This image shows the concept for the garden outside the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre as prepared by Gaila Hemphill of Outdoor Elements Landscape Design.

This image shows the concept for the garden outside the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre as prepared by Gaila Hemphill of Outdoor Elements Landscape Design.

Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre moving ahead with exterior plans

Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre adding gardens, walkways and expanded retail space to art gallery.

The Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre is moving forward this summer with its big re-development plans, that include a community garden, new landscaping, retail expansion and more.

“We’re working on developing ourselves and our grounds as a major attraction at the west end of town,” Ken Talbot, the president of the Revelstoke Visual Arts Society told council on Tuesday, Mar. 10.

Talbot and Jackie Pendergast, the society’s executive director, spoke to council to talk about the society’s successes last year, and their plans for the coming year.

The gallery had 21 exhibits last year, with 2,437 visits. 127 people signed up for art classes last year, 44 people took advantage of the wood shop, 28 joined the potter’s guild and the society’s membership increased to 165. Eight artists rent out studio space in the building, which helps cover utility bills.

The society has five goals:

— Create a more user friendly experience;

— create a viable staff, volunteer and membership base for the centre;

— become operationally and financially sustainable by increasing revenues, maintaining the building and grounds, and increasing energy efficiency;

— developing relationships with arts and culture organizations in Revelstoke and the surrounding area;

— and promoting the gallery as a destination.

This year, the society plans on opening the gallery for 10 months of the year — up from nine last year. They also intend to expand the shop by 300 square feet and, most notably, a major landscaping of the gallery’s grounds.

As reported in the Times Review last May, the society plans on adding an outdoor plaza, picnic table, xeriscape garden and walkways to the property. A community garden was built there last fall and is expected to flourish this summer.

The garden is a collaboration between the North Columbia Environmental Society and the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre.

“That will be operational this year with a focus on actual food production,” said Talbot.

They also plan on painting the exterior of the building red and creating a public art installation on the front of the building to make it more attractive to people passing by. Walkways will connect the gallery to Victoria Road.

Pendergast said they hope the development will make the gallery an even bigger draw for Farwell and Columbia Park residents, as well as visitors staying at hotels near the Trans-Canada Highway.

Talbot said funding was in place to finish all the professional design work and they hoped to finish the gardens this summer.

“The goal is that by August we should have a grand opening,” he said.