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Nanaimo Art Gallery studies possible building expansion

A study will help Nanaimo Art Gallery decide whether its current location is suitable for its consolidation and expansion plans.

Julie Bevan, executive and artistic director of the gallery, said a study will assess the size and expansion potential of the gallery’s current location at 150 Commercial St., in the former CIBC bank building.

“The building would require significant renovation to be used by the gallery,” she said.

The building, which is owned by the City of Nanaimo and operated by Centre for the Arts Nanaimo, houses office space for arts groups like the Vancouver Island Symphony, Crimson Coast Dance Society and TheatreOne, in addition to gallery space.

The art gallery, which also has a location at Vancouver Island University, wants to bring both locations under one roof, preferably downtown in Nanaimo’s designated arts district.

The campus location hosts larger exhibitions and educational programs, as well as the gallery’s permanent collection, all which would need space in a consolidated downtown location.

The expansion would help the gallery secure a Category A designation through Canadian Heritage, which would allow the gallery to host significant exhibitions from cultural institutions from around the world.

“We’ll be able to take our programs to a new level,” Bevan said. “We’ll make it into the vital place we want it to be.”

Over the past months, representatives from the gallery met with their counterparts from the city and Centre for the Arts Nanaimo – all of whom recognize the importance of having the gallery located next to the Port Theatre, Nanaimo Museum and the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

Bevan said she expects the completed study by mid-autumn, at which point the gallery can move on with expansion or onto the search for a more suitable building.

The gallery is not requesting money from the city to pay for the study.

Nanaimo Art Gallery was founded in 1976 as a place to exhibit works from students at Malaspina College and evolved into a regional gallery aimed at enhancing the cultural environment of the central Island.

For more information, please visit www.nanaimoartgallery.com.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com

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