Since 2001 the Bella Coola Valley Arts Council has operated the ‘Art House’. Thanks to School district 49, one of the old teacherages on the Hagensborg school site has been loaned rent free to the Arts Council for the purpose of promoting the arts. Over the last decade this has allowed for an art gallery, a place to meet and hold events including workshops, music nights, literary nights etc. For those involved, there has been a great deal of emotional investment in the concept of a physical centre for the arts in Bella Coola.
In spite of being loaned rent free, it continues to be expensive to operate the Art House. There are insurance costs of over $1200 a year, and heating oil and hydro can cost another $3500 a year. In the initial years of operation there was some funding available from the Lottery Corporation and various grants. Even so funding remained an issue. Attempts to operate a coffee shop/tea room were financially unsuccessful, and it required a lot of volunteer time.
In 2009, with the loss of funding from the Lottery Corporation, a review of the Art House operation was carried out and recommendations made to close down the operation of the facility. There was great reluctance to do this, because of the activities it allowed and the investments, emotional and physical that had already been made. One way or another, the decision to close down the operation has been postponed to the present.
Today, with reduced grant options, some roof repairs impending, and ongoing operation costs, we find ourselves without the financial resources to continue operating the Art House. The amount of fund raising required to continue would be a huge drain on our volunteer time and energy, and would detract from other organizations in the Valley that are also faced with fund raising in order to maintain their facilities.
Finally, we have to ask ourselves, where and how we want to expend our resources and energy in order to promote the arts in the Bella Coola Valley. There are plenty of other physical venues available in the Valley to put on events. This would be a much cheaper option and would help in the maintenance of those facilities.
While the decision to close down the Art House has not been formally made, this proposal will be made at the next arts council meeting. Meanwhile we hope to canvass the opinions/thoughts of the many people in the Valley who have been involved with the arts council over the years.