Moosomin Town Council meets with Visual Arts Centre group

October 18, 2023, 10:06 am
Kevin Weedmark

Council members asked the arts group to come back to the next council meeting with a budget showing their projected income and expenses.

Moosomin town council met with representatives of the Moosomin Visual Arts Centre board at the October 11 council meeting, and discussed town funding for the centre.

The Visual Arts Centre has been looking for a facility in which to set up a Visual Arts Centre that would provide space for artists to work, would provide equipment such as a pottery kiln, and would offer classes for everyone from school students to seniors.

Discussions on a Visual Arts Centre began after Krista Crellin responded to a Moosomin Economic Development Committee survey, pointing out the need for visual arts programming in the community.

The EDC met with Crellin and suggested she put together a committee and come up with a plan, and over the last few months the committee has been put in place and has started planning for an arts centre.

The group has been in discussions on a potential building, but came to council Wednesday to see if the town would cover the cost of the building,

“The EDC marked the arts centre as a need in the community and said we should go out and do some research and find some people, and we have done that,” Krista Crellin of the Visual Arts Centre told council members.

“We’ve been planning a lot, we’ve been researching, we have a lot of ideas, we’re ready and raring to go, but we can’t make any decisions until we know what the town is willing to invest in it. That’s where we are now.

“One facility we looked at is off the table, the other is a possibility still. There are other possibilities, too, but we can’t decide what facility to go with until we have an indication from the town what kind of support they can give us.”

“We need a commitment of dollars to know where we stand for operations,” said Terry Grant of the Visual Arts Centre Committee.

“We do know we would like operating costs covered,” said Crellin. “We believe that to be about $50,000 a year. And we also would like a full-time employee.”

“What kind of fundraising do you project you will do,” asked Councillor Garry Towler.

“We are talking about doing an art auction,” said Crellin. “We are going to be calling corporate sponsors, there are grant opportunities.”

Towler stressed that, in his opinion, users of the arts centre should be paying something toward the cost of the building, just as minor hockey players or figure skaters pay fees that in part go toward ice rentals, or users of the Sportsplex pay for their use of the facility.

Councillor Greg Nosterud suggested that instead of leasing the building the committee has been working on, they should look at moving in a building, like the golf course did with its clubhouse.

“I see the lease as being initially as a three-year plan to show there’s a need,” said Councillor Murray Gray.

“The building is the biggest hangup. The employee you’re talking about could be added at a later date or you could find a grant to help with that. Really right now the important part is the building. The building is the biggest stumbling block. We have and maintain a lot of buildings for recreation. Rather than us own and maintain another building, they’re asking us to help with a lease in order to have a space so they can get going for the first three years. It would be a three-year commitment from us, with three years’ time to look at how it’s impacted the community socially and economically. With our rec facilities we talk about economic development and how many people they bring into town. We have to figure that into this whole equation, and I think it’s huge.”

Council members asked about the space requirements for the art centre.

“The one building that we think would work would be 3,000 square feet,” said Crellin.

“The building we’re thinking of is ideal for our needs, it’s a lease opportunity, with the opportunity for us to own it in the future. They would like the building to have a community use.”

“It has decent parking, it’s close to the centre of town, it’s close to the schools,” added Grant. “If we knew the building was covered then all we would have to fundraise for is equipment.”

Gray pointed out that for most facilities, users pay part of the cost of the building through user fees or memberships.

“One of the asks I would have is that there be some sort of user pay or cost recovery for part of the cost of the facility whether through membership or the cost of classes.

“If you look at the other facilities we have, there’s always some sort of user pay with a facility, whether it’s a team paying fees to rent the ice or the cost to use the Sportsplex,” he said.

“I think that aspect has to be included in the business plan that comes forth. I think that user pay aspect has to be there for part of the cost of the building. We have to be able to justify to those who are using our other facilities or who would question this.”

“We will have membership fees,” said Crellin. “Say we did $20 a month, that’s $40,000 a year with those people who said they would buy a membership, and $20 is probably low if we’ve got something they can use. But we can’t sell memberships until we have a building. We have ideas, we are just stuck on the building.”

She said the group conducted a poll and found that 95 per cent of respondents would be interested in a membership.

Councillors questioned whether the group would need full funding for both the building costs and an employee.

“I would love an employee but we can start small with that. I think we’ll need it eventually. It’s too big a job for volunteers.

“Maybe selling memberships could cover some of that as well,” said Gray.

“If you had $50,000 you would have a building that would commit to you right now?” asked councillor Kyla Fingas.

“Yes, and if fundraising goes well we could be up and running in the new year,” said Crellin.

Council members asked the arts group to come back to the next council meeting with a budget showing their projected income and expenses.

“If you can break it down from the janitor to the utilities, the plans you have for membership, the user pay aspect, so we can see the whole picture,” said Gray.

“If you can do that for our next meeting, which is two weeks from tonight, we can have a discussion on it.”