The Mission Arts Council (MAC) may have to wait a few years for new facilities, but city council promises to “do better” than what MAC was proposing.
Nancy Arcand, executive director of MAC, came before council on July 18 asking for an increased fees from the city and $375,000 in upgrades to a property they have to move into by next summer.
Over the last 22 years, MAC’s home has been at the Rock Family Gallery in the yellow heritage house on 1st Ave and Catherwood Street, but their lease is not being renewed.
“Our time in the big butter-yellow house in the corner is coming to an end in June, 2023,” Arcand said.
She added that while they have a memorandum of understanding with the city to use the Lawn Bowling Building on Hurd Street, its current floor space is too small.
“We have the land, we just don’t have a runway to land on.”
The Rock Family Galley is a 3,500 square-foot building, while the Lawn Bowling Building is less than half that, at 1,400 square-feet, Arcand said.
Currently they are able to host 17 annual gallery exhibitions, a gift shop, studio space for local artists, art class workshops, spring and summer camps and other youth programs, as well as organize the annual Fraser Valley Children’s Festival and Christmas Craft Market, Arcand said.
The $375,000 MAC requested would pay for three 12-by-600-foot trailers for clayworks and classroom space, and renovations to create a reception area, gallery, gift shop and further programming space, Arcand said, as well as upgrades to the electrical panel, vinyl siding, and new windows, a roof and gutters.
She said they are also applying for a federal grant that would match these funds.
MAC also requested an increase in their fee-for-service from the city. When they first moved into the Rock Family Galley in 2000, their fee-for-service was $17,000; today, it sits at $28,000 for all their programs.
Arcand said that MAC is “the heart of arts and culture in our community.” She wanted the upgraded space to be open to the public by September, 2023.
Mayor Paul Horn countered the proposal with the potential for a new, more-permanent home for MAC as the city undergoes facilities and capital planning.
“In a nutshell, I have some concerns about the proposal, because plain and simple, I think we can do better,” Horn said.
“It doesn’t mean that I don’t understand what the underlying need is … I think we’d rather put the money into something that’s going to have lasting value.”
He said he was concerned about sinking a large amount of funding into a facility when interim solutions can be found while capital planning is completed.
Horn suggested looking at rental space in more than one location, temporary use permits and utilizing unused space at the Mission Leisure Centre as possible ways to navigate the next couple of years.
Coun. Mark Davies asked what MAC envisions for a new facility, should a capital project go forward.
Arcand said that they’ve worked with local individual arts through their board to determine what it could visually look like.
She said they’ve talked about certain qualities, such as making it conducive as a community centre, and having it fit in with the aesthetics of the existing residential area.
She said she’s uncertain if the Lawn Bowling Building – being less than one acre – fits the profile.