Just last month four artists and myself went to Regina for a three-day workshop,” said Beckett. “We paid $300 each for the workshop and two nights accommodation and all of our meals and we shopped. And I want to see that here. I want people to come here and support our town. I want to bring it home.”

“The other reason is the residents of our town think this is a great idea and agree with you,” said councillor Murray Gray. “The economic side of it is just a spinoff, that’s not the main reason to support this, but it is a spinoff for sure.”

Motion of support
At the end of the discussion, council passed a motion of support for a new arts centre in town. The motion was that the town of Moosomin fully supports the establishment of a visual arts centre. The motion was made by councillor Greg Nosterud and seconded by Murray Gray.

The town decided they would support the creation of a visual arts centre, and assess any other needs moving forward once a suitable building is found.