A volunteer-run arts centre is fundraising to keep its doors open, as the pandemic continues to thwart Prince George's arts community.
The Omineca Arts Centre on Victoria Street has been hard hit by COVID-19 restrictions over this past year as its not been able to host events or rent out studio space – its main source of funding.
“We would be hosting a variety of different events and renting the studio space out for art uses and screenings and all kinds of things like that,” says Jennifer Pighin, chair of Omineca’s board of directors.
“Generally that was a very accessible space at a reasonable rate and often by donation which would bring in the funds to cover our rent and our bills.”
Pighin says Omineca Arts Centre began with a mission to fill a gap in the arts community.
“We wanted to create a place where we could have multiple art disciplines come together to learn from each other, challenge each other, and diversity our community’s arts scene and cater to a broader range of age groups and socio-economic backgrounds,” says Pighin.
Each month, the centre features a local artist as 'Omineca Artist in Residence,' who spends their time in studio, available for socially-distant visits and in-person artist talks while visitors may view their exhibition or take in a free art workshop.
“We wanted it to be accessible, which is why most of our events are free and by donation and bring people together from different walks of life. “
The centre was initially funded with startup capital from Emily Carr University of Art and Design’s Living Labs program, but Pighin says the centre has now extended the majority of that funding and with the cost of bills are looking at up to three months of operations left.
Omineca has now launched a GoFundMe campaign to help the centre stay afloat as the pandemic continues into 2021 with the goal of raising $60,000, with all funds going directly to paying rent, bills and supporting artists.
“We still have an eager board willing to volunteer their time to do the work and ensure our space survives and thrives and supports artists in our community in whatever capacity that there is.”
Pighin says the centre hopes to run new programs under a new model and are in a grant application process which would see the artist in residency program continue as well as develop a performance artist in residency program with an added virtual component.
However, if successful, that grant funding would cover the costs of artist fees and materials and not the day-to-day expenses of running the centre.
Omineca is also seeking local or corporate sponsors who are willing to help the centre to deliver programs and exhibitions, and support artists on a local and provincial level.
Pighin says donations can also come in the form of time, material or skills.
“If people are wanting to support us they can volunteer, or help us to recruited new artists and performers to be in residence, or they can donate goods or services as well.”