Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society A-Team members with consultant Rick Schick. From left: Wendy Lambert, Lori Frankson, Schick, Peggy Grigor, Brad Grigor, Chrissy Kemppi, Tom Andrews. Absent: Peter Collum. (Photo submitted)

Arts council takes key step in developing new regional arts centre in North Cowichan

Consultant appointed to undertake feasibility study

The Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society has selected Richard K. Schick, representing RWDI Air Inc. of Victoria, as the consultant to undertake an independent feasibility study for the CVCAS arts centre.

The CVCAS held a public meeting in early 2018 where it first presented a vision and rationale for how a world-class regional arts centre in or near Chemainus could contribute significantly to the economic and cultural prosperity of Chemainus, North Cowichan and the entire Cowichan region.

The CVCAS was motivated to bring this vision forward based in part on published research, including North Cowichan’s Chemainus Recreation Needs Assessment (June 2009), that stated: “For a tourist community focused on famous murals, Chemainus is otherwise deficient in the array of arts and cultural opportunities often available in other communities. More public music and concerts are suggested along with more galleries and museums and an arts centre.”

“Since our public meeting, we met with many local artists, members of the public, and experts and stakeholders in the tourism, hospitality and transportation industries and business and theatre development consultants and two things became clear,” noted Brad Grigor, chair of the CVCAS arts centre committee, known as the A-Team.

“First, everyone we asked confirmed that such an arts centre is ‘spot on’ with the needs of our burgeoning community and the forecasts for tourism growth in the region. And, second, that an independent feasibility study must be undertaken to thoroughly assess the need and viability so the project can be appropriately scoped and planned.”

Those meetings resulted in the A-Team producing a comprehensive arts centre strategic plan. Later in 2018, it developed a detailed feasibility study requirements document and began the process to find a suitable consultant to undertake the study.

With proposals coming in from around the Cowichan Valley and across the country, the A-Team was most impressed by the proposal submitted by Schick, senior consultant in theatre planning, design & management at RWDI. He has 47 years of hands-on experience in facility management and development, including such projects as The Performing Arts Theatre of Hinton, Alta., the York University Theatre in North York, Ont. and The Royal and McPherson Theatres in Victoria. He is also a resident of Shawnigan Lake that gave his proposal added local relevance.

The A-Team and Schick have already had a preliminary meeting.

“I was initially concerned that the CVCAS, like many other organizations, would be aiming for something unrealistically large,” Schick indicated. “However, the scope and size of the arts centre they’re envisioning is both reasonable and consistent with the market, the community and the region it is intended to benefit. I’m excited to have been chosen to play a key part in moving the project forward.”

Anyone interested in receiving a copy of the CVCAS arts centre strategic plan is invited to send a request to artscentre@cvcas.com or leave their name and email address at Rainforest Arts Gallery, 9781 Willow St. in Chemainus (in the Coastal Community Credit Union).

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