Cedar Hill opens arms to artists

New studios offer artist-in-residence program. Deadline quickly approaching.

Elizabeth Dailey works in one of the artist studios at the new arts centre at the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre.

If you build it, they will come. That was the hope when the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre opened two newly constructed and fully equipped art studios in September — but since then, few independent artists have taken advantage of the expansive work environments. Now, local artist Elizabeth Dailey, who uses the studios on a regular basis, and is the only painter consistently occupying the space, says she’s looking for some company.

“I’d really like to start an artists’ collective,” Dailey says. “It’s not like a committee or a board – it’s just artists getting together, talking about their work and showing each other what they do.”

The recreation centre offers art classes mostly in the evenings and weekends, leaving most weekday hours wide open for working artists. To gain access to the facilities, users need only take an hour-long orientation. Then they can drop in or buy passes, just as they would for the rec centre’s other facilities.

“If I were to rent this space, just as it is, it would cost me about $1,200 a month,” Dailey says of the spacious studio, which features huge windows, storage, plenty of floor space and views of the tree-lined paths surrounding the centre. By comparison, an annual pass to use the studio costs $300, and patrons can also use the ceramics studio across the hall.

“On the one hand, I love having this space,” she says. “But it would be nice to have artists filling it. There’s a really nice energy that begins when a whole bunch of artists come in.”

Dailey says she’s heard from at least eight artists interested in joining a collective based at the centre, and is hoping to receive more responses.

“It’ll come – these things just take time,” she says. “But I think once it gets established, it’ll really start to take off.”

A recently-retired art teacher, she’ll also be running classes in the centre starting in May. When asked why she’s had the studios to herself for so long, Dailey says it’s a lack of information, not interest, that’s kept people away. Because the centre is so new, and hasn’t received much publicity, people just aren’t aware that it’s available.

“It was kind of a fluke that I saw the open house,” she says. “I decided I might as well come, and the facilities just blew me away. They need to get the word out.”

The Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria recently moved into the centre and is launching an artist-in-residence program with the goal of connecting professional artists with the community.

Working in collabortaion with the Arts Centre and the Saanich Legacy Foundation, the CACGV is seeking submissions from artists of all disciplines for projects in which the artist can take on the role of mentor, educator, liaison, workshop leader, etc.

The first program would start in March and would provide $6,000 for the artist’s fee and materials. Selection is by jury and the program would be complete by June 2012. The deadline for proposals is March 2 at 5 p.m. More information is available at cacgv.ca.

For more information about the arts centre at Cedar Hill, visit saanich.ca/parkrec/recreation/cedarart.html. M

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