Members’ show highlights local talent
|By Alex Coop - Staff Writer | May 12, 2016|
Dr. Agnes Jamieson was short but mighty, according to Minden resident Elizabeth Carrell, and she worked hard to establish the art gallery which hosts multiple exhibits every year and bears her name.
“She wanted Minden to be known for more than being a hockey town,” Carrell explained Saturday during the 2016 Annual Members’ Show.
The gallery was founded in 1981 largely because Jamieson wanted to preserve and display the works of André Lapine.
Since then, many artists have become members of the gallery, but only one original member was in attendance Saturday.
It was Carrell.
“[Jamieson] wanted the arts to become a prominent part of the community,” she said. “She would call me up, not even introduce herself because I would already know who it was, and would tell me, ‘okay, I’ve already done this, this and this, but I’m going to need you to do this, this and this by the end of the day.”
Volunteers lined up to help the multi-talented Jamieson, Carrell said, and even today, they make up a big part of the cultural centre’s identity.
Centre curator Laurie Carmount encouraged everyone to spread the word about what the centre has to offer in hopes of increasing its foot traffic.
“I strongly believe we’ve done well and that we’ve brought much to those who visited,” Carmount told guests Saturday, adding the centre’s computer archives, which now store 6,000 historical items, is an important addition.
The diversity of art styles on display, the unique history and excited chatter among guests at the show made it hard to believe that the cultural centre recently endured a $50,000 cut to its annual budget.
That cut by Minden Hills council was a major topic during budget talks, and Reeve Brent Devolin repeatedly cited
the cultural centre’s low attendance numbers.
But Carmount told the crowd Saturday that attendance numbers have been much lower in years prior to 2015.
A graph highlighting the centre’s attendance figures dating back to 2005 showed that approximately 4,700 people walked through their doors in 2015. In 2014, that number was 2,700.
Carmount pointed out the low traffic numbers in 2008 and 2009, when attendance numbers dropped significantly to 2,700 people and 2,900 people, respectively.
The numbers peaked in 2010 when they rocketed to just over 7,000.
“Our number one goal is always education,” Carmount said. “We have survived and will continue to survive thanks to people like you.”
Community services director Mark Coleman told The Highlander it will be a challenge to maintain the programs the centre currently offers if additional cuts are made next year.
A minor cut to the part-time staff’s hours has also made things more challenging, Coleman added, but two student grants, which the centre successfully applied for last year, will alleviate some pressure this summer.
“That was something we had planned for quite some time now,” he said.
The winner of this year’s members’ show was Walter Breaker with his pencil-only drawing called Bon Voyage.
ALEX COOP is a reporter for The Highlander.