FSJ Community Hub in infancy stage

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A feasibility study for a proposed Community Hub has wrapped up with the Fort St. John Arts Council presenting its findings to local governments and looking forward to the next steps.

Vice president of the arts council, Margaret May, says the goal of the facility is to provide both existing and emerging artists with a space to create their works, as well as expand the types of art locals are able to create.

May says the process to complete a feasibility study for the hub was started by the late Sue Popesku, who was an active member of the council and assisted with the creation of the North Peace Cultural Centre.

“It was always a dream of hers talking about building a working space. She would say, we got a place to show the widgets, but we now you need a place to build the widgets. So that’s kind of what has spurred us on,” May recalled.

May added that Popesku had started getting funds together for the feasibility but unfortunately was unable to see it to its completion.

May, along with secretary Connie Surerus, presented the study’s findings to the Peace River Regional District on April 14th.  May says she was surprised by the amount of feedback from community members.

“It was found in the study that there is a demand [for the hub], there were a lot of people that came out to the stakeholder meetings. There were a lot of people who had a lot of ideas. We had a large list of what people would like in the hub, it gave us an idea of what the demand is,” May said in a presentation to the PRRD.

May adds that several art groups in the Peace currently either don’t have a permanent space or are running out of room in their studios.

“A good example is the Fort St. John Quilters guild have just lost their space. And then they were scrambling around trying to find another space. But there are also needs for individual artists to find studio space and also to encourage the development of professional artists in the community,” May said.

“There are people in the community who’re trying to pursue a career in professional art, and we want to be able to encourage that.”

The feasibility study presented three options for the potential building: an expansion of the North Peace Cultural Centre, a stand-alone facility, and a stand-alone facility with residential housing.

Each option will feature a makerspace — a site that will allow artists to create and collaborate on a variety of projects.

According to the study, phase one will include a pottery studio, fibre arts studio, a printmaking studio, a lounge/social meeting space, performing arts rehearsal space, and multipurpose rooms. Phase two will include a woodworking shop, a glassblowing shop, a metalworking shop and an outdoor kiln.

Funding for the feasibility study came from the City of Fort St. John, District of Taylor, PRRD and Canadian Heritage.

Founded in 1970, the FSJ Arts Council is a non-profit located in the Artspost that aims to support and develop arts and culture in Fort St. John.

The Arts Council will present the study to city council this week.

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