Morinville Art Club says it wants Town to step up with support

by Jennifer Lavallee
Morinville News Correspondent

The Morinville Art Club made a public presentation asking to see support from the Town during the Budget 2017 Open House on November 2.

Dolly Bolen, Vice President of the Morinville Art Club (MAC), spoke on behalf of the group and detailed frustrations the Club has experienced regarding accessing available exhibit space at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre (MCCC). This difficulty, she said, has been happening since the Morinville Youth Club moved into the MCCC’s mezzanine last year, an area she calls “the gallery space.”

The Art Club, which was established in 1978, currently has 18 active members. The artists meet nearly 30 times per year at the MCCC to create art; they typically put on two art shows per year as well.

Additionally, the MAC also partners with Morinville’s Snowflake and Stars Festival event each year (2016’s festival is occurring on November 19). This year, however, that is not happening due to, what Bolen calls, overbooking and a lack of space due to the Youth Club.
Bolen also indicated the Town’s Administration will not allow the Art Club to hang their art up for more than a few days (when they used to be allowed to exhibit their pieces for up to three weeks at a time).

Bolen informed Council this is particularly irksome for the MAC because the group had invested in the MCCC when the Town first constructed it. She said they paid for items such as a lighting and rail system, which hangs and highlights art, and freestanding glass cases. The MAC paid for this in part with grant money and in part with membership money.

“We have been asked to host the Alberta Community Art Association zone show for Northern Alberta in 2017; however, because we don’t have space that is dedicated to the arts anymore, we can’t even say yes to them,” said Bolen. “In 2018, it will be the 40th Anniversary of the Morinville Art Club, and we would like to plan [an event] at that time, but we need to know that we’ll have a space…this isn’t just about the Morinville Art Club; it’s about all arts and culture.”

Coun. Gord Putnam told the MAC he understood where they were coming from. “I’m sorry. It must have felt quite difficult that you had a way of doing things and then all of a sudden that changed without much discussion.” The rest of council echoed his sentiment.

“We need a place and space for art of all sorts in the community,” said Coun. Stephen Dafoe, “…where that place is, we still need to discuss.”

Since Bolen was presenting at an event meant to discuss Budget dollars, however, Morinville’s Council did push her on exactly what she was asking for as it related to next year’s budget.
MAC Secretary, Sarah Hall, requested assistance with the cost of renting space at the MCCC; that amount is less than $1,000 per year.

“It’s not that we we’re not supportive of the Art Club,” later remarked Morinville’s Mayor, Lisa Holmes, “in the six years I’ve been on Council, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you here. I appreciate you guys being here; I think it’s a huge step forward.”

Councillors collectively provided some ideas on how the MAC could raise funds and address some of their immediate concerns with finding wall space to display their art. Those suggestions included approaching private businesses or organizations like the Public Library or Museum for sponsorship and/or exhibit space. Town Hall was also mentioned as a potential spot to showcase local art.

Putnam, who said the Putnam and Lawson Law Offices would likely be willing to showcase some of MAC’s art, also suggested the group’s leadership consider joining the Town’s forthcoming Community Services Advisory Board.

Council indicated they would like to further discuss the matter during their next Council meeting on Nov. 8.

Bolen and Hall were the only speakers to present at the Budget 2017 Open House.