A new $35-million public art gallery is being envisioned for the Cowichan Valley.
Jock Hildebrand, president of the non-profit Friends of the Cowichan Public Art Gallery Society, told the City of Duncan’s council at a meeting earlier this month that the up to 35,000 sq. ft. gallery would host international, national and local art exhibitions and offer associated programming currently not locally available.
He said the need for such a facility in the Valley is obvious.
“Considering the size of our community, this lack of a facility that houses a public art gallery is very unusual,” Hildebrand said.
“There is no building that serves that function and we are the largest community in B.C. without a public art gallery. Our group has recognized that need and we want to raise funds and set in place a strategy for creating a purpose-built public art gallery for the Valley.”
Hildebrand said the intention is to build an “A” list gallery that can meet the conditions, such as providing the correct environmental requirements, needed for holding top international and national exhibitions.
As well, he said the gallery would provide exposure for local artists in terms of curated exhibitions, and it would provide arts programming for the general population in the Valley.
Hildebrand said the society is already hosting art exhibitions in various venues in order to qualify for ongoing Canada Council operating grants.
He said the society is not asking the city for any funding at this time for the facility, which is planned to be constructed in Duncan.
“We expect it will take between seven to 10 years to see this project to completion and we’re looking for a letter of support from the city for the facility,” Hildebrand said.
“We already have letters of support from local arts councils, (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) MP Alistair MacGregor, (Cowichan Valley MLA) Sonia Furstenau and other local politicians. With former MP (for Nanaimo-Cowichan) Jean Crowder, we also have an honorary chair person and champion.”
Council agreed to write a general letter of support for the project.