Art Matters to close doors at the end of July

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Art Matters, [or perhaps does not to many of our fellow citizens], this imaginative and innovative experiment driven by the vision of Gwynne Hunt will close its doors at the end of July. There will be one last Featured Artist – Gittan Klemetsrud will open her show Latitudes and Fibres – opening Friday July 7th, 7pm. This run until the end of July, see story.

The store, next to the Blue Door on Harbour Quay, for those thousands of you that never did learn of its existence or grace the doorway, was envisioned as an membership based artist run collective. It opened hastily in August of 2016, with no publicity budget, with a planned revenue mix of retail items, artist on consignment works on a commission basis and a planned space for studios, workshops and small scale performance pieces.

Things went wrong from the start. The fire chief nixed the use of the upper story studio space, the retail sales never amounted to enough; and perhaps the art by and large did not appeal [or were prices too high?], and only minor revenue was generated by lessons and events.

The costs, for this pretty crappy, cold building [built originally by Stamp?], were very high and of course continued each month. These were about $500 for rent, then some taxes, insurance, telephone, bank card machine, heat and light and on and on. With the result that even with no staff wages, over $1,000 in after sales surplus had to be generated each month to meet them. A salutary lesson for those considering retail in our village. It also became clear that the Blue Door end of the Quay is dead for retail, with people looking to park as close to the fountain as possible and to meander and shop, to the extent they do for ice cream and coffee, in that general area. And obviously not many shop down there in the winter.

It was also interesting to me to see the extent, or rather lack of it, that members supported the effort. Granted that a $25 membership fee is but a coffee for two in Vancouver, but I did hope that the centre would develop into some form of meeting place, venue for exchange of ideas and inspiration … idealistic of me.

Gwynne Hunt and her husband David have put considerable effort into developing, furthering and promoting the arts in town since they moved here, and for this they should be recognized. It is a great pity that this effort cost them so much physically, financially and I suspect emotionally.

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