Michael and Els Schutte are hoping their new shop will become a centre for art in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.
The pair recently opened their Academy of Music and Art in Parksville, where they teach painting, music and scrapbooking, in addition to selling their creations and various goods related to those pursuits.
The creative couple said they’d been planning to open a store since they moved to the area from the Netherlands several years ago, and that when the space at 114 Hirst Ave. became available, they jumped on the opportunity.
“Suddenly it was there… I said to Els, ‘Let’s do it now, because this is really a good opportunity,’” said Michael.
For more than 25 years, Michael said, they had an art and music school in Holland, and after moving to the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, had hoped to start it up again.
“First we tried it in a big house in French Creek,” he said, but found it difficult to get people out to the house.
For the last several years, he’s been teaching singing, guitar, bass, drums, ukulele, piano, songwriting and performing out of the Parksville Music Centre.
But he said it was time for he and Els to have their own business again.
Now in its new large, bright space, the Academy of Music and Art has the same setup as the previous shop in Holland, he said.
Els, a scrapbooker whose work appears in magazines and is part of the Heartfelt Creations design team, teaches workshops on how to make various scrapbook items, like 3-D cards, mini photo albums, altered items and even creative album holders that look like houses or, in one case, a vintage TV.
The store also sells scrapbooking materials.
Michael is teaching music as well as painting, mostly in the style of Dutch masters, and specializes in romantic realism.
Their teaching style is to help students (of all ages) learn to create what they are interested in, while giving them a good grounding in that particular art.
Michael draws on his time with Dutch pop group The Nits, as well as with Robert Stanley and the Vips who gained fame, doing a TV show and recording with ABBA, and with several other groups.
He teaches a range of instruments from guitar to ukulele, piano, drums and singing, and teaches people of all ages.
In addition, his teaching can extend into performance coaching, teaching would-be rockstars and singers how to move on stage, play for an audience or for a camera.
He can also teach students how to record music with his recording equipment and help students produce their own recorded tracks.
Once every few months, Michael also hosts performances for which he prepares his students, and also holds a campfire singing club for the older crowd every seven or eight weeks.
“The campfire singing is really getting popular,” he said.
Having built up a clientele over the years, the pair say they’ve already got a steady flow of patrons coming to the store.
Currently, they’re also selling some guitar equipment like strings and picks, but by January will also have guitars, banjos and ukuleles for sale. However, the idea isn’t to try and be an instrument seller, said Michael.
“The main thing is, I think, the lessons,” he said. “That’s the most important thing.”
He emphasized that, for both himself and Els, the idea with their lessons is to teach students what they are interested in learning.
That is evidenced by Michael’s own paintings that he displays in the recording studio — which include portraits of Taylor Swift, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga and others.
“But it’s also important for Parksville that Els is selling scrapbook merchandise… there’s really a big group of scrapbookers here in Parksville, and they are already coming in, so that’s good,” he said.
Asked what they hope the business will become, Michael said, “It will be the next creative centre for Oceanside.”