Qualicum Beach core to be spruced up

Empty storefronts will feature local works of art in unique program

There is nothing pretty about a store front window covered with paper and displaying a vacancy sign and if the Town of Qualicum Beach can strike a deal with the business community, those unsightly windows will be turned into temporary art displays.

The author of Making Culture Count!, the Town of Qualicum Beach Cultural plan for 2012 to 2017 presented some of the goals of the plan at the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce AGM November 21 and Patricia Huntsman is hoping the business community will embrace some of the forward thinking strategies of the cultural plan including store-front activation.

Huntsman agreed that in the town of Qualicum Beach you don’t have to push for culture because most people in the community embrace it.

She said that developing arts and business partnerships in the town is very important in terms of the Chamber of Commerce and has been identified in the plan which includes some unique strategies.

One of the ideas she presented to the group is store-front activation for vacant retail space in the community.

She stated that store-front activation reduces the length of time that commercial spaces stay vacant by doing different arts initiatives.

“It is a growing movement in a lot of recession laid cities in the U.S. and what they are seeing is that it reduces the vacancy rate for the commercial space but it also builds pedestrian traffic and builds interest in that area of the community.”

Huntsman said such a program was created in Seattle and it has created a vibrancy in that city.  She said passers by still know the space is available for lease but it provides temporary animation of it.

“It is really about building interest and excitement in the community and it is especially a great thing to do over the winter months because residents often feel that there isn’t enough happening.”

Huntsman r said as well as pop-up galleries another use could be satellite museum spaces.

“It gets their materials out in the community.  A for lease sign is replaced with art.”

Huntsman hopes there is enough interest in the idea so that a working group can get up and running to implement the project.

Another cultural project the town is working on includes an exciting competition that will provide an opportunity for artists, designers and photographers to design an image to be used to enhance the exterior of the former bus garage. Huntsman said the facade improvement project is a temporary beautification undertaking to spruce up the building’s Memorial Avenue side which sits at a prominent entry into downtown and a call is going out for images to be that can be presented on a large scale.

She said the artwork would be transferred onto a canvas which will then be displayed on the building to serve as a backdrop to interim cultural activities held at the site.

The giant art covered canvas can then be used as a potential backdrop in other cultural spaces and facilities in the community.

The deadline for submissions is Dec 19.


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